May 24, 2020 – Daniel 7
Lesson Date: May 24, 2020
Focal Scripture Passage: Daniel 7:1-28
AIM: To lead students to recognize that God is ultimately in charge of history, and to discuss ways this truth can help them as they face the uncertainties of daily life.
Before class: Read the notes on Daniel 7 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Draw a timeline on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask: “A year ago today, how many of you know about the COVID-19 pandemic?” (none of them).
Tell the students that sometimes the world seems out of control. We never would have dreamed a year ago that schools, businesses, and churches would be closed. We couldn’t imagine that tens of thousands of Americans would die from a microscopic virus or that millions of others would lose their jobs. No one could foresee those things.
Ask the students to name important events that occurred in the following years:
Tell the class that we can learn about history (things that happened in the past), but we don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know what tomorrow or next year will hold, nor can we control the future. We can’t control world events, but God can!
In today’s lesson we are going to see vividly demonstrated the fact that God is in control of world history and of the events that impact our lives.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Daniel.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the danger of pride).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (James 4:6).
- Four Great Kingdoms.
- Read Daniel 7:1-3.
- Direct the class’ attention to the timeline you have drawn on the board. Point out the date 553 BC.
- Tell them in that year (which was the 1st year of Belshazzar’s reign as king of Babylon) God gave Daniel the vision described in this chapter.
- Remind the class that in last week’s lesson we learned about the death of Belshazzar. God gave this vision to Daniel 14 years before the events described in chapter 5.
- Ask: “What did Daniel see in his vision?” (the sea whipped up by strong winds, and four different beasts coming up out of the sea).
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 7:4-7.
- Ask: “What did the first beast look like?” (a lion with eagles wings; the wings were plucked off and the beast stood up like a man; it was given a man’s heart).
- Ask: “What did the second beast look like?” (a bear that was raised up on one side and eating lots of flesh).
- Ask: “What did the third beast look like?” (a leopard with four wings and four heads; it was given dominion and authority to rule).
- Ask: “What did the fourth beast look like?” (very dreadful and frightening with great iron teeth; it devoured and crushed everything in its path; it had ten horns).
- Tell the students that Daniel was very troubled by this vision. He wanted to know what the four beasts represented.
- Read Daniel 7:15-17.
- Ask: “What was Daniel told that the four beasts represented?” (four kings).
- Refer to the timeline on the board and explain the following to the class:
- The first beast represented Babylon, which Belshazzar was ruling at the time Daniel received this vision (553 BC).
- The second beast represented the Medo-Persian Empire, which consumed Babylon in 539 BC. It raised itself up on one side, representing the fact that the Persians were stronger than the Medes.
- The third beast represented Greece under Alexander the Great. Alexander swiftly conquered the known world, including Persia in 331 BC (this is also described in Daniel 8). When Alexander died in 323 BC, his empire was divided among his four generals (the four heads).
- The fourth terrible and strong beast represented the Roman Empire, which devoured everything in its path and dominated the world beginning in 1st century BC (the century before Christ).
- Tell the students God had revealed this same succession of world empires 50 years earlier through Nebuchadnezzar’s dream recorded in chapter 2.
- Summarize: God controls history. He revealed to Daniel a succession of four great kingdoms that dominated the world for many centuries.
- Antichrist’s Brief Kingdom.
- Tell the class Daniel was especially interested in the fourth beast which had ten horns.
- Read Daniel 7:8 and 19-20.
- Ask: “What did Daniel see?” (a little horn came up among the ten horns, which pulled up three of the other horns by the roots; the little horn had eyes like a man and a mouth speaking great things).
- Explain that the little horn represents the Antichrist, who will rise to rule the world during the Tribulation.
- Direct the class’ attention again to the timeline on the board. Tell them the large “A” represents the Antichrist.
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 7:23-25.
- Ask: “According to verse 23, how much of the world will the fourth beast control?” (all of it).
