Daniel 1-6 | Oct 31-Nov 6 | Come Follow Me Insights – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
And I’m Clint.
This is the Book of Mormon Central’s Come, Follow Me Insights.
Today, the Book of Daniel, chapter one through six.
And we’re really excited to welcome Clint Mortensen as our guest today. I’ve worked with Clint for many years. He is currently currently serving as the seminary preservice manager. Is that the right word?
Sounds good to me. I’ll take it.
So he’s in charge of going all over the place and watching potential seminary teachers and making all those decisions of who to hire. So it’s kind of exciting. He gets to be immersed in the realm of teaching and learning and you spend a few hours observing teachers and students. So what we wanted to do today is not just go through the chapters in the Book of Daniel, but begin with a little bit of an overlay for teaching and especially for learning. How do you create learning opportunities, especially in a scripture context, so that these scriptures can be unlocked with greater power in the lives of individuals today? So we are looking forward to beginning this episode in a nontraditional way, but asking Clint to kind of walk through. How do you help teachers prepare and teach in such a way that learners can more fully fulfill their role as students of the Gospel and have meaningful experiences?
Yeah, that’s a great question. What a blessing to be here. I’m grateful for the opportunity to take some time and focus on teaching and learning. As I think about Daniel, chapters one through six. As I think about teaching and learning, I’m just personally grateful for the teachers that I’ve known in my life. I think about teachers in the home with parents, I think about teachers in a seminary or an institute class, teachers in a young men and young women’s class. And so much of what I’ll share today is in that attempt to bless the teachers all over the world. And also hopefully, learning is the outcome. And so what I’d like to do, maybe beginning, is frame teaching and learning with a simple Venn diagram, right? And this might be the most important thing at the beginning to focus on, and that is the end result. This is, again, all in the context of learning, right? Generally gospel learning. So as we are young men, young women teachers, as we are parents, that’s probably the greatest role I think about when I talk about teaching and learning is I think about parents in the home with children, I think about seminary teachers, I think about young men, young women teachers.
So think about learning as the outcome as we talk about some things today, with the primary focus outcome being learning by the spirit, right? I can almost hear President Nelson in the back of my mind saying, oh, anything we can do to help all members of the church increase their capacity to hear him? And ultimately the end result of all that we do in teaching and learning as well as conversion, that we change, that we become more like the Savior of Jesus Christ. Then there are three approaches that lead to this kind of learning. We hope that it’s Scripture based, that if the learning is based out of the Scriptures, if the learning is centered on Jesus Christ, and if the learning is also focused on the learner, these three balanced approaches allow the learning to become deep into the heart of the individual. So let me read a few quotes that will frame this prophetically in our Old Testament come Follow Me manual. You’ll hear this phrase the aim of all gospel learning and teaching is to deepen our conversion and help us become more like Jesus Christ. True conversion requires the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Teaching in the Savior’s Way says the Holy Ghost is the true teacher. No mortal teacher, no matter how skilled or experienced, can replace his role in witnessing of truth, testifying of Christ, and changing hearts. But all teachers can be instruments in helping God’s children learn by the Spirit. And President Nelson said, our Father knows when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear. What will help us the very most is to hear His Son. As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. So those beautiful prophetic quotes describe the outcome of the learning in our homes, in our classrooms, and the learning that takes place individually as we study scriptures and study. Come, Follow Me now, in the context of Christ centered teaching in the Savior’s Way states, we can place Jesus Christ at the center of teaching and learning by recognizing and emphasizing that he is the perfect example of all Gospel principles. As disciples, we don’t just follow principles. We follow Jesus Christ. As we focus on the Savior’s perfect example, the Holy Ghost will testify of Him and inspire us to follow Him in the context of focusing on the learner.
So we’ve kind of mentioned that any time we can keep the Savior as a focus in our teaching, it will increase the likelihood that the Spirit teaches us. What about the learner? Now, picture the learner that you teach, right? It might be your child. It might be a seminary student. It might be someone in an adult Sunday school class. Let’s see what we can learn about the learner focus that will help lead the power of the Holy Ghost to teach the learner again. Teaching in the Savior’s Way from the beginning of his ministry, the Savior invited his followers to experience for themselves the truths, power, and love that he offered. He did this because this is what learning really is. It’s not just learning or reading. It’s also changing, repenting, and progressing. In the Savior’s words, learning comes by study and also by faith. And faith includes acting for ourselves and not simply being acted upon. It might seem easier to just tell learners all the things that they should know. However, Elder David A. Benard counseled, our intent ought not to be, what do I tell them? Instead, the questions to ask ourselves are what can I invite them to do?
What inspired questions can I ask? That? If they’re willing to respond, we’ll begin to invite the Holy Ghost into their lives. A learnerfocused approach is learning that is focused on their lives, on what’s going on in their hearts and their needs. And when we can balance the learner with the Savior and also Scripture. Elder Hale said, when we want to speak to God, we pray. But when we want God to speak to us, we search the Scriptures. As we study Scripture, revelation comes. So if you look as an example, let’s use Joseph Smith as the example. Right. Clearly, Joseph, as a boy, hoped to learn by the Spirit. He wanted to be different. He wanted to improve. He wanted to know which church to join. The Scriptures were a blessing to him. As he studied the Scriptures and studied James, his intent was to become more like the Savior. And he, as the learner, had real needs. And we all know that great experience that he went through where he was taught by a member of the Godhead, that really is the model experience for what we hope happens in the lives of the learners that we use the Scriptures to create revelation.
We focus the youth and the learner on the Savior, but we hope that it’s really relevant to their lives. And as we appropriately balance those three elements in our teaching and learning, it’s much more likely that the power of the Holy Ghost will teach the hearts and the minds of the people that we work with.
This is a wonderful framework to set the stage for us to jump into the Book of Daniel and focus on the Scripture as contained in Daniel. And by the way, as we work our way through the Old Testament this year, we’re nearing the end. We hope that as you’ve opened up each new book, it’s felt like this mini Christmas morning every time of new gifts that the Lord has to give to us. If we’ll just do these things that Clint’s been talking about, focus on him, focus on our learners, stay trusting in the Scriptures. This is powerful as we open up this book today.
And I love your focus on getting people to focus on Christ and a learner. Great teachers do that. They focus on the needs of the people they’re helping to invite to be more like Jesus Christ. I also like the word teacher. The word itself comes from a word that means to touch. That’s what good teachers do. They touch people’s hearts, their minds, enliven, enlighten them. And also, it means to point out a teacher is somebody who points to things and demonstrates. Good teachers aren’t the focus. Good teachers should be windows to Jesus or should be pointing people to Jesus. And any of us who have been called to be teachers, whether it’s parents or in the church in any way, our ultimate purpose is to be pointing and teaching and showing and demonstrating to other people who is Jesus, that they can accept him in their lives.
And we’re going to watch Daniel do some of those very things today with the various kings that he’s going to interact with and the people and the eunuchs in this particular story. So let’s orient and frame Daniel in history really quickly. If you look at chapter one, verse one, it says, in the third year of the reign of Jehoyah came King of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem and besieged it. So Daniel is going to be a young man taken out of Jerusalem in that very first wave of exiles that we’ve already talked about in previous episodes. Look at the descriptors in verse four. Children in whom was noblemish but well favored, skilful in all wisdom and cunning, in knowledge and understanding, science and such as has had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace. So these are the youth that show the greatest promise. The top of their class, so to speak, out of Jerusalem, are being taken into Babylon, into the King’s court. It’s a very unique place in that culture.
