Exiles as Missionaries – Hit the Mark

I tried to imagine the setting of our topic for this week on Exiles as Missionaries. I tried to picture Daniel, his three companies and many others being forcibly rounded up to be taken from their homeland as captives. The homes they lived in, the streets they played on, the schools they learned in, the temples they worshiped in, all now gone. Their nation was decimated by a powerful foe and the life they had known until then was now gone forever. The word monumental does not do justice to how life changing this event was.

An Isrealite man holds an lit oil lamp with both hands

Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

One could easily justify Daniel and his companions choosing a strategy to go along, to get along. No one, in an adversarial situation, wants to make waves and bring the spotlight upon themselves. Many would say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and find an excuse to deviate from prior practices and customs. But not Daniel. It was a matter of principle.

“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 of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel 1:8

Principle – that guiding sense of right conduct – was so real to Daniel that even in captivity he would be true to it. We say Amen to Daniel’s courage and adherence to his principles but we must remember he was a captive. It was one thing to purpose in his own heart but another thing for those in charge of him to accept his request.

As revealing as his inward purpose was, his outward relationship with the prince of the eunuchs was equally telling about the type of person Daniel was. And this was key to Daniel and his companions being able to effect the requested change.

“Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1:9

That could not have happened by accident, and we would miss a lot about being a missionary were we to gloss over this text. This one line of Scripture is revealing about the conduct of Daniel as a captive. Without knowing the how’s we can safely conclude that Daniel possessed social skills that were attractive rather than repulsive. Kindness begets kindness, compassion begets compassion and love begets love.

What a powerful combination of graces that Daniel possessed. His devotion to God was unshakable. His understanding of the importance of sound health was undeniable. And his people skills were unassailable. Daniel had the complete package. Egypt didn’t make Daniel; Egypt only revealed the man who Daniel was.

While we celebrate Daniel and his faithful companions, we must remember the unsung heroes of this story. Long before Daniel faced the temptations of a lifetime, he had been instructed and raised in a way that prepared him for his moment on the grand stage of life.

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. For Daniel the unsung heroes of his story must include the parents that taught their son the importance of principles over inclination. This could not have happened by chance. There had to be intentional, meaningful training given to this young lad. Social skills of kindness, care, compassion and manners are best learned in the home. God bless godly homes.

Beyond the primary impact on the life of Daniel by his parents, I would like to think that his teachers outside of his home contributed to the man that he became. We all know the role that teachers have played in the development of not only great men and women but in the lives of ordinary people who possess good morals and become contributing members of society. The value of teachers can never be fully appreciated this side of heaven.

For us, we can play a part in the life of future Daniels. We each have the opportunity to help prepare the youth of today for the roles they will play in life tomorrow. Our example of adhering to either principle or following inclinations is one that is being watched closely by young eyes.

Our encounters with others and our discussions around our dinner tables have an influence on how the youth in our spheres of influence will interact with others along the way. Will they like Daniel have learned not only guiding principles but also the kindness and love that Christ enjoins upon us all? We should purpose in our hearts that we will be the unsung heroes in the lives of the youth around us. Who knows, we may be helping to raise the next Daniel or Danielle right now.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does the word “principle” mean to you?
  • What, if any, is the difference between a principle and a belief?
  • Is it true that the healthier one eats, the better a Christian they will become? Why yes or no?
  • Is it true that as long as one loves God, they are free to indulge in harmful health practices? Explain your answer.
  • List five principles that you believe all followers of Christ must adhere to.
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The most important part of witnessing is the message and not necessarily the demeanor of the purpose giving the message. Explain your answer.

We close this week with the words of Mordecai to Esther. We usually find comfort in these words during momentous times in our lives. But they can be equally applied to our role as unsung heroes in the lives of the youth around us.

“And who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!


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An App for Missionaries Any Time, Anywhere


Have you ever been talking to a friend at school, work or play, and been asked a Bible question, but did not have the Bible answer at your fingertips? Well now you can have a prepared Bible study at your fingertips, or at least as close as your cell phone or tablet.

Now anyone can share a Bible study with anyone, any time, anywhere with the In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides App (for Android).1 style. And yes, you can also link to the web for additional studies and devotionals.