- Explain that Antichrist’s empire will dominate the whole earth during the Tribulation.
- Ask: “According to verse 25, what will the Antichrist do?” (speak against God, persecute Christians, change the world’s laws, and have absolute rule for a limited time).
- Explain that “a time and times and the dividing of time” is three and one-half years: the last half of the seven-year Tribulation period.
- Tell the class that the Antichrist will rise to world power near the beginning of the Tribulation, but at the mid-point he will declare himself to be god and demand the absolute worship and allegiance of everyone on earth.
- Summarize: God controls history. During the future Tribulation the Antichrist will rule the world, but the length of his rule will be limited.
- Christ’s Future Kingdom.
- Tell the students God gave Daniel a vision of four great kingdoms that would rise to world domination.
- Direct the class’ attention to the timeline and tell them the following:
- Daniel was living in the first of those kingdoms.
- From Daniel’s perspective the other three kingdoms were in the future, but from our perspective they are all in the past.
- God also revealed some things about Antichrist’s kingdom
- From where we are “NOW,” Antichrist’s kingdom is still in the future.
- Next we are going to learn about Christ’s future kingdom, represented by the crown on the timeline.
- Read Daniel 7:9-14.
- Ask: “What did Daniel see in verses 9-10?” (God in all His glory and power sitting on His throne, surrounded by millions of worshipers).
- Tell the students God sat to judge and the books were opened. This sounds very much like the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
- Ask: “According to verse 11, what happened to the Antichrist?” (he was defeated and cast into the fire; see Rev. 19:20).
- Ask: “What did Daniel see in verses 13-14?” (Jesus coming in the clouds to receive His kingdom; see Rev. 19:11-16).
- Ask: “According to verse 14, how long will Christ’s kingdom last?” (forever).
- Ask a volunteer to read Daniel 7:18 and 21-22.
- Tell the class that the Antichrist will make war with the saints (Christians) until Christ intervenes.
- Ask: “According to verse 18, how long will Christians live with Christ in His kingdom?” (forever).
- Read Daniel 7:26-27.
- Tell the students that Christ will destroy Antichrist and his kingdom, after which the saints of God will enjoy living in Christ’s kingdom forever.
- Summarize: God controls history. In the future Christ will establish His eternal kingdom. Those who belong to Him will live in His kingdom forever.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Read Daniel 7:28. Ask: “How did Daniel feel about the vision God gave him of the future?” (he was very troubled). Ask: “Do events in our present day ever cause us to be worried, concerned, or troubled?” (yes). Comment that news of the coronavirus pandemic spreading across America has caused great concern.
Direct the students’ attention to the timeline on the board. Remind them that in Daniel 7 (and Daniel 2) God laid out the succession of kingdoms that would dominate the known world for the next five centuries. The kingdoms God revealed to Daniel came and went just as He promised. Those kingdoms make up the left half of the timeline.
Direct everyone’s attention to the word “NOW” on the timeline. Tell them that God also revealed some of His plans for the future, specifically the temporary rule of the Antichrist and Christ’s eternal kingdom. For us, those events (on the right half of the timeline) are in the future. Ask: “Since God perfectly fulfilled His prophecies in the past, do you think He can bring to pass His plans for the future?” (yes).
Tell the students that the title of this lesson is “God Controls History.” Ask: “Does the fact that God controls History have any impact on our lives today? If so, how?” Allow a few moments for responses (knowing that God is in control – even when the world seems out of control – gives us comfort, assurance, and strength to persevere).
Ask a volunteer to look up and read Jeremiah 29:11. Tell the students that God controls the future, and He has good plans for us! Lead a closing prayer, thanking the Lord that He holds our future in His hands.
CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Jeremiah 29:11. Tell them when they hear troubling news this week they should remember that God is in control.
Give everyone a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly for the summer quarter. Tell them in two weeks we begin a three-month study of the book of Revelation. We will learn more of God’s plans for the future.
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