Yeah. So what happens is, in these ancient cultures, when they want to impose their culture on these conquered people, the idea is you get the best of the rising generation and you train them in your culture and in your learning and part of the book of Daniel. And there are many amazing things to learn from here, but part of it is how do you live in the world but not be of the world? How does Daniel both serve well within the place he’s been appointed, while also maintaining his identity as a believer and follower of God. So these Babylonians and literary seat with the Persians, they’re also having to grapple with how do we work with people who, Mary, not have our religious values? And we see one of the major outcomes in this story is that Daniel and others who were willing to accept the good that the society they were in offered them, while also standing true in what they knew to be true and good. It caused these leaders and Mary people in our society to acknowledge the God of heaven and to recognize who he was. So it’s interesting, this interplay, because if you think about for most of the Israelite history, they’ve been in their land, the land that God promised to Abraham and his posterity.
But what happens when you are no longer in the promised land? How do you maintain your fidelity to God, your sense of identity. And Daniel’s, this interesting model that it’s okay, you can accept and make use of the good that the world has to offer while also maintaining your true identity as a child of God and as a witness for his love.
So we see the first test of Daniel and these three friends of his, that their Hebrew names are Hannaniah, Michel and Azariah. Their names get changed to Shadrach, Misha and Abednego, which is how you’re probably familiar with them. They’re Babylonian names or Aramaic. And we should probably just take a moment here and make this very clear. The Jewish people in Jerusalem are speaking Hebrew, which is a related language. It’s in the language family with Aramaic, which is the main language in Babylon of the huge empire. So Hebrew is like this dialect of this bigger dominant language, Aramaic. Well, that language is going to permeate that culture for 600 years. So when Jesus is born, he isn’t raised speaking Hebrew, he’s raised speaking Aramaic. This is the language that Jesus would have known. So the king is taking these Hebrews and he’s teaching them the language and he’s feeding them his food, he’s raising them in his court. And the first real test comes in verse five. The king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat and of the wine which he drank. So he’s giving them the fineries, the delicacies of his table, to prepare them to grow up to become better servants of Him.
And if he’s feeding them meats and delicacies from his table, you can guarantee many of them would not fit the Judaic law of Moses with their food prohibitions, their form of the word of wisdom. And so you get verse eight says, but Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore, he requested to the princes of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. He’s saying, I don’t want to eat that food, I’m not going to defile myself. Well, the guy in charge here, he’s nervous. He’s saying, well, I’m going to lose my head. If after a short period of time you’re not as strong as all these others, I’m going to be the one held accountable. Did you notice back in verse five it said that the people who are gathered are people who understand science? So isn’t it fascinating that in verse twelve, daniel invokes this scientific method, right, he says, prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days, and let them give us pulse to eat and water to drink. Pulse, it’s something that is sown.
So it’s like vegetables, grains, fruits of the filled. Give us those and give us water to drink instead of the king’s wine. And after ten days, let’s do a science experiment here, prove this. If our countenance is fallen, if we’re not as strong, then we’ll stand corrected.
And what happens? So he consented and I love him. These Babylonians are not dumb people. They’re like, okay, let’s give that a shot, we can run a test. So he consented to them in this matter, improved them ten days. And at the end of the ten days, their countenances appeared fairer and fatter and flesh than all the children which should eat the portion of the king’s meat. Thus meltzer took away the portion of their meat and the wine that they should drink and gave them pulse. So Daniel again is making it clear I can participate in the society, but I also can stand firm in my convictions. And I also have to say I appreciate the Babylonians were willing to accommodate the religious needs of Daniel at this particular point. And we’ll see other stories where initially they didn’t. And when we live in a large global society where there’s different people, different viewpoints and opinions, there’s this interaction of like, at what point? What do we accept from other cultures that is good? And what do we say? I’m not going to accept that because that crosses boundaries for what God has revealed in my life.
So we see these interesting stories that we don’t see these as much in the narratives of first and second kings, although I guess you do get the canaanites and the people worshiping Baal. And so again, we live in a society where this is viable today, where we don’t have to completely reject the world entirely. Like we all fought a war in heaven to come to this world and to be tested and tried like Daniel. And I love that we get this message from Daniel that we can know what’s true and stand firm and we can appreciate people in our culture who perhaps may not accept all of our values, but they’re willing to accommodate and support us in the things that we care about. I’ll just share just a brief story about this. I grew up in Minnesota. There were not a lot of members of the church. And growing up in high school, I loved the fact I had early morning seminary. I had really dedicated teachers, young men’s leaders, bishops and other leaders that encouraged me to understand the Gospel. And as I was getting older in high school and things would happen where I’d have to declare my values, at first I was a little nervous about it.
I thought, are my friends going to reject me? And I felt deeply grateful for my friends. None who ever joined the church were so respectful of me. They actually thought I was cool. I became a cool kid in high school because of the values that I clearly stood for. And I learned by Daniel that I can accept the truth and I don’t have to compromise my values by living in society. And I can have lots of friends from lots of different walks of life. And I feel I’ve actually written letters to my friends telling them, I so appreciate the maturity you had as a teenager, that you are willing to accept me as I was. I hope when I get, you know, when I grew up, I could be more like you, that I can be accepting of other people who might think differently than me. And I don’t want to force them to change, but I can love them where they’re at. And that’s what they did for me.
Powerful, powerful example. So let’s jump to the conclusion of this particular story in verse 17. As for these four children, what happened to them? It says God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom. And Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. It reminds me of one of the promises contained in Doctrine of Covenant, section 89, our modern word of wisdom. That it’s not just to keep your body healthy and strong and full of energy and vitality. It goes beyond that. Listen to section 89, verse 19. They shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. I see it all as connected to God’s commandments given to us regarding what we should and shouldn’t do, what we shouldn’t, shouldn’t eat, how we should take care of our physical bodies. This, this is wonderful gift that God has given to our spirits for our mortal journey.
That ties into what Clint talked about earlier, that Joseph Smith, seeking to be more like Jesus was in the Scriptures and reads in James about seeking wisdom, that God is the source of wisdom. We see that happening here. This is a fulfillment of James Five, although it happens centuries before that. If we do what God commands, we will experience wisdom and knowledge in our lives. So I invite you to think to yourself, what in my life have I lived a particular command? And what wisdom or knowledge did I gain? Or maybe you say to yourself, I’m going to actually run a test this week. Maybe I’ll give myself ten days like I saw Daniel did, and I’m going to try some particular commandment that maybe I struggle with and give it ten days. And do you gain more wisdom and knowledge? You find yourself drawing closer to Jesus Christ because you have run that ten day test. Be a scientist with the Gospel like test, the principles of the Gospel. Prove God that he’s teaching the truth, that the things that he’s revealed will help you to find more joy and peace and happiness and to draw closer to Him.
So Clint, from a teaching and learning perspective, how would you frame Daniel? Chapter one?
Yeah, great question. And maybe that’s what I’ll do is share some ideas. Those of you teachers out there, whether it’s parents or teachers, what are some of the things in the context of Daniel? Chapter One knowing the power of the scriptures and also thinking about the students or the children that we’re teaching, how can we take Daniel, chapter one and allow learning experiences for those that we teach? And so I’ll share a few ideas. In fact, what I’ll do is I’ll share a prophetic principle that leads to edifying learning. And then we’ll kind of talk about that in the context of, in this case, Daniel chapter one. So Elder Henry B. Iring said, you will teach with the Spirit of God as you take your students into the Scriptures. And so that’s a beautiful principle to take our students into the Scriptures. What would that look like in Daniel chapter one? One thing that you could do is help them get their being with Daniel, help them become part of the Daniel Shadrach Meshaka bed to go experience. It might look like something like this, where you say to the youth that you’re with, hey, who are three of your good friends?