Pastor Glenn Aguirre was sharing from his pulpit a few Sabbaths ago at the New Port Richey, Florida, Seventh-day Adventist Church, that these are his favorite Bible study guides to use in his presentations.

While many people chain reference their Bibles, some do not like to mark in their Bibles for whatever reason. Now they don’t have to. Now they have a chain referenced Bible study on their In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guide App (for Android devices).

I prayerfully hope this is a blessing to you and those you meet. Be sure and share this with your friends who want to give studies or just learn more about God’s love and the Bible themselves.

Direct link to the Android app, in case some of the links above do not work: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_geekoffcall.InLightOfTheCross_release2 (An App for iPhones and iPads will follow.)

  1. Currently, only an Android app is available. An app for iPhones and iPads will follow.0

    Many churches are on a budget today and do not have a lot of money to buy Bible study guides, as they can be quite expensive. This app is free, and I have held several Bible studies where we studied the lessons from our phones or tablets so as to save costs and paper. Also, while some forget to bring their Bibles or lessons to class, hardly anyone ever forgets their phone or tablet.

    While many Bible study apps link to websites, this app actually has the Bible studies downloaded to the app. Instead of just a few reference verses for each topic, you get a verse-by-verse presentation on several Bible topics, and can choose between the KJV or NLT, as the Bible verses are provided after each question, Bible Readings for the Home [2. You can still get Bible Readings for the Home at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca

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Biblical Headship (2) in Marriage
Nicole Parker

Headship in Eden

Was Adam placed in a position of headship over Eve before the Fall, as some suggest?

I believe a biblical view of headship removes any tension in the topic. If God put Adam in a position of headship in Eden, this merely means that He placed Adam as the first string in a similar strand of relationships, taking turns seeking to serve, i.e. the “lowest place.” Adam’s influence of sacrificial servant leadership would have inspired Eve to likewise seek to serve, i.e. the lowest place.

Adam & Eve Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

Adam & Eve Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

According to a hierarchical over/under power model, Adam might have said, “Eve, I want to go play at the waterfall today, and you want to pick pears, so since I am the head, we’re going to the waterfall.” Sinless Eve would cheerfully submit. However, according to the servant-leadership model, this interchange might have looked more like, “Eve, I would love to go play at the waterfall today, but more than anything, I want to be with you. Why don’t we go pick pears, as you suggested?” Eve’s natural response would have been to seek to please Adam in return.

How would this change at the Fall? In a context of sin, conflicts between marital partners would arise that could not be solved except by one submitting to the other. In the context of pledged covenant relationship between two sinners, God decreed that, when this became necessary, the wife was to submit. The husband bore the heavier spiritual responsibility for servanthood, for he must model seeking the lowest place, guarding against abusing his authority position. Selflessness from both would result in sweet harmony, even amid disagreement.

Consider how well this matches the poignant description from Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 58:

“‘Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’ In the creation God had made her [Eve] the equal of Adam. Had they remained obedient to God—in harmony with His great law of love—they would ever have been in harmony with each other; but sin had brought discord, and now their union could be maintained and harmony preserved only by submission on the part of the one or the other. Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband. Had the principles enjoined in the law of God been cherished by the fallen race, this sentence, though growing out of the results of sin, would have proved a blessing to them; but man’s abuse of the supremacy thus given him has too often rendered the lot of woman very bitter and made her life a burden.”

The necessity of a wife submitting to her husband, according to this description, seems to have been because of the inevitability of conflict in marriage within a sin context. The command for Eve’s submission to Adam was given to make marriage (still a covenant relationship between two equals) more harmonious—a “blessing”—not to put women a notch lower than men in a hierarchy. But regardless of whether wives were under the authority of their husbands in a sinless world, or only after the Fall, in either case God’s goal is to bring about mutual transformation into His image of love through their relationship.

