LESSON 1 - Opportunity, Apostasy, Exile

As a background for studying the book of Daniel, this lesson reviews God's glorious purpose for Israel as His chosen people in Old Testament times, the situation that made the Babylonian exile necessary, and God's purpose in it. Attention is also given to His choice of Daniel to be Heaven's ambassador at the court of Babylon, and to be the recipient of timely messages for His people upon their return from exile and during future generations. Understanding what the visions and the words of Gabriel meant to Daniel and his contemporaries, we may discern in them a new vividness and beauty, and thus be better prepared to gather from them their deep lessons for ourselves today.

Part 1: A Glorious opportunity

This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. (Isa 43:21)
At Mount Sinai God invited Israel as a nation to enter into a special covenant relationship with Him. They accepted Him as their sovereign ruler and promised ot be His people and to cooperate with His purposes for them.
To what unique privilege and favored role did God call Israel of old? Ex. 19:3_8; Deut. 7:6.
"From a race of slaves the Israelites had been exalted above all peoples to be the peculiar treasure of the King of kings. God had separated them from the world, that He might commit to them a sacred trust. He had made them the depositaries of His law, and He purposed, through them, to preserve among men the knowledge of Himself. Thus the light of heaven was to shine out to a world enshrouded in darkness, and a voice was to be heard appealing to all peoples to turn from their idolatry to serve the living God. If the Israelites would be true to their trust, they would become a power in the world. God would be their defense, and He would exalt them above all other nations. His light and truth would be revealed through them, and they would stand forth under His wise and holy rule as an example of the superiority of His worship over every form of idolatry." _ Patriarchs and Prophets, p.314
". . . . they entered into a solemn covenant with God, pledging themselves to accept Him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of His authority." _ Patriarchs and Prophets, p.303
What unique blessings did God promise Israel through the covenant relationship? Deut. 28:2-13; Deut. 7:6, 9, 11-15
"God desired to make of His people Israel a praise and a glory. Every spiritual advantage was given them. God withheld from them nothing favorable to the formation of character that would make them representatives of Himself.
"Their obedience to the law of God would make them marvels of prosperity before the nations of the world. He who could give them wisdom and skill in all cunning work would continue to be their teacher, and would ennoble and elevate them through obedience to His laws. If obedient, they would be preserved from the diseases that afflicted other nations, and would be blessed with vigor of intellect. The glory of God, His majesty and power, were to be revealed in all their prosperity. They were to be a kingdom of priests and princes. God furnished them with every facility for becoming the greatest nation on the earth." _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 288
Key Thought
In what way is God's purpose for modern Israel similar to His purpose for ancient Israel?

Part 2: conditional Blessings

A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: (Deu 11:27)
As with all of God's promises and warnings, the covenant blessings were conditional upon Israel's cooperation. Again and again we find the word "if" attached to the promised blessings. "It should be remembered that the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional." _Evangelism, page 695.
What conditions did God attach to the covenant privilege and blessings? What did He expect in return? Deut. 28:1,2,13,14; Jer. 18:7-10
Many Christians today try to claim the promises of God without first fulfilling the conditions. The consequence is that we have professed followers of Christ who are preparing to claim the crown, but will not bear the cross. God has never changed. He still will not acknowledge those as His, whose lives bring glory to Satan and declare that there is no power in God to keep us from sin. Victory over the world, the flesh and the devil makes a declaration to the universe that we are on God's side and makes it possible for God to demonstrate His power in blessing our lives.
Having poured out His blessings upon His people, what did God expect from them? Gen. 22:18; Deut. 28:10.
"God brought the Israelites from Egypt, that He might establish them in the land of Canaan, a pure, holy, and happy people. In the accomplishment of this object He subjected them to a course of discipline, both for their own good and for the good of their posterity. Had they been willing to deny appetite, in obedience to His wise restrictions, feebleness and disease would have been unknown among them. Their descendants would have possessed both physical and mental strength. They would have had clear perceptions of truth and duty, keen discrimination, and sound judgment. But their unwillingness to submit to the restrictions and requirements of God, prevented them, to a great extent, from reaching the high standard which He desired them to attain, and from receiving the blessings which He was ready to bestow upon them." _ Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 378
That which God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He will finally accomplish through His church on earth today. . . . Never has the Lord been without true representatives on this earth who have made His interests their own. These witnesses for God are numbered among the spiritual Israel, and to them will be fulfilled all the covenant promises made by Jehovah to His ancient people." _ Prophets and Kings, p. 713