Can you think about them? So now you can picture the four of you. Picture that you’re in this new setting that’s unfamiliar to you, and you’ve made commitments with the Savior. You have made covenants with the Savior to keep yourself clean and in this new environment with you and your friends. And you’re out one night, you’re in a setting where you are being strongly pressured to break those covenants or to break those commitments. What do you do? And then as teachers, listen. Just listen to the youth. Listen to them tell you what they might do and why they might do it. What that does is that creates a relevancy to what they’re experiencing the Scriptures with what the youth are experiencing in their lives. It’s not just about Daniel and Shadrach and Michael and Bendigo, but it’s about your children at home around the table where they might share what they would or wouldn’t do. So, number one, take them into the Scriptures. Number two, another principle trust the Scriptures. As I mentioned before, elder Hale says, for when we want to speak with God, we pray. When we want God to speak with us, we search the Scriptures.
Elder Richard G. Scott said to me, the word edify means that the Lord will personalize our understanding of truth to meet our individual needs. Now, with those two principles in mind, what would that look like in Daniel chapter one? This is what you could do. Taylor and Tyler have done a wonderful job reviewing the context and some of the content in chapter one. Assuming you’ve done that in the class, now allow the Scriptures and the Spirit to do the teaching. It might be as simple as you inviting the youth or inviting your children to study Daniel chapter one, verses eight. Through study those, look for things that you admire about Daniel and the blessings that he receives and Shadrach and Michael and a mendego. But also, as you study these verses, you’ll have impressions come to your mind about you and your friends and your commitment that you’ve made with the Savior. Will you pay attention to those two things? What do you learn about these great Hebrew men and the covenants that they kept? But also, what do you learn about you and your friends? And then just listen, just let them go. In my experience, one of the sweetest experiences of learning is when we as teachers actually turn youth and adults to the text, because when they study Scripture, the Holy Ghost will bring into their minds and hearts things they need to learn.
Now, here’s the third thought. Elder Bednar says teaching is not talking and telling. Rather, teaching is observing, listening and discerning so we know what to say. What might that look like? Well, when we turn students into the scriptures and our children into the Scriptures and they’re studying, what do we do as teachers? In those moments and those minutes where they’re studying scriptures, teachers are listening and discerning and observing so that they will then know what to say. Wise teachers are praying, I think, in those moments, praying that their children and their youth and their young men and their young women and the adults that are studying those verses, that Heavenly Father will speak to them through the scriptures and having trust that that will happen. You may have heard of Elder Bennar, who often will make this invitation to people. As you know, he’s often having others ask him questions, right? Many times when he’s asked questions, he’ll say, get an inexpensive copy of the Book of Mormon and with your questions, study the Book of Mormon cover to COVID because Elder Ben trusts the student studying the Scriptures that the Spirit will give them impressions and answers.
That’s what we’re doing in the context of Daniel One. We trust that same thing that the Spirit is going to teach the students. And they will learn by the power of the Holy Ghost. If we trust the Scriptures, but also as teachers, if we observe and wait. Now, they’ve studied for a few minutes these verses. What do you do as a teacher? You listen. You listen to the Spirit and you listen to the students. A couple of weeks ago, I was in the back of a seminary class, and it was a sweet experience. These 25 to 30 youth had studied the Scriptures for about five minutes, and it was a sweet moment. There was a good feeling of edification as teenagers are studying the Scriptures. And the teacher asked a question and a few students responded. And I was watching this girl in the corner who was a little bit quiet, didn’t say much. And out of nowhere the teacher asked the student, what do you think about this? Then this inspired teacher followed up with a simple question what did that experience teach you about Heavenly Father? To me, that was a wonderful example of a teacher not being scripted, but being inspired on what to ask and when.
And because of that, I was blessed. And if I were reading the students correctly, they too felt the power of the Holy Ghost. I don’t know if you’re like me as a teacher where you sometimes feel like you’ve got to COVID the material or get through the lesson. There’s this internal expectation to get it done. It’s an interesting change in my mentality as a teacher if the getting it done is this is leading experiences where the students can learn by the power of the Holy Ghost. Elder Geoffrey R. Holland said, an unrushed atmosphere is absolutely essential if you are to have the spirit of the Lord present in your class. Brothers and sisters, these are sweet moments to feel unrushed. Sometimes I get so fast as a teacher that I don’t allow these moments that are soft and still and unrushed. May we in our teaching allow the Holy Ghost time to teach instead of being in such a hurry that we rush right through edification.
So I spent a career doing teaching and learning development, and I love the things that Clint has taught us. I learned from a very wise teacher. At one point, it was one of my bosses at Brigham Young University, a guy named Russ Ostrathorpe, who was also the General Sunday School president of the church. And there were new professors who’d just been hired. And Russ was teaching people different principles about being great teachers. And he put a picture of an American baseball field when it’s raining. And you can see an image here of when it rains during a baseball game, they cover the field with a tarp to protect the dirt so it doesn’t get all muddy. And he said, all right, what do we see here? People said, well, they’ve covered the field. And he said, Sometimes as teachers, we feel this driving need to COVID the field of all this content. And when you cover the field, you can’t see the field. To back up what Clint is saying, there is time and despair to be in the Scriptures. Your 30 minutes lesson or whatever time you have, you do not have to get through all thousands of pages in the Scriptures.
Luckily, God has given us plenty of time in our lives. Personal study, group study. So it’s okay if you don’t get through everything, because if you literally do try to COVID the field, it may be that the learners end up not seeing that Jesus is that field white, ready to harvest. So I just found that Russell was just a great, inspiring teacher and used a great metaphor to help me realize my job as a teacher is not to simply just declare a lot of content, but to be focused and fixated on how do I help the learners become who they need to be, which is more like God.
So in that spirit, we’re going to kind of skip over a whole bunch of verses here and not cover them in depth. In chapter two.
So I hope I didn’t disappoint you. Did you want to actually cover the filter?
No, it’s totally fine. Because what happens, we can just bridge the gap to the verses that we want to COVID here. In chapter two, king of the Kadiza has a series of dreams that are very troubling to him, very disconcerting, and he has no idea what any of them mean. So he calls for his astrologers, his magicians, his wise men to come and help him. And they say, okay, well, tell us your dream and then we’ll interpret it for you. And he says, no, I’m not going to trust your interpretation unless you can tell me what my dream was along with the interpretations. Quite the test. And they’re all looking at each other saying, I don’t know anyone who can do this. And they say, this is so unusual that you’re making an unreasonable demand here. And he says, fine, let’s kill all of the astrologers and all of these magicians. Will Daniel from chapter one, you’ll remember, he had great wisdom and a way to dream dreams and interpret dreams. So when they come to collect them as part of the group that’s going to be killed, he says, Wait, what’s going on? And he says, we can interpret this dream, we can figure this out.