In summary, if biblical headship is simply the seeking of the lowest place, the place of service, it seems plausible that God may have placed Adam in servant-leader headship even before sin. If biblical headship was indeed in place already in Eden before the Fall, it seems that such headship would have meant simply that Adam was to be the next lowest fountain of selflessness after God. He would have been the human most responsible to reflect God’s love to the family in Eden. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: God designed marriage to be a relationship transforming both partners into His image of self-renouncing love —not just the woman. 1

Headship in marriage today

Imagine the practical application of this theology in marriage. A husband in a position of biblical headship is responsible to be the fountain of selflessness for his family. Rather than expecting his wife to learn to discern his every wish and immediately fulfill it (as suggested in the previous model), such a man will work to discern his wife’s wishes, and seek to serve her selflessly. He will exercise his authority in humble submission to the will of God in the best interests of his family, keeping his wife’s desires as a higher priority than his own. Such an approach, rather than fostering the development of rebellious feminism, actually helps prevent it.

Rather than expecting/demanding submission, such servant leadership is the surest way to inspire voluntary submission. This is the approach God uses in drawing His people to voluntary submission to Himself. Shouldn’t the Christian home follow the same principles? This beautiful cycle of husband-wife service will inspire children born to their union to also imitate this biblical pattern of ministry, each seeking to serve the others. Pause and imagine the potential influence such a Christian family could have in the world. What a paradox—the letting go of apparent power, to allow the genuine power of love—the law of the universe, of life—to bind the family together in submission to God and one another. What a revelation of the character of God to a selfish world such a home could be!

When two people are yoked together for life in covenant relationship, it makes sense that sometimes one has the final word to facilitate the process of decision-making. However, it is vital that the husband never selfishly abuses this position, lest his wife lose confidence in his unselfishness. This would place a temptation before her to crave similar power. While it is sinful for a woman to manipulate or control her husband, this is often a fruit of sinful seed sown by a husband’s ungodly abuse of power.

A truly biblical view of headship will prevent both sinful expressions, allowing a Christian family to be a type of heaven on earth.

Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on biblical headship. The first installment was Biblical Headship – the Highest Place Or the Lowest? (1)

  1. Compare Desire of Ages, p. 19, “But not alone for His earthborn children was this revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God’s wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which “angels desire to look,” and it will be their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which “seeketh not her own” has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.”
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Is the Sign of Jonah Fuzzy Math?



One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. “The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. Matthew 12:38-41 NLT

When I am on the campus of our Community Adventist school and a student walks up to me with their Bible and asks a question, it makes me feel important and needed. When a student walks up to me with their composition paper and asks for my help, it makes me feel like my passion for writing is recognized and appreciated. When a student walks up to me with their history book, it makes me feel knowledgeable and helpful. But when a 5th-grader walks up to me with their math book, it makes me feel stupid and useless! Math was never my thing. But I don’t feel alone. I know a lot of parents who have trouble helping their kids with math, and I have met a few teachers who are lost without their answer sheets. Math baffles the best of us, and the math in Matthew 12:38-41 has baffled many.

Because of a misunderstanding of the point Jesus was making here, many have lost faith in the Friday crucifixion and have tried to move it to Wednesday, so they can fit Jesus in the tomb for three full days. Others have lost faith in the Bible completely because they say the math just does not add up here. That is very sad and unfortunate because, believe it or not, Jesus’ point, and the sign He is giving, is not really about math at all.

Okay, some of you are not convinced, so let’s address the math issue first. I will do so quickly because I want to get to the point, and I am not a math teacher. There are two theories. One theory is that any part of the day counts as a whole part of the day. The same is true for years. If a king became king on December 31 and lost his throne on January 1 the record books would say he ruled 2 years, even though it wasn’t even a full year or even a full two days. So since Jesus was in the grave part of Friday, all of Sabbath, and part of Sunday, it was three days.

The second theory is that the heart of the earth is not even the grave. Remember how the Millerites thought the sanctuary that was going to be cleansed by fire in 1844 was the Earth? Turns out they had the time of the prophecy right, but the place wrong. They made an assumption that the earth was the sanctuary with no biblical confirmation of their assumption. When it says “God so loved the world” in John 3:16 it is not saying God loved the rocks and the dirt. He loved the people. So when Jesus says the son of man will be in the heart of the earth, could He have simply been talking about the people? If you take a day for a year in Bible prophecy (See Ezekiel 4:6) you have Jesus preaching in the heart of the earth for three years or three prophetic days. After all Jesus was in a tomb not the earth or ground.

I am not going to recommend which theory to believe here, because like I said, math is not my thing. I will say this. I am sure there was nothing fuzzy about Jesus’ math. He created math! I am also not going to recommend which theory to believe because the math part distracts us from the whole point Jesus was making.