Key Thought

The promises of God are still true and all who will fulfill the conditions may still claim the promised blessings.


Part 3: God's Purpose for Israel

I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers . . . . (Jer 35:15)
" . . . . if God's people followed His instruction, their land would be restored to fertility and beauty. God Himself gave them directions in regard to the culture of the soil, and they were to co-operate with Him in its restoration. Thus the whole land, under God's control, would become an object lesson of spiritual truth. As in obedience to His natural laws the earth should produce its treasures, so in obedience to His moral law the hearts of the people were to reflect the attributes of His character. Even the heathen would recognize the superiority of those who served and worshiped the living God." _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 289
What unique opportunity did Israel have for knowing and cooperating with God's infinite purpose for them as a nation? Rom. 3:1, 2
"To this people were committed the oracles of God. They were hedged about by the precepts of His law, the everlasting principles of truth, justice, and purity. Obedience to these principles was to be their protection, for it would save them from destroying themselves by sinful practices. And as the tower in the vineyard, God placed in the midst of the land His holy temple.
Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide. In the tabernacle and the temple His glory dwelt in the holy shekinah above the mercy seat. In their behalf He constantly manifested the riches of His love and patience." _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 287-8
By what parable did Isaiah illustrate Israel's favored role in Old Testament times? Isa. 5:1,2; 27:6
This was the fruit that God desired from His people. In the purity of their characters, in the holiness of their lives, in their mercy and loving-kindness and compassion, they were to show that "the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Ps. 19:7. Through the Jewish nation it was God's purpose to impart rich blessings to all peoples. Through Israel the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to the whole world. The nations of the world, through following corrupt practices, had lost the knowledge of God. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them opportunity for becoming acquainted with Him through His church. . . . " _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 285-6
Key Thought
Every Christian or Christian institution will follow Israel in failing God, unless they remain constantly aware of

Part 4: A dismal failure

For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. (Isa 5:7)
"The warning was not heeded by the Jewish people. They forgot God, and lost sight of their high privilege as His representatives. The blessings they had received brought no blessing to the world. All their advantages were appropriated for their own glorification. They robbed God of the service He required of them, and they robbed their fellow men of religious guidance and a holy example. Like the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, they followed out every imagination of their evil hearts. Thus they made sacred things appear a farce, saying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these" (Jer. 7:4), while at the same time they were misrepresenting God's character, dishonoring His name, and polluting His sanctuary.
The husbandmen who had been placed in charge of the Lord's vineyard were untrue to their trust. The priests and teachers were not faithful instructors of the people. They did not keep before them the goodness and mercy of God and His claim to their love and service. These husbandmen sought their own glory. They desired to appropriate the fruits of the vineyard. It was their study to attract attention and homage to themselves." _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 291-2
How did Israel's failure to obey God affect God's purpose for them? Ezek. 22:23-31
Instead of the mature fruit of character God sought from His people, they brought forth the same corrupt fruit as the nations about them. Occasional efforts at reform proved to be feeble and transitory, and as the centuries passed the nation lapsed ever deeper into the darkness of apostasy.
"But the Israelites fixed their hopes upon worldly greatness. From the time of their entrance to the land of Canaan, they departed from the commandments of God, and followed the ways of the heathen. It was in vain that God sent them warning by His prophets. In vain they suffered the chastisement of heathen oppression. Every reformation was followed by deeper apostasy." _ Desire of Ages, p. 28
What was the ultimate result of Israel's continued apostasy? 2 Chr 36:15-17)
Again and again God warned His people tht the result of continued disobedience woud be exile from their homeland. These warnings were fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar overturned the kingdom of Juday and carried the Jews captive to Babylon.