So you’ll notice what Daniel did. He didn’t just rush into the King and say, hey, I’ve got an answer for you. I’ll tell you your dream and I’ll interpret it. Because Daniel didn’t know what the dream was at that point. He hadn’t studied it out, he hadn’t sought revelation yet. So he just goes and buys some time with the King. And then look at this critical verse 18. He asks shadow of Niche and Abednego that they would desire mercies of the God of Heaven concerning this secret that Daniel and his fellows should not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. So he gets shattered, Michael and Abed and go to join him in petitioning God for a miracle. Here, help us know what is this dream. And you’ll find that it becomes this little symbolic type of Christ where he’s going to get some help from heaven, performed some miraculous thing, which in the end is going to save Oliver. It’s going to save people from death. Anything that you can do to save people from death and destruction is a type of Christ at that degree. And that’s what we’re seeing here.
So the secret is revealed unto Daniel in a night vision in verse 19. And so Daniel woke up and he blessed the God of heaven. So then he goes into the King and he shares with him, I’ll tell you your dream. You saw a very large image. And I had a head of gold and I had arms and a chest of silver, and I had belly and central part of its body out of brass and I had legs of iron and it had feet and toes of iron mixed with clay. Can you picture Nebuchadnezzar sitting there listening to this going, okay, that’s exactly what I dreamed of, and what in the world is this crazy image mean? And then there was a stone that came and crushed that image, ground it to pieces, and he’s saying, So, interpretation, what does it mean? You’ll notice Daniel tells him, God has shown you envision Nebuchadnezzar, what he’s going to do moving forward. So that head of gold, that’s the kingdom of Babylon, that’s you, and you’re going to be overthrown by the Meds and the Persians, these two arms, these two kingdoms that are going to come together, that kingdom of silver is going to replace you, which is then going to be replaced by the Macedonians or the Greeks.
Alexander the Great is going to come and go on conquest for that whole Mediterranean region. And then following him is the Roman conquest. And you’re going to get the two legs, you’ve got Rome and Constantinople that are in the future going to be battling for power. And then you’ve got all of those kingdoms at the toes that summer iron, summer clay, some are strong, some are weaker, but they’re not really coalesced together. All of these kingdoms in Asia and Europe moving forward that are going to replace the Roman Empire, he just gave him not a history lesson, but a future lesson. This is what’s going to happen. Now, some would be scratching their heads saying, why would God have done this to Nebuchadneser and for Daniel, shadrachmich and abandoned? Why do they need to know what’s in the future and all these kingdoms? And it’s a really valid question and I can’t tell you why God did that. I’ve got some ideas, but that’s all they are. Isn’t it fascinating that this was not intended to be done in a corner in secret and don’t tell anyone, it’s recorded in scripture? Do you like the fact that the Lord leaves his fingerprints throughout the history of time where he’ll do things and he’ll reveal things so that when they do happen, people aren’t saying, well, that was random, but rather, well, that was prophesied it’s.
This back to the science area, it’s proved me now here with he’s showing you over and over again that you can trust him, that he’s not guessing the future, he’s not predicting it, he’s not, he’s not rolling dice and divining what’s going to happen. He knows the future. Our faith is not in a being who is stuck with mortal perceptions of. Well. We have a really good feeling about how we think things are trending at this point. But rather. I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen in what order. And that provides more of a firm foundation for my faith today to see in the history of time how God revealed certain things. They come to pass so that when our prophets stand at the pulpit today and give us prophecies or give us direction. We don’t have to scratch our head and say I wonder if he’s accurate. I wonder to what degree I can trust what he just said.
And what I love also what’s going on here is Daniel had been trained in all the best learning and science of the Babylonians. He was very well educated. When you’re at the king’s court, being an astrologer or scientist, you had access to all the best records. It turns out archaeologists have now found these massive libraries from ancient Assyria, ancient Babylon, and these people had incredible universities, if I can use that term, where there were people who were trained to understand how the world worked. And here’s Daniel, who knew a lot. He knew how to interpret dreams and to understand the stars. And yet in this case, he didn’t know the answer. Even with all his training, he did not simply and only rely on the wisdom of the world. The wisdom of the world is not always bad. It’s very helpful many times. But he turns to God and says I’m in a situation where my wisdom gets me here and I need you Lord, to bridge the gap, to get me to a higher plane. And God gives the revelation. So there are multiple lessons I think we can draw out of here that we should learn from our experiences and experiences of others to be wise.
And when we don’t have wisdom, we always need to be turning to God. And I also appreciate that God gives us a way of understanding how he works in history. Of course, he uses signs and symbols that made a lot of sense to the people back then culturally. And guess what? If we roll the clock forward 2000 years from now, people might say why are they always talking about basketball and sports metaphors in General Conference? Well, because we try to speak in ways that makes sense to people at that time. And so this metaphor and this dream that’s happening for the King of Babylon makes a lot of sense of these people in that time. And it’s clear for them to see that, yeah, statues are a symbol of solidarity. They’re often representing a God who’s immovable and who preserves a kingdom. And the fact that it gets knocked out by a stone carved without hands is very, very telling because the image itself has to be carved by hand. And what we learn in Genesis, we are God’s image. So there’s something going on with this stone that God is involved in knocking out human created solutions.
Not that they’re bad, but ultimately it’s God’s kingdom, his revealed kingdom, that is the totality of all truth that we aspire to have in our lives.
So let’s talk briefly about that stone cut out of the mountain without hands, looking in the context of verse 44 and 45 and in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom. So you’ll notice, using this metaphor of God showing the future to Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel, it’s that idea of, now we’ve gotten down to the toes, these ten kingdoms, and he’s saying, at that time, this stone is going to come and wipe out this huge idol. Which means you and I can now have greater faith in the prophecies that maybe aren’t fulfilled yet, because we can see the prophecies in the very same dream that have been fulfilled again, it increases the foundation for our faith. So the God of Heaven sets up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. For as much as thou saw us that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it break in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter.
And the dream is certain and the interpretation thereof sure. Joseph Smith took Daniel, chapter two, verse 44 and 45, and he used that as the metaphor for the church and kingdom of God that was being restored to the earth, saying it will never be taken from the earth, it will continue to grow, and it will be the means whereby all of these prophecies are going to be fulfilled. Which ironically, it was that belief that gets Joseph into significant legal trouble in Missouri. During those Missouri mob struggles, a judge has him in court and some former members of the church are testifying that Joseph is trying to take over the world. And they quote Daniel 244 and 45. And the judge turns to Joseph and says, do you believe Daniel 244 and 45? And Joseph says, yes, I do. And that adds fuel to this fire of sea. You’re trying to overthrow the government of Missouri and then the government of the United States. And it’s ironic how his belief in scripture actually led to further legal struggles for them. Which now brings us to chapter three, Nebuchadneser. He sets up this huge idol. The height in verse one says it’s three square cubits, that’s 60 cubits, roughly 90ft high, and the breadth thereof was six qubits, roughly 9ft wide.
This is huge.
This is what often leaders will do. They’ll get into power and they want to establish some kind of enduring physical monument where their memory can be retained. If we look back to the story of the Tyler of Babel in Genesis eleven, a bunch of unnamed people get together and say, let us make our name great, so let’s build this big tower. In the very next chapter, you have one man that God singles out. His name is Abraham. And God goes to him and says, I the Lord. God will make you great. I will make your name great and your descendants great, and you get the same thing going on. The role of leadership is not to aggrandize yourself, to not collect all the resources and to build some monument to yourself so people can glorify you. It’s to serve and help you. Think about King Benjamin. Was he building monuments to himself?
He was out in the fields working.
