This free lesson for older elementary Sunday School class focuses on Daniel’s realization (based on studying Jeremiah) that the time for Judah’s captivity is almost over.
The lesson emphasizes the importance of studying God’s word and having God-focused prayers.
Bible Story: Daniel Understands the Times
Scripture: Daniel 9
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, Marker board or poster board to illustrate a simple timeline of 70 sevens (see directions below)
Learning Goal: Students will learn that believers’ prayers should be God-focused not me-focused.
Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their understanding by participating in the review questions.
Optional: For a younger class you could use our Daniel coloring pages or these prayer coloring worksheets.
Learning Activity #1: Prayer activity: Have students share different things they ask for prayer. Take each response and talk about how praying for that request can be focused on God or focused on self. (Scripture teaches us to pray about everything. The point of this lesson is not to discourage children from praying for things for themselves it is to help them see how even a request for toys can be turned into a God-focused prayer…example: Lord, I really would like to have a new bike. Thank You for the bike I already have. I know that many boys and girls in this world do not own a bike. If it is Your will for me to have a new bike please provide. If You choose not to Lord, let me be content with the one I have.)
Test: Review Questions
Memory Verse: Daniel 9:18 “Give ear, O God, and hear, open Your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears Your Name. We do not make requests of You because we are righteous but because of Your great mercy.”
Bible Lesson: Daniel Understands the Times
Let’s turn to Daniel 9.
Daniel has been living in Babylon from about the time he was a teenager around the age of fourteen. Babylon was far from his original home. Daniel was an Israelite who lived in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the home of God’s people. God’s people sinned against God by worshiping false gods and disobeying His commands. He told them if they chose to disobey His commands He would punish them. God’s people didn’t listen to His warnings to repent and return to Him. He punished His people by allowing the Babylonians to invade their land and take them as slaves to Babylon. (Deuteronomy 28:49-52 )
As we have studied Daniel we have seen that God always does what He says He is going to do. Can you think of any examples of God doing what He said He was going to do from the lessons we have studied so far from Daniel? (Allow responses-humbled Nebuchadnezzar, Babylonian Empire was taken over by Medo-Persian Empire)
Read Daniel 9:1-2. Who is the king that is reigning in Babylon at this time? (Darius) From these verses what do you think Daniel had been doing? (Studying God’s Word) Which book of the Bible was Daniel studying? (Jeremiah) What did he discover from studying God’s Word? (The 70 years of captivity in Babylon were almost over) Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10
- The only way believers can understand how to live the one life God has given him/her is by reading His Word. How much time do you spend each day reading and studying God’s Word?
Read Daniel 9:3. When Daniel realized that it was almost time for God’s people to be set free from Babylon what did he do? (Turned to God, prayed and fasted)
Lessons from Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9:4-19):
Acknowledges God’s character: What character traits (attributes) does Daniel use as he describes God? (Great, awesome, keeps His covenant)
Confesses sin: Daniel uses the word ‘we’ including himself as he confessed sin to God. Can you think of anytime in our study from Daniel that we have seen him sin? Although none of Daniel’s sins are recorded, Daniel understood from Scripture that he was a sinner and knew that only God was righteous. (Isaiah 64:6-7, Romans 3:23)
What are the sins that Daniel confesses? (We have been wicked, rebelled, turned away from God’s commands and laws, did not listen to God’s servants)
Remembers God’s past deliverances: As a student of God’s Word, Daniel knew how God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt. The nations heard about God’s mighty power to deliver His people and His Name became famous throughout the land.
Asks God to forgive sin and act for the reputation of His Name: Daniel knew that his life purpose was not to focus on himself but to bring glory to God. His prayer focused on God’s Name and His glory.
God heard Daniel’s prayer the moment he began to pray. (Daniel 9:21-23) When believers pray God hears every prayer they pray. Psalm 4:3 Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
- Believers grow deeper in their relationship with God when they pray. As we pray we should have these elements as part of our conversation with God.
God answers Daniel’s prayer: God answers Daniel’s prayer by sending His angel Gabriel to help Daniel understand. Gabriel tells Daniel God’s plan for His people the Israelites and for His city Jerusalem. Read Daniel 9:24.
- As believers pray they can have confidence that God hears and answers prayer. (Yes, No, or wait are answers)
(Draw a time line on the board or have one already drawn on paper to help explain the 70 sevens.)
Gabriel tells Daniel God’s plan. He tells Daniel about seventy ‘sevens’. The sevens that Gabriel talks to Daniel about are years. The time line of the seventy ‘sevens’ is divided up. We see that during the first seven Jerusalem is rebuilt. Many believe this first segment of seven years began the year that Nehemiah was allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. (445 B.C). Gabriel talks about 62 ‘sevens’. Let’s read what he says what happens at the end of this segment of time in verse 26. Using the timeline of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the cutting off of the Anointed One, historians place the end of this segment 483 years later on Palm Sunday. Does anyone remember what is significant about Palm Sunday? (Jesus rode into Jerusalem and the people were praising Him as the son of David and a week later He was crucified-cut off)
The next segment of sevens has not taken place and is still future to us. We have been referring to this in the past lessons to the end times when the Antichrist rules over the land with great wickedness. Let’s read what Gabriel says about this ruler in the last ‘seven’ in verses 26-27.
Many times we can get confused and do not know what to do with hard passages of Scripture. As you continue to study and learn from God’s Word He will build upon what you do understand. His Word is true and everything will happen just as God says.
Instead of focusing on what we don’t understand fully we need to focus on what we do. From this lesson we see how Daniel understood the times according to what God’s Word said and did the one thing he knew to do with that information. He turned to God in prayer. His prayer wasn’t self-focused but God-focused. Daniel was concerned about God’s reputation and wanted God’s Name to be lifted up.
From those two lessons alone we can apply God’s Word to our own life. God placed us exactly where we are at this time of God’s history. What do we know about the times we live in and what do we know from God’s Word is going to happen in the future? How does that affect how we live our lives today? Whose reputation is the focus of our prayers? As I close in prayer let’s be still and allow God to show each of us what He is asking us to change in our life from this lesson in Daniel.
- Which king was reigning in Daniel’s life in chapter 9? (Darius)
- What did Daniel realize as he studied God’s Word? (The 70 years of captivity were almost complete)
- What Book of the Bible was Daniel studying? (Jeremiah)
- What did Daniel do when he understood the time in history in which he was living? (Turned to God, prayed)
- What are the elements of Daniel’s prayer that believers should have as they pray? (Confession of sin, acknowledging God’s character, remembering God’s past works, God-focused prayer)
- How did God answer Daniel’s prayer? (Sent Gabriel)
- What do the sevens represent? (Years)
- Which seven has not taken place yet? (The final 7)