In the story of Jonah you have a prophet who was more worried about his status and reputation as a prophet than he was about the salvation of souls. When his prediction of Ninevah being destroyed did not come true Jonah says,

Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” Jonah 4:3 NLT

Say what?! Jonah cared more about his status and reputation than he did about the salvation of 120,000 souls! If he wasn’t going to look good, he did not want any part of it. Sadly this is how the religious leaders in Jesus’ day thought too! This is why Jesus used the sign of Jonah. In the story of Jonah you have the wicked Ninevites humbling themselves so they could be saved, and you even have the pagan sailors praying to God when they had throw Jonah overboard. In the story of Jonah everyone humbled themselves except the prophet who should have known better and been the first to humble himself! The sign of Jonah is that while Jesus was walking the earth Samaritans and gentile kings humbly worshiped Jesus but the proud Jewish leaders were not about to humble themselves and do so. This is the point Jesus was making. Don’t let the math distract you. Don’t let your pride get in the way of accepting Jesus as your Savior, and don’t let your pride get in the way of leading others to Jesus. Pride was the downfall of Jonah and the religious rulers of Jesus’ day.

Is pride and arrogance still an issue in our church today? Are there some who are more worried about their status and reputation than the salvation of souls? Like I said before, I am no mathematician. A few times when I have had to sub for the entire day at our church school, I have problems with the math part. A 5th-grade girl brought a math problem to me one day, and I had to confess I was just as stumped as she was. Then I thought to myself, why are you telling a kid how dumb you are? Then I told myself, hey, if me looking stupid made the little girl feel better about herself for not understanding, then I did my job! Sometimes we can help people by humbling ourselves and not looking so high and mighty.

Unlike Jonah and the rulers of Jesus’ day, Jesus had no pride. Jonah would rather the whole world perish than for him to look like a fool. On the other hand, Jesus chose to look like a fool on the cross rather than let the world perish. Are you more like Jonah or more like Jesus?

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Friday – Inside Story: A Gift From the River – Part 1

Bangladesh ~ By Doneshor Tripura

Doneshor was glad to be home, watching his father’s water buffalo. He had been away at school and had just completed his high school graduation exams. The day grew hotter, and Doneshor decided to go for a swim in the nearby river while the buffalo grazed nearby.

People at Prayer – Hindu

Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

He waded into the cool water, looking for a place that was deep enough to swim. It was the dry season, and the river was much shallower than usual.

Doneshor stood in the waist-deep water and looked upstream. He saw something floating in the water. It wasn’t unusual to find debris in the river, so he wasn’t sure why this object caught his eye. He waited as it bobbed closer to him, then he reached down and picked it out of the water. It was a Bible. He had never seen a Bible before, but instinctively he knew that this was a holy book. He waded ashore and carefully laid the wet book in the sun to dry. As a few pages dried, he turned to a wet page and allowed the sun’s hot rays to dry them.

Doneshor came from a religious family. Every day they worshiped their gods, laying gifts of rice and incense on the altar in their home. Doneshor’s parents had taught him to respect all things holy, and that included the book he had found in the river.

The book wasn’t yet dry when evening came, so Doneshor took it home. The next morning he carried it back to the field and laid it open in the sun. After three days the Bible was dry enough for him to read it. Curious, he turned to the first pages and began reading,In the beginning God created. . . .

Doneshor was fascinated by the account of Creation and the first man and woman. He remembered reading about the first humans in the Gita, the Hindu holy book. An idea struck him, and he began comparing the Gita with the Bible.

One day he read the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples, and contrasted that to his own prayers. I have done nothing but ask and ask, wanting something for myself or my family. Now I understand that Christians pray for others.

As Doneshor continued reading, he discovered a God who searches out and invites people to accept his gift of salvation. This God is patient, and He loves to forgive. Doneshor thought how his entire lifetime had been an effort to earn the favor of the gods by giving them expensive gifts and by making long and tiring pilgrimages to appease them.

To be continued

Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
Find more mission stories at www.adventistmission.org

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Friday: Further Study

Multitudes will be called to a wider ministry. The whole world is opening to the gospel. . . . From every quarter of this world of ours comes the cry of sin-stricken hearts for a knowledge of the God of love. . . . It rests with us who have received the knowledge, with our children to whom we may impart it, to answer their cry.