What is this king doing here? He’s having the people work. He’s like King Noah. He’s sitting around on his throne, let every work, taking all the taxes and building monuments to say, look how awesome I am. It’s like, no, the people are awesome because they’re working hard. So this is a very common thing. And it makes me think, what kind of leader do I aspire to be and what kind of leaders do I support? Do I support leaders that aggrandize themselves? Do I seek to aggrandize myself or do I seek to be like King Benjamin or to be like Jesus, where my role is to always serve and uplift others and help them to become great so that God is great?
Yeah. And by the way back to this learner focus here, the question might be for you and me, what is this huge 90 foot high idol today made out of gold that we’re commanded by the king to bow down and worship whenever the music plays? Because chances are very slim that any of you have this exact scenario playing out in your part of the world. But to be sure, there are idols that this world offers and at times demands that we pay homage to or obesence to or pay money for. And so as we continue through this chapter, just be asking yourself, how is this part of our story today? So you’ll notice Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in this chapter. This is their chapter Shine. When the music plays, they refuse to bow down while everybody else is bowing down. It’s pretty obvious. So they get called on it and they get brought in before the king and questioned and told, if you don’t bow down, you will be thrown into a fiery furnace. And notice the response in verse 17 and 18 if it be so, if you actually throw us into a fiery furnace, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king.
So who’s the most powerful? The hand is a symbol of power. And the King of Babylon, who believes himself to be a God, who believes he has all power, control these servants, they truly are not the servant of the king of Babylon. They serve the king of heaven.
It’s beautiful. And then verse 18, the first three words of verse 18 are some of the best words I know in all of Scripture to describe faith. But if not many years ago, elder Dennis e. Simmons gave a talk in General Conference called But If not and in here he’s talking about this exact scenario. Listen to what he said. Faith is believing that although we do not understand all things he does. Faith is knowing that although our power is limited, his is not. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on him. Not in the arm of flesh, not in the wisdom of the world, but complete reliance on Him. And then he goes on to say, the Lord has given us agency, the right and the responsibility to decide. He tests us by allowing us to be challenged. This is very clearly a challenging situation for their faith. Their faith is being tried and tested here. He assures us that he will not suffer us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. But we must understand that great challenges make great men and women. We don’t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us.
The but if nots can become remarkable blessings. So notice they’re. But if not in verse 17 they gave their assurance god is able to deliver us, and he will deliver us. But if not, be it known unto the O King that we will not serve thy Gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up tonight. I love the fact that shadowy Misha and Abednego are not putting the test on God. They’re keeping the test on them. They’re not saying we’ll trust God. We’ll have faith in God as long as he delivers us from physical death, as long as I get that job, as long as I get goal XYZ, whatever it may be. But if he doesn’t give it to me, then I’m not going to trust Him, and I’m not going to rely on Him. That’s putting the test on Him. I love Shadrach, Mishak and Abednego’s example of saying, look, God’s not the one on trial here. It’s me. And I am going to put my full and complete trust in Him at all times and in all conditions that I may be in, even unto death. I’m going to stand as a witness of Him, that God is good.
He hears and answers every prayer. He may not answer them the way that I wanted, but he hears and answers every prayer. And you get this principle played out. And then, Elder Simmons, later on in this talk, many of you will remember listen to this sequence. Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution. But if not, our God will deliver us from sickness and disease. But if not, he will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear. But if not, our God will deliver us from threats, accusations and insecurity. But if not, he will deliver us from death and or impairment of loved ones. But if not, we will trust the Lord. So, brothers and sisters, as you once again face your own King Nebuchadnezzar, your own worldly decrees and demands and your own tests and trials of faith. Oh, our hope and our prayer for all of us is that we won’t have our discipleship and our love and our faith and our trust in God be conditioned on an outcome that we have determined, but that we go into those tests and trials with the outcome already in place of complete trust that God is in charge.
He has all power, he has all knowledge, and he will do all things for our good. And even if things don’t turn out the way we had anticipated or desired, doesn’t mean that we should then not trust God. It means that we should put even greater faith in Him moving forward and greater reliance on Him and on his power and his love and his knowledge. So you’ll notice their little speech to the King didn’t soften his heart. It didn’t all of a sudden take away the trial. It didn’t take away this consequence from them. The furnace is stoked seven times hotter than it’s ever been before. They go and throw them into the burning, fiery furnace, and the guards who throw them in are consumed by the heat. They fall into the fire, and then they stand up, and then they start walking around. And the King’s really confused, and he says, hey, I thought we threw three people in, but I see four, and one of them is in the likeness of the Son of God. And he calls for them to come out and notice the effect. Verse 27. And the princes, governors and captains, the King’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
They didn’t even smell like smoke as they come out of this extremely hot, fiery furnace. I wonder if there’s a lesson for us today as we figure out what our furnaces of affliction might be. Whether it’s health related, whether it’s financial, whether it’s relational, whether it’s mental, emotional, spiritual, whatever it may be. This idea that the flame shall not hurt thee, I only design thy draws to consume and thy gold to refine, you can actually pass through a fiery furnace and come out more refined and a better person. And by the way, if Shadrach, Misha and Abednago were invited into this episode, if we had the way to do that, do you think they would say, oh, let us tell you what a terrible experience that was. Let us tell you how anxiety inducing and how fearful we were, and it was the worst experience of our life? Do you think they would say that? Or do you think they would say, I wish I had 100 lives to give the Lord? I would have done that again and again and again for Him because of what I learned about Him. And what I learned about myself in passing through that fire.
Brothers and sisters, trials and tribulations are not always calculated to destroy you, even though they may be by the Nebuchadnesers of our world. But when you put your faith and your trust in God, and when you’re in a covenant relationship with Christ, those fires turn from fires of destruction into fires of refinement. And they can become some of the most defining points of our mortal existence, that we praise God even more for allowing us to pass through those.
Don’t we sing a song, the Spirit of God, like a fire is burning? Don’t we want the spirit of God with us? That the baptism of fire. So it’s interesting how these humans are trying to kill people with fire, and yet God himself is often represented in the Old Testament as he got a fire. I don’t want to push it too far, but we should be embracing of the fire. Now look, nobody go touch fire, you’re going to get hurt. But symbolically, God invites us to be purified. We’ve mentioned in other episodes the word fire and pure come from the same root word. If you want to be pure in heart, as Jesus is, we have to step into God’s fiery presence and to be purified. I didn’t know I was just going to get so choked up about this. So I love the fact that these three righteous Hebrew men, they knew that the real fire they were entering into was the fire of God’s presence. That’s what we see there in verse 25. The fourth is like the Son of God. So just know that you can experience God’s fire and it will be purifying and enlivening and not simply painful.
And you’ll notice the effect that this has, not just for Shadrach, Niche and Abednego. Look at verse 28. Then Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who have sent his angel and delivered his servants that trusted in him and have changed the king’s word and yielded their bodies that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God. Some hearts have changed because of some decisions that were made here. By the way, we need to make this point as well. This story ended the way we wanted it to end. This is a it seems to be a happily ever after. Not all stories in scriptures result in people being delivered from fiery flames. You get a beardy in the Book of Mormon who his life was not spared. But the promise is no different for a beardy than it is for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. If you look back at verse 17, if it so be our God, whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. In his case, the fiery scourging that they were going to give him. He will deliver us out of thy hando, King.