Key Thought
Should any institution on earth feel that God will continue to bless them, no matter how far they go in rebellion?

Part 5: Banished to Babylon

Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: (Deu 29:24-25)
The Hebrew people had inherited the Land of Promise by virtue of their covenant with God, but they came to think of it as theirs by right. As a last resort, and to impress them with the lesson that the covenant privileges and blessings, including the Land of Promise, were theirs only by virtue of the covenant relationship, God removed them from the land for a time.
"God removed his protecting care and support, and the Israelites were no longer able to contend with their enemies. Soon they were brought into subjection to the very nations whom through God they might have subdued." {ST, June 2, 1881 par. 6}
What was God's purpose for Israel in the Babylonian exile? Deut. 30:1-3; Jer. 30:11.
"The remnant of Judah were to go into captivity, to learn through adversity the lessons they had refused to learn under circumstances more favorable." -Prophets and Kings, p. 453.
"Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through their honor and exaltation. . . . But because of their unfaithfulness, God's purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation." -The Desire of Ages, p. 28.
What did the future hold in store for Israel if they learned the lesson the exile was designed to teach? Jer. 32:37-42. See also Deut. 30:4-10; Zech. 10:6.
God purposed, after seventy years of exile, to restore His people to the Land of Promise, to renew His covenant, and to carry out His original plan for them. All that had been promised might yet come to pass if they learned the lesson that bitter experience was designed to teach.
"This promise of blessing should have met fulfillment in large measure during the centuries following the return of the Israelites from the lands of their captivity. It was God's design that the whole earth be prepared for the first advent of Christ, even as today the way is preparing for His second coming."-Prophets and Kings, pages 703, 704.
Key Thought
Though God must chasten and punish His people, His purpose in every adversity is always their good.

Part 6: God's Man for the Hour

Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. (Dan 1:4)
"The greatest want of the world is the want of men-- men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.
But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence. A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature--the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man." _ Education, p. 57
What character and personality traits that qualified Daniel to be God's ambassador at the court of Babylon impressed his captors and won their confidence? Dan. 5:11,14; 6:3, 4.
"Only by faithfulness in the little things can the soul be trained to act with fidelity under larger responsibilities. God brought Daniel and his fellows into connection with the great men of Babylon, that these heathen men might become acquainted with the principles of true religion. In the midst of a nation of idolaters, Daniel was to represent the character of God. How did he become fitted for a position of so great trust and honor? It was his faithfulness in the little things that gave complexion to his whole life. He honored God in the smallest duties, and the Lord co-operated with him. . . . .
As God called Daniel to witness for Him in Babylon, so He calls us to be His witnesses in the world today. . . . " _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 356-7
What were Daniel's qualifications for being entrusted with a revelation of God's purpose for His people after the exile? Dan. 1:17. See also Dan. 6:7-10; 9:2, 17-19, 23.
In addition to the basic character traits already mentioned, Daniel evidently had a thorough knowledge of God's will as revealed to His servants the prophets in times past. See Dan. 9:2, 6, 10-13. The mature philosophy of history reflected in his book characterizes him as a keen observer of God's dealings with the nations. He was wholly devoted to God's cause on earth.
Key Thought
As God called Daniel to witness for Him in Babylon, so He calls us to be His witnesses in the world today. . . . " _ Christ's Object Lessons, p. 356-7
Restoration Ministries

Restoration Ministries is dedicated to the promotion of the truths contained in the word of God. In particular to the restoration of those truths which have been cast down to the ground and trampled underfoot by the papacy, and adopted by her daughters.

Our purpose is to motivate men and women to commit themselves wholly to the task of personal preparation for the coming of the Lord, and to the taking of the final warning message to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.


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