Faithfulness Ruth joseph

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

To every household and every school, to every parent, teacher, and child upon whom has shone the light of the gospel, comes at this crisis the question put to Esther the queen at that momentous crisis in Israel’s history, Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?—Ellen G. White, The Adventist Home, pages. 484, 485.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the prophecies in the book of Daniel, especially Daniel 2Daniel 7, and Daniel 8. In what ways are these such a powerful testimony, not only to the prophetic reliability of the Bible but to God’s foreknowledge of the future? For instance, notice how, among these three chapters, three of the four main kingdoms are named for us. How should this help us learn to trust in the Word of God and His promises to us?
  2. In these accounts in the book of Daniel and some of the other stories (such as Joseph), there were some miracles that, of course, greatly added to the credibility of their witness to the pagans around them. At the same time, too, what aspects of their character lend even more credibility to their witness? That is, in what way can character and faithfulness, even more than signs and wonders, be a more powerful witness to others about the reality of God and what He can do in our lives?
  3. As we saw in Wednesday’s study, Matthew 24:14 says that the gospel needs to go to the ends of the earth, and then the end will come. Does this mean that Jesus will not come back until we do the work that He has called us to do? Discuss.
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Thursday: More Exiles as Missionaries

Daniel was an Israelite in involuntary banishment from Israel, as were Joseph and Moses in Egypt, Nehemiah in Babylon, and Esther in Persia. Their lives reveal that it is possible to live faithfully to God in spiritually and culturally unsupportive environments.

Joseph and Potiphar

Image © Kim Justinen from GoodSalt.com

With God’s direction it was even possible to attain prominent administrative positions in these alien settings.

Each lived a creative and rich life, skillfully negotiating complex religious, social, political, and economic dynamics far different from those of their home culture. They not only were loyal members of exiled Hebrew communities—they were also in their own ways effective missionaries for the God of Israel.

Witness while in exile included both passive presence and active proclamation.

Esther Daniel
1. Did not identify as a Hebrew until called to reveal it 1. Identified as a Hebrew
2. Kept her religion to herself until called to reveal it 2. Made known his religious convictions
3. God protected her and her family 3. God protected him and his friends
4. Witnessed in high places to save her life along with her people’s 4. Witnessed in high places to save his life along with other people’s
5. Helped establish religious freedom and the right to self-defense of a religious minority 5. Indirectly influenced King Cyrus to allow exiled Hebrews to rebuild the Jerusalem temple

Read through Genesis 41. In what ways was Joseph able to witness to the Egyptians? How does his story parallel that of Daniel and his companions in Babylon?

In what situations in which you find yourself can you witness for your faith? Are you giving a passive or active witness, or both? What are things you can either say or do that would make a more powerful impression on others about the goodness and love of our God?

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HopeSS: Exiles as Missionaries

You can view an in-depth discussion of “Exiles as Missionaries” in the Hope Sabbath School class led by Pastor Derek Morris. (Adobe Flash Player version.) A Youtube version of this week’s lesson at Hope Sabbath School is below. You can download the video, the MP3 audio, and the lesson outline from the HopeTV Sabbath School Site. You might also want to bookmark the HopeSS Youtube channel.

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Wednesday: Daniel and God’s Eternal Kingdom

Daniel was not merely an interpreter of other men’s dreams, significant as that was in this context. In Daniel 7-12, he had his own visions, which revealed the future of great world superpowers. Daniel’s visions especially emphasized that, despite earthly rulers and their plans and machinations, God retains final control of nations. In the end, He and His final kingdom will triumph, and that triumph will be complete (see Daniel 2:44).

Grab for Power

Image © Review & Herald Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Read Daniel 7:13-14. What is being described in these texts, and how does it relate to the idea of Christians taking the gospel to the world?

Whatever else those verses are talking about, the central issue is the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom, which doesn’t come until after the return of Jesus. And what factor did Jesus Himself say was important in regard to His return?

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:14-16 NIV).