Well, God did deliver ain’t II out of the hand of Noah, just not in the way some people would have wanted or expected it. He has taken to the spirit world, delivered out of the hands and the abuse of king known as priests in a different sort of a way. And I could picture a Bennett using these exact same words from verse 17 and 18. But if not, even if God doesn’t deliver me from death, and he seemed to know that he wasn’t going to be delivered, he says, I’m still not going to recant or take back the words that I’ve spoken concerning you. So whether you’re saved from death or whether you have to succumb to death, whitmer. That looks like it doesn’t change this test of faith that God has given us. Okay, Clint, so give us your perspective on ways that teachers could approach chapter three.
Okay, maybe for this chapter, let’s assume we’re with adults. It’s an adult setting with Sunday School or Elders Quorum or Relief Society. What are some of those things that we could do in the context of Daniel, chapter three, that will help learners or students feel the power of the Holy Ghost? Hear him so that the Holy Ghost will change the hearts of those individuals that are there. President Packer and Teaching Diligently gave us a great insight in how we can help teach and learn in edifying ways. He said this when we study how Jesus taught, we might note that he employed one principle of teaching more than any other. If we understand this principle and employ it, it will improve us as teachers of religion, perhaps more than any other thing we could learn about his teaching techniques. Educators refer to it as the principle of app perception. App perception is defined as the process of understanding something perceived in terms of previous experience. This means that if we have something difficult to teach, such as honesty or reverence or love, we should begin with the experience of the student and talk about the thing, the things he already knows.
I have seen in teaching and learning experiences that if we can begin with what the student already enos, that that creates a great environment as teachers to listen, observe, and discern, and it also creates a relevant experience. Upfront what might that look like in chapter three? It might look like this where a teacher says, class, what are some of the trials that you’re experiencing right now? Will you just think about maybe past trials or current trials? You’re like Shadrach, meshach and abandoned. You’re keeping your covenants, but you also have fiery furnaces in your life. What are those? What are you learning? And as you think about your experience, look at this statement on the board. Assume the statements on the board. I’d love to hear in your experience what you think about this statement. The Lord will always oliver us from our trials by giving us what we want. When we want. So what do you think in your experience class? What do you think about that? And just let them talk. And as they’re talking, you’re listening and you’re asking them questions. And we’re actually beginning with the experience of the learner and what they’ve experienced in regards to trials and the Savior.
Then you start to transition to what we can learn. Here another thought. Elder Holland said, almost all revelation comes in response to a question. You might be wise in the context of Gin of Daniel, chapter three. After we’ve talked about maybe experiences of trials that they’ve gone through, to pause and ask this question what is your question today? We’re going to spend some time studying scriptures about trials. You’re having them. You’ve had them or you will have them. What do you hope to learn today about the Savior in your trials? And let them think about a question that they have and let that be the core revelatory question for them. You’re almost creating a Joseph Smithlike experience where the scripture is not James one five, it’s Daniel three. We’re going to see the Savior for sure. We’ve seen that with Taylor and Tyler and their great insights. But now we’re saying, you’re the learner, you have trials. What do you hope to learn today? With a high level of trust that the spirit will teach them. So we have app perception, help them create a question, then help them act. Okay, let me read to you.
At Elder Bennard taught, nephi teaches us when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost carries the message unto the hearts of the children of men. Quoting 2533. One Elder Bednard continues, please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto, but not necessarily into the heart. A teacher can explain, demonstrate, persuade, and testify, and do so with great spiritual power and effectiveness. Ultimately, however, the content of the message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter a learner exercising agency and acting. Acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. In other words, each of our students has a beautiful heart, and the Holy Ghost values agency. And the Holy Ghost will take the message unto, not into, unless that learner opens his or her heart. So how do you get learners to open their hearts? Elder Bennard would say, help them act, help them do something. So in the context of Daniel three, how do you help learners actually do something so their hearts are open so that the spirit can teach them?
Here are a few ideas. Number one, you pick the verses. Taylor and Tyler focused a lot on 17 and 18, so let’s use those two verses. Give your students time in class to study those two. Verses. That’s an action with a lot of trust that the Holy Ghost will teach them. And it might look something simple like this. Will you study verses 17 and 18 and find your favorite phrase? Use footnotes, read it three or four or five times, identify your favorite phrase, or it might look like this. Study verses 17 and 18 and listen closely to your thoughts and impressions. Will you be ready to share with the class something that came to you? It might not be in the blackwoods from the text, but it might be an impression that comes to your heart or your mind about your life, your trials, and what you’re trying to do to allow the Savior to deliver you another idea, again in the context of helping students act. If you’ll go with me to verse 28, then Nebuchadnezzar spake and said, blessed be the God of Shadrachmi, shak and abandoned, who hath sent his angel. Most people have phones.
What a beautiful opportunity to maybe go into your phone, highlight that phrase, and then click the word note in Gospel library and say, class, I want to give you a few minutes. You’ve clicked the note. Will you just write down who you have felt in your life, the Savior has sent you, who has been an angel to you, who has helped deliver you from some of your trials and difficulties, and will you identify who that angel is and how he or she has helped you, and then just let them go? The Spirit will identify someone for them, and they’ll write some things in their phone, and they’ll save it, and that will be there for a long time for them to be able to use throughout their life. Again, that’s an idea to help people act in the middle of class so that the Spirit can work upon them. Okay, one last idea again to help students act. Verses 17 and 18. We know in verse 18, but if not right, that great phrase, verse 17. Those first four words to me are just as powerful, if it be so. In fact, daniel. Daniel. We see daniel Shadrach, meshach and abandoned.
They’re delivered if it be so. Those are great, great examples in Scripture of when the Lord does deliver them. Another idea to help students act would be to invite them to take a few minutes and identify one scriptural experience of a but if not where. The Lord does not deliver the individual, maybe in the way that they intended, in the timing that they intended, and then just let them go. You will find that individuals will have examples come to their mind and their heart that will be very, very helpful for them. They’ll choose different examples. They’ll go to different places. Then as a class, you can discuss some scriptural examples of but if not and then you can follow up with questions about what can we learn about the Savior when he delivers individuals, maybe in different ways that they intended, and then let the class discuss those great ideas. Again, these are ideas to help students act so that the power of the Holy Ghost can whisper to their hearts truths about their trials and circumstances.
Isn’t this fun, getting that perspective from Clint of some of these teaching and learning overlays, and some ideas of how to now take what you’re learning and help others discover those truths from the help of the Holy Ghost. I love this. Now, as we turn our page over to chapter four, chapters four and five kind of go together in this couplet, in this pairing, because Daniel is going to interpret another dream for Nebuchadnezzar. And this chapter ends in an interesting way. Nebuchadnezzar becomes very troubled by some of the things, and he actually seems to to lose his mind for a period of time.
He goes wild, he goes crazy. But then in the end, he acknowledges the God of heaven. And what I think is interesting here is that you have this dream of a tree. Have we ever heard of scriptures of trees, dreams of trees? Now, it’s a very common motif in the ancient world. Trees were symbols of luxurious bounty and sustenance and shade, and sometimes even represented divinity or divine protection. And we see this everywhere in the ancient Middle East, and we particularly see it in Nephi’s story where he sees the tree. We know that it represents in his story Jesus, an atonement what happens here? Like a reader would say, oh, there’s a tree. Well, clearly something good’s gonna happen. And there’s this inversion where the king is essentially overthrown in his mind that the tree represents that he will not have his sustenance until he acknowledges that everything he needs in life comes from God, including his mental sanity. So it’s just really, again, if you were an ancient reader and you heard someone who started talking about a tree, I know how this ends. It’s like telling a story once upon a time. We all know it ends happily ever after.
