This week’s session, Daniel Was Rescued (Unit 16, Session 3), once again focuses on God’s deliverance of Daniel or his friends. We saw God’s kindness in Daniel and His Friends Obeyed God (Unit 16, Session 1) as they refused to eat the king’s food and God blessed them with health and favor. We saw God’s rescue of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Unit 16, Session 2) from the fiery furnace after they refused to worship anything but God. And now, we see Daniel refuse to obey an ungodly law not to pray to God, be thrown into a lions’ den, and live to tell the king of God’s provision.
Notice the pattern.
What is God showing us here as His people are enslaved in a foreign land?
We have to be careful to conclude that God will “reward” us whenever we are faithful to Him. That’s not what Scripture teaches and it isn’t what we experience in life. The problem is that we define “reward” incorrectly much of the time. We tend to see “reward” always as something good for us from our perspective. Something that makes us feel good. Or something that we want. These three stories seem to affirm that mistaken notion, but when we zoom out and look at the Bible as a whole, we see that these stories do not provide an axiom of reward always being something that feels good for us. God’s blessing can take the form of adversity, hardship, and suffering.
We also have to be careful not to conclude that we can earn things from God, or that God responds to us as we direct and guide what happens. Again, this seems to be what these stories show, but when we look more broadly at Scripture we see that this too would be incorrect. We cannot earn anything from our sovereign God. Whatever good He gives us is undeserved acts of His kindness and grace.
So what in the world can we conclude from these stories then? Surely it isn’t coincidence that God provided these three accounts that share the same basic story structure early in the Book of Daniel.
I would suggest you consider this take-away:
God showed His people that He has the power to deliver them from any situation, no matter how bad, when they trust in Him.
Look at the context of each of these stories. God’s people were in bondage in a foreign land—aliens and foreigners longing for their home and oppressed by their enemy. But three times we see that when God’s people trusted Him to protect them and provide for them, He did. He is faithful!
To me that sure sounds like how we are presently in bondage to sin—aliens and foreigners longing for home and oppressed by our enemy. But when we trust in Jesus, He protects us and provides for us. He is faithful!
These stories point us to the gospel, individually and corporately. God’s people needed to hear the gospel then, and we need to just as much now.
This session would be a good opportunity for you to connect these dots for your kids and show them how the stories in Daniel all fit together to show us God’s grace, mercy, and kindness in rescuing us and providing for us through Jesus. This week’s Christ Connection can help you do that:
God showed His power to rescue Daniel from the lions, but Daniel was just a small part of a much bigger story. God ultimately rescued us from a much bigger problem—sin and death—through His Son, Jesus.
You can substitute the two other stories into this Christ Connection and it still holds.
God showed His power to provide for Daniel and his friends, but they were just a small part of a much bigger story. God ultimately provided something much bigger—forgiveness and rescue over sin and death—through His Son, Jesus.
God showed His power to rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but they were just a small part of a much bigger story. God ultimately rescued us from a much bigger problem—sin and death—through His Son, Jesus.
Help your kids see that this week. Sometimes we want the stories to sound and feel similar. God uses repetition for a reason. Don’t shy away from it or worry that familiar stories lose power—they magnify it.
How do you handle teaching stories that are similar? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the January 1, 2017 session (Unit 16, Session 3) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian, his wife, Tara, and their three children—Joshua, Hannah, and Caleb—live in Murfreesboro, TN, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 4-5 graders at City Church.