Jesus’ prophecies of the end of the world in Matthew 24 are linked to Daniel’s prophecies. The abomination of desolation predicted by Daniel (Daniel 11:31; Daniel 12:11) was further explained and applied by Jesus to His own day and beyond. The point is that Jesus closely linked the book of Daniel to the end times, which, of course, isn’t surprising, because Daniel in many places does indeed point to the end times (Daniel 8:17, Daniel 8:19; Daniel 11:35; Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:13). And, according to Jesus, the end doesn’t come until this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world (Matthew 24:14, NKJV).

The gospel is to be preached unto all the world, and only then will Jesus return. And we are the ones called to preach it. Some then argue that Jesus can’t return until we do our work. How are we to understand our role in the timing of Jesus’ return? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.

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Tuesday: Daniel in Persia

And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? (Dan. 6:20). The king called Daniel the servant of the living God. What is implied in those words?

Daniel in the Lion's Den

Image © Kim Justinen from GoodSalt.com

In Daniel 6, with the change of empire and king, Daniel still kept his position and was even promoted, becoming one of three presidents to whom 120 satraps were to report. King Darius even considered appointing him vizier over his whole kingdom, arousing the antipathy of the other presidents and satraps. They induced the king to make an empire-wide decree that really was aimed at Daniel alone. He was thrown into a den of lions, but God dramatically intervened in a situation that even the sympathetic king could not reverse. Daniel’s deliverance so pleased the king that he issued an empire-wide royal decree exalting the God of Daniel.

Then King Darius wrote to all nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions (Dan. 6:25-27 NIV).

Read Daniel 6. What in the chapter indicates that Daniel had already been a great witness to the king? Also, what in the king’s decree indicates that he knew more about Daniel’s God than he could have learned merely from the dramatic rescue? What does this tell us about Daniel’s witness to him?

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Exiles as Missionaries – Discussion Starters
Joyce Griffith

[Discussion starters for Lesson 5, July 25—31, 2015]

1. A handbook for missionary activity. Have you ever wished for a, comprehensive handbook for church activity? During my missionary years I could always obtain good advice, but if only I’d had a systematic presentation of all the things I should know…  How could the book of Daniel help the new missionary? What kinds of opposition did Daniel confront that are common to new missionaries? How did he deal with them?

A light in a dark place

A light in a dark place

2. The exile. Imagine Daniel being marched by force from Jerusalem to Babylon. As he marched along, what do you think Daniel was thinking? In what way(s) was Daniel a representative of God to the heathen nations where he was led? Why was Daniel able to be known and highly respected by his captors? How does his treatment compare with the way Joseph was treated in Egypt hundreds of years before that? Do we face a similar challenge today–to be loyal to the One who created heaven and earth? What would have been a logical compromise for Daniel to follow at that time? Do we ever look for compromises or opportunities to look the other way in our life in the world today?

3. Using his talents. Just as with Joseph, God revealed to Daniel the secret message of the king’s dreams. Why didn’t the king benefit from his information? What got in the way of him accepting the prophecy of the downfall of Babylon? Did he know–or could he have known–enough about the God of all Creation that he could have given his heart to God? Didn’t he see the advantage of such a course? If not, why not?

4. Daniel in Persia. Imagine the king being bound by his position to persecute a man he respected. What do you think that was like for King Darius? I find it amusing that it is the lions trained to take human life who follow God’s command and spare Daniel. Do you? And what are the words of the final chorus that rings out in honor of God? What makes you think Daniel witnessed one-on-one to King Darius? How would Daniel have been given that opportunity? Do we ever have opportunities to deliver a mighty witness? Or a silent but effective one?

5. Daniel’s own visions. These days we spend considerable time and effort studying and learning about Daniel’s prophecies given to him in dreams. Not until John in Revelation do we have an equivalent outpouring of visual images. What is the most important message in all of Daniel’s visions? What does Matthew contribute to an understanding of this end-time message? The prophet says that the end doesn’t come until the gospel message is preached in all the world. Does that mean that when (not if) the gospel is preached in all the world, then the end will come?

6. Other exile missionaries. From the last section of the lesson, as time permits, consider this and discuss: In what situations do we find ourselves where we can be a witness of our faith? Can either a passive or an active witness be effective? What are things we can say or do that would make a powerful impression on others about the goodness and love of our God?