But we have this unexpected plot twist that the king has to learn that the only way that the tree is of any value to him is if he chooses to trust in God, which is kind of a conclusion here. Yeah.
So now that is an example. And then you go to chapter five with Nevaezer’s son, Belshazzar, who takes over for his father. And he’s a pretty riotous king. He’s living it up here, and he has this big party with his friends, and he actually takes the golden vessels from the temple in Jerusalem that have been captured, and they’re drinking wine. They’re having their big party and praising their gods, praising their gods with these sacred objects. And then Finger writes on the wall these words, and none of his interpreters, his astrologers, his magicians, can tell him what it means. So he calls in Daniel and he says in verse 14, I’ve heard of thee that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee, so help me. What does this say? So the writing, if you jump over to verse 25, says, I have no idea how to pronounce it, but it’s something like mene, mene teekel a parson. And then Daniel gives him the interpretation which is, god’s numbered thy kingdom and finished it. You’re weighed in the balance and you’re found wanting, and your kingdom is going to be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.
So this, this golden head era of that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, it’s coming to an end. And now we’re going to come down into the chest and arm period of the silver arms and chests of the mediums and the Persians, you’re going to be overthrown. And it was in that very night, chapter five, verse 30 says, in that night was Belshazzar, the king of the Celticians Swain, and Darius the Median took the kingdom being about three score and two years old. So now the meads and the Persians take over. So you’re noticing that Daniel, he’s had to serve in multiple kingly courts.
Yeah, he starts in Jerusalem. We don’t know, maybe he’d been already started as a young youth, being educated in the courts of Jerusalem, he has transferred to Babylon. He’s therefore really the height and the fall of the Babylon empire and the rise of the Persian empire. The Persians were pretty smart. They didn’t just come in and just destroy everything, they just knocked out the king. And if you knock out the king, you win and you simply take over the existing infrastructure. Alexander the Great did the same thing a couple hundred years later. If you knock the king out, you get the kingdom. You just keep all the bureaucratic administration in power, but you just get all the wealth. If you’ve ever heard of the game chess, how does it end? Checkmate. So checkmate is an old Persian word that comes from the word shah mat. The king is dead. So that’s all you have to do, you have to kill everybody. In fact, you don’t want to kill everybody, just get to the king. As soon as the king is dead, shah mat, you win. And that’s what happens here.
So you’ll notice as we open up chapter six, verse one, it pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 princes, which should be over the whole kingdom, and over these three presidents, of whom Daniel was first, that the princess might give accounts unto them and the king should have no damage. Daniel is the number two guy in control of power here.
Sounds like Joseph of Egypt.
Knew how to interpret dreams.
There’s a definite corollary going on here. So these presidents who are interested in power, which by the way is a re echo from the premortal realm of Lucifer’s only desire, which was to have that plot power and glory be all his. He couldn’t stand to share it with anybody else. That’s what’s going on here. So they want to trap Daniel. Look at their conclusion in verse five. Then said these men, we shall not find any occasion against this Daniel except we find it against him concerning the law of his god. He’s impeccable as far as his character and his honor and his integrity. We’re not going to be able to trap him unless we go after his religious beliefs. There we’ll get him. So they have the king sign this decree from verse seven that everyone is going to ask a petition of any god or man for 30 days, save of thee, O king. Nobody’s going to worship any other gods, make no other petitions of anybody but of the O king, because they see this human deification of their kings in that day. They see them as a god, so to speak. And so the king, Darius, he signed.
That decree that’s great people will honor me God. Sign that any day, right? That’s a good fall in human nature.
And you’ll notice verse ten. Now, when Daniel knew that the writing was signed. So Daniel isn’t going to go and break this decree in ignorance. He’s going to break this decree knowing that he’s breaking the decree. But he goes and he prays, kneeling upon his knees three times a day, giving thanks to God. They catch him in the act of praising his god, praying to his God. And he’s brought before the king. Verse 14. When the king heard these words, he was sore displeased with himself, and he set his heart on Daniel to deliver him. And he labored till the going down to the sun to deliver him. But there’s this ancient tradition in these cultures that you can’t go back on a law once it’s established. You see that in the Book of Esther. You see it in other places. So verse 16, the command of the Daniel be brought and cast into the den of lions. But notice what he says in the second half of her 16. Notice the trust that Darius already has in Daniel and Daniel’s God, because Darius.
At this point, he realizes he’s been tricked. I let my own pride get in the way of making sure my kingdom is administered properly by wise and good people. And yet he can’t go against his own decree because then suddenly people won’t trust him as a king. And it just puts problems here. But I love that he does say this.
Now, notice these words and see if they echo at all in your mind from something we just talked about back in chapter three. Now, the king spoke and said unto Daniel, thy God whom thou SERVICET continually, he will deliver thee. You’ll notice he didn’t say, oh, Daniel, I sure hope your God is going to deliver you or Daniel. I got a good feeling about this. I think your God is going to deliver you or Daniel, pray for all your worth. I’m so sorry. It’s my bad, but you got to go. Good luck. He didn’t say any of that. He said, Daniel, thy God, whom thou worship, whom thou service continually, he will deliver thee. There’s a trial of faith for this non Israelite king. He seems to be passing this trial of faith. So they lay the stone on the mouth of the den. King sealed it with his own signet. And notice verse 18. The king went to his palace and passed the night fasting. Neither were instruments of music brought before him, and his sleep went from him. He stays up all night, and he’s pacing back and forth. The king rose very early in the morning and went in haste under the den of lions.
When he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel, o Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou service continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Did you notice what just happened? He didn’t go and say, hey, Daniel, I know you’re in there, so come on out. He goes there and he cries out in a lamentable voice, daniel, did your God save you? I love that you can have these expressions of absolute faith and trust from back in verse 16 and then move forward, hoping and holding on to that belief that this is going to happen. But it’s not an absolute assurance. It’s that, but if not principle yet again, this time happening for Darius, he’s like, Are you there? Are you okay? I think you should be there. You should be okay. I love that your faith it’s okay. It’s okay if you have questions. It’s okay if everything isn’t absolutely crystal clear to you today in your own struggles moving forward. It’s okay if you’ve had great expressions of faith in God. But now you’re going through a trial and you’re not sure absolutely what the outcome is going to be, it’s okay.
Notice Daniel’s response. O king live forever. My God have sent his angel and has shut the lion’s mouth that they have not hurt me. And in verse 22, he says, my God has sent his angel and has shut the lion’s mouth that they have not hurt me. I love that how that must have reaffirmed not just Daniel’s trust and faith in God, but Darius’s trust and faith in Daniel’s God. And so the king commanded in verse 24 that the men who had set up this trap, they’re the ones that get cast into the dead of lions. And notice 26 I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God and steadfast forever in his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. I love this, that Daniel’s little trial of faith turns into Darius’s trial of faith now, then spreads to positively affect an entire kingdom.
And I love that he concludes. He says, this is Darius. Now, again, part of the purpose of these stories is to show how people living their truth that they get from God can influence other people to also see and accept the truth. And here’s Darius, the king of the most powerful empire on earth at that time, saying God delivereth and rescueth. And he workedth signs and wonders in heaven and on earth who had delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. And the story concludes, so this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. I want to tie this back into receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. When you receive that gift every week at sacrament, you’re invited to renew that covenant, to remember God at all times, and if so, you receive his presence with you. We’ve talked in other lessons that the word prosper in the ancient Hebrew means to have God’s spirit with you. That’s prospering. And so the conclusion here is, ultimately, it’s not about these spectacular miracles. That’s interesting. But ultimately and fundamentally it’s can. We prosper by having God’s spirit with us.