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Monday: Witnesses (Daniel 2-5)

In Daniel 2, Daniel had an opportunity, born out of necessity, to witness to the power of the true God, as opposed to the false ones of Babylon. After singing a hymn of praise with his Jewish compatriots and thanking God for answering their prayers (Dan. 2:20-23), he interpreted the king’s dream and testified to God’s greatness and dominion over all earthly kingdoms.

Belshazzar's Feast

Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

What does the king say that shows he learned something about the true God? see Daniel 2:47.

In Daniel 2, Daniel didn’t have a choice: either give the king what he wanted or face death. In contrast, in Daniel 3 his three friends could have spared themselves the fiery furnace if they simply had obeyed the king’s command. Instead, by their faithful witness, they were able to testify to the power of the true God.

How did Nebuchadnezzar know that the form of the fourth was like the Son of God? He had heard of the Son of God from the Hebrew captives that were in his kingdom. They had brought the knowledge of the living God who ruleth all things.—Ellen G. White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 3, 1892.

In Daniel 4, what confession did King Nebuchadnezzar again make regarding the true God, all thanks to the witness of Daniel? see Daniel 4:37.

In Daniel 5, we have Daniel’s last appearance at the Babylonian court, where he is called upon to explain the extraordinary writing upon the wall of Belshazzar’s palace, foretelling the overthrow of the Babylonian Empire at the hands of the Medes and Persians. Though no doubt Belshazzar had been impressed by what Daniel did, it was too late: the king’s fate was all but sealed. The sad thing is that according to the Bible (sx), Belshazzar had had opportunity to learn truth and to be humbled by it. As we know, he didn’t take advantage of those opportunities.

How important that we look at our own lives and ask ourselves: What kind of witness does my life represent to the world? What does your answer tell you?

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Sunday: The Exile

Read Isaiah 39:5-7 and Daniel 1:1-2. How are these verses related?

Daniel, whose name means God is my judge, was force-marched from a defeated Jerusalem into the Babylonian capital. The book of Daniel gives glimpses of his life in the courts of Babylon and Persia.

Daniel and His Friends - the Kings's Food

Image © Review & Herald Publishing from GoodSalt.com

After three years of education in Babylon, Daniel was employed as a civil servant and royal advisor. Through the power of God, he rose above normal captive status to become a highly placed missionary to two superpowers.

The book of Daniel is more than a treasure of prophetic literature. The reader encounters some of the challenges facing Hebrews living in an alien culture that provided no apparent support for their loyalty to the God of Israel and, at times, was openly hostile. It also paints a beautiful picture of men who learned to live out their commitment to truth in the absence of the temple, the priesthood, and sacrifices.

Read Daniel 1:8-13; Daniel 5:12; Daniel 6:4; Daniel 9:3-19. What do these texts tell us about Daniel’s character that made him the great missionary he was?

Every institution that bears the name of Seventh-day Adventist is to be to the world as was Joseph in Egypt, and as were Daniel and his fellows in Babylon. In the providence of God these men were taken captive, that they might carry to heathen nations the knowledge of the true God. They were to be representatives of God in our world. They were to make no compromise with the idolatrous nations with which they were brought in contact, but were to stand loyal to their faith, bearing as a special honor the name of worshipers of the God who created the heavens and the earth.—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 153.

Think how easy it would have been for Daniel to have compromised, especially given his circumstances. What does his example teach us about how lame our excuses for compromise often really are?

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Sabbath: Exiles as Missionaries

Read for This Week’s Study: Daniel 1-12; Isa. 39:5-7; Dan. 2:44; Matt. 24:14-15Genesis 41.

Memory Text: He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:14 NIV).SS2015-3-5

As a people of prophecy, Seventh-day Adventists believe in the soon coming of Jesus Christ. His coming will end this world as we know it and ultimately will usher in God’s everlasting kingdom, depicted in the book of Daniel this way: The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him (Dan. 7:27, NKJV). This kingdom is the culmination of our faith; it is what the book of Hebrews (Heb. 11:16) called the better country, the one that all God’s people through the ages have trusted will come, the one whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10).

But the book of Daniel is also a kind of handbook for missionary activity. From it we can draw lessons on how the Lord was able to use some of His people to witness to those who were steeped in spiritual and theological ignorance. Through their faithfulness and diligence and unwavering faith, these believers revealed the reality of the living God to those who knew only false ones and gave these pagans a chance at a place in this everlasting kingdom, as well.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 1.