So most of us are not going to get cast in lines then. At least I hope not. But you can, on a weekly basis, prosper like Daniel by having God’s spirit with you, by fulfilling the promise you made at the sacrament table every week, to always remember God. That’s what Daniel did. He always remembered God. He trusted him. We can do the same. And as we do, we will have that prospering spirit.
So here we are finishing chapter six. Clint, what ideas might you give for learners and for teachers?
Thank you, Tyler. I have found that any time we can echo the direction of the living prophet, there’s a different power in the classroom. You’ll remember President Nelson’s talk. Let god prevail. What a wonderful opportunity, maybe as we finish Daniel chapter six, to potentially ask a class or ask a group or even ask in our home. What evidence is there in any of these experiences with Shadrach, Meshach and Abedigo? What evidence is there that they are letting God prevail? Remember some of the key phrases embracing God’s will for us. President Nelson says, taking an eternal perspective, what we want is less important than God’s will for us. Scattered throughout these chapters are opportunities for individuals to study and connect the living prophet, president Russell M. Nelson with the experiences of Shadrak, Meshak at Abednego. Another idea in order to help the power come in the classroom and learning by the Spirit is invite testimony. Help the youth open their mouths. President Packer said, a testimony is found in the bearing of it. In Doctrine and Covenant, section 33, verses 89, we see the Lord’s invitation. Open your mouth and it shall be filled. For lo, I am with you.
Oftentimes when we read those verses, we connect it straight to missionary work. And I definitely think that applies. But in my experience with youth, with adults, with children in primary classes, when students and learners are given an opportunity to testify and share what they feel and know, it is a special moment for the Holy Ghost to testify to the student and also to the class. What could that look like in the context of Daniel? Chapter six in verse 16, tyler touched on this, a wonderful verse. The King commanded, they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. I wish I could see this moment. I don’t know what that moment looks like, but I admire Darius, what a great man, when he then says, and I don’t know if he’s close to Daniel, if it’s a one on one moment, if he’s just on his way down into the den. But then King Darius says, thy God, whom thou SERVICET continually, he will deliver thee. It might be a good idea and an idea of what this could look like. To invite testimony is to ask whoever’s with you. Ask your class. Let’s say you’re a young women’s leader, and you’ve got seven or eight young women with you.
You might say, hey, will you take out your phone? Will you think of someone in your life that might be having a difficult time? They might be right in the middle of a den of lions and they’re having a hard time, and the Holy Ghost will go into the heart and the mind of that young woman, and you say, well, you think about that person. My guess is they’re in your context. Will you send them a text? And don’t just send them any text. Let’s follow the example of King Darius. He literally shared what he knew. Daniel, your God will deliver you young women. I’m going to give you three or four minutes. Will you send a text to that friend of yours or someone you know and share with them what you know about the Savior and how the Savior can help them in their dent of lines right now. And then just give them time, then let them send the text. That’s a wonderful opportunity that’s relevant to youth, where they can share their testimony of the Savior with others. It blesses the young woman. It blesses whoever they send the text to.
And most importantly, it allows a change in the heart, because the power of the Holy Ghost will help them testify. And then maybe one last suggestion, and I’ve given about eight to ten ideas. This one, if I were to share my favorite, the one that I feel may lead to more power in the classroom than anything else, it’s President Nelson’s words, nothing invites the Spirit more than fixing your focus on Jesus Christ. What could that look like in Daniel chapters one through six? As you teachers, as you parents, study those chapters, find a handful of verses that to you really describe the character of Christ and find Him in these verses. And then invite whoever the learners are your children, the young women, the young men, your seminary students to study those verses and see what we can learn about the character of Christ in the context of Daniel chapters one through six. Anytime we find and look for and talk about the character of the Savior, there’s a powerful, powerful feeling that comes. In fact, these ideas that I’ve shared today, they’re really ideas to teach in the Savior’s way. The savior listened and discerned.
The Savior asked really critical questions. The Savior also invited learning and diligent action on the part of those that he taught. The savior focused on scriptures. He had a deep trust in scriptures. The Savior also knew those he taught enough to allow the individual relevancy to be felt in their lives. The Savior was not rushed because he was focused on people. Hopefully, these ideas that we’ve talked about today are really ideas to help us teach in the Savior’s way. And ultimately, if we understand the promise in Doctrine of Covenant, section eight, verse two, where the Savior says, for behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the power of the Holy Ghost, we recognize who the I is. My testimony is any time. Learners learn by the power of the Holy Ghost in their hearts and in their minds, they are being taught by the Savior of the world. And there’s no greater learning than that than teaching in the Savior’s way and learning from the Savior in his spirit.
So as we conclude this episode studying the Book of Daniel, thank you, Clint, for helping us look through the lens of teaching and learning and seeking the Lord’s help in those efforts. May it be said of all of us, as it was of Daniel and Shadrach and Michael and Abednego, that these tests of faith are firmly rooted in our heart and our trust and our reliance on God is becoming more and more refined over time, even if we’re not getting the outcomes we expect, when we expect them and how we expect them. Just know that God is in his heavens and he is mighty and able and willing to deliver and save according to his purposes. And we leave that with you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Daniel 1: Daniel and certain Hebrews are trained in the court of Nebuchadnezzar—They eat plain food and drink no wine—God gives them knowledge and wisdom beyond all others.
Daniel 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is revealed to Daniel—The king saw a great image, a stone cut from the mountain without hands destroyed the image, and the stone grew and filled the whole earth—The stone is the latter-day kingdom of God.
Daniel 3: Nebuchadnezzar creates a golden image and commands all men to worship it—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refuse and are cast into the fiery furnace—They are preserved and come out unharmed.
Daniel 4: Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great tree, describing the king’s fall and madness—The king learns that the Most High rules and sets the basest of men over earthly kingdoms.
Daniel 5: Belshazzar and his revelers drink from the vessels of the temple—A hand writes upon the wall, telling of Belshazzar’s downfall—Daniel interprets the words and reproves the king for pride and idolatry—That night Babylon is conquered.
Daniel 6: Darius makes Daniel the first of his presidents—Daniel worships the Lord in defiance of a decree of Darius—He is cast into the den of lions—His faith saves him, and Darius decrees that all people are to revere the God of Daniel.
Here is the Come, Follow Me resource guide for Daniel 1-6.
Don’t forget to download the ScripturePlus app for a guided reading plan and additional resources!
Come, Follow Me Insights
Clint Mortensen joins Taylor and Tyler to discuss many ways that teachers in the Church can use the Book of Daniel as a resource to effectively teach the Gospel.
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Jasmin Rappleye explains that God’s prophecy always trumps the conventional wisdom of the Babylonian court.
Day 2: John Hilton III – Daniel 7 and the Trial of Jesus Christ
John Hilton III shares how Caiaphas tearing his clothes in the book of Matthew has a connection to Daniel 7.
Annette Tillemann-Dick tells the familiar story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Day 4: Lynne Hilton Wilson – Daniel 1: “Prophetic Statesmen”
Lynne Hilton Wilson recounts stories of Daniel and how he served under the Babylonians, the Medes, and the Persians.
Casey Griffiths teaches that dreams are often a way that God can communicate with us.
Taylor Halverson covers Daniel 4, explaining historical, cultural, and literary contexts for the chapter.
Marianna Richardson expounds on the famous story of Daniel being thrown into a den of lions.