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Friday: Inside Story – Twice Victorious: Part 2

The Villanueva teens joined the Pathfinder Club. The club scheduled an outing to Mount Kitanglad, hoping to earn their mountain-climbing honor.

James Villanueva, 16, eagerly started the six-hour trek up the mountain with his sisters and 12 other Pathfinders. Soon he found himself ahead of the rest and decided to wait. He stepped onto a tree stump to get a better view. Three wires, similar to those strung along the trail to guide hikers, hung above his head. He reached up and grabbed one of the wires for balance.

single cliff struggling

Image © John Baker from GoodSalt.com

When he saw his sister approaching he turned to swing off the stump. As his feet left the stump, a sharp pain flashed through his hand, and he crumpled to the ground.

James’ sister Nathalie saw him jump. She saw sparks shoot out from his hands as he fell. She raced to where he lay motionless. His hands and arms were so badly burned that the skin was peeling off.

Someone get help! she shouted. James has been electrocuted!

While someone ran for help, Nathalie tore off her shirt to make bandages for her brother’s arms. Toto, the Pathfinder leader, raced up the slippery mountainside. He ordered some Pathfinders to climb to the summit and call for help. He sent the rest down the mountain to summon an ambulance. Toto and Nathalie remained with James, praying that help would come in time.

Three men who worked at the summit came upon the accident scene.. The men rigged a stretcher from a sleeping bag and began the dangerous trip down the slippery mountain.

It was dark when they reached the bottom. They placed James in an oxcart to carry him the two and a half miles to where an ambulance waited. James arrived at the hospital 12 hours after the accident.

Nathalie stayed with her brother until their parents arrived. The doctors wanted permission to amputate both of James’s arms, but Nathalie refused. When her parents arrived, she begged them to have James airlifted to Manila, where he could receive better care. But even there the doctors said that James’s left arm was too badly burned to be saved.

Through the difficult months following the accident, the family could have lost their faith. But prayers and support of the church members helped to hold their faith intact.

James is already planning to go back and conquer Mount Kitanglad to earn his mountain-climbing honor. But in the eyes of many, he has already conquered more than a mountain.

Nathalie Villanueva is the daughter of Napoleon and Lolita Villanueva and sister of James.

Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.
Find more mission stories at www.adventistmission.org

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Friday: Further Study – The Jonah Saga

The book of Jonah is so significant for understanding the biblical basis of mission, because it treats God’s mandate to His people regarding the Gentile peoples and thus serves as the preparatory step to the missionary mandate of the New Testament.

Wars and Rumors of War

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

But it is also important for catching a glimpse of the deep resistance this mandate encounters from the very servant Yahweh has chosen to discharge His worldwide work.—Johannes Verkuyl, Contemporary Missiology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1978), p. 96.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In the history of Nineveh there is a lesson which you should study carefully. . . . You must know your duty to your fellow beings who are ignorant and defiled and who need your help.Ellen G. White, The Southern Work, p. 80. What is our duty to these fellow beings?
  2. Assyria was one of the superpowers dominating the ancient near east from about 885 to 625 B.C. Israel and Judah suffered repeatedly under her harsh rule. Israel’s King Jehu was forced to pay tribute to the dominating Assyrian ruler, Shalmaneser III. Israel finally fell to Assyrian forces about 722 B.C. No wonder Jonah was reluctant to go to Nineveh, one of the four chief cities of Assyria, and the center for the worship of Ishtar, goddess of love and war. God had called him to visit the very spiritual heartland of enemy territory to call on the warlike Assyrians to repent. What lessons are here for us in regard to missions?
  3. How can the remnant church avoid the assumption that the counsels and blessings of the Lord in areas such as the Sabbath, health, and education are given to them for their own benefit, rather than for the benefit of the nations? Read Rev. 3:17-18.
  4. In what ways do the three angels’ messages of Rev. 14:6-12 reflect the message that Jonah had for the Ninevites?
  5. Some people automatically reject the Jonah story, particularly the part where he is in the belly of the fish. What presuppositions would cause them to reject it out of hand? What presuppositions do you need in order to believe it?
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