Use this children’s Sunday School lesson about Daniel to teach children about the need to respect God.
Needed: Bibles, a scale and random items, pieces of paper with invisible messages written on them
Intro Game: How Much Does it Weigh?
Bring in a kitchen or body weight scale and make a game show out of having kids guess how much various items weigh. Choose only one student at a time to come forward and answer your questions.
Round 1. Gather a variety of items and simply have kids guess how much they weigh.
Round 2. Weigh an item and have kids guess how much lighter or heavier the next object will be.
Round 3. Set a target weight limit and have kids bring you an item they think will be as close to that as possible. If it’s more than a pound lighter or heavier, reject it.
Say, The two kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been conquered. God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer Israel and Judah because the people of Israel and Judah had done so many bad things. They had believed in and worshipped fake gods instead of the real God, and they had done all the wrong things that God didn’t do want them to do. So, God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer their kingdoms and carry the Israelite people back to Assyria and Babylon.
(Read Daniel 5:1-4 with your students.)
“King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.”
Who was King Belshazzar worshipping? (Fake gods – gods made out silver, gold, iron, bronze, wood, and stone.)
What’s wrong with worshipping those fake gods? (There is only one real God, and God’s number 1 rule is that we believe in and worship only Him.)
Why does God want us to believe in and worship only Him? (Because He’s the only real God. He’s the one who made us and can help us.)
(Read Daniel 5:5-6 with your students.)
“Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.”
What did King Belshazzar see writing on the wall? (A human hand.)
It was a hand only. There was no body, only a hand. That would be pretty scary, wouldn’t it?
(Read Daniel 5:7-24 with your students.)
“The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, ‘Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.’
“Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.
“The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. ‘May the king live forever!’ she said. ‘Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.’
“So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, ‘Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
“Then Daniel answered the king, ‘You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.
“’Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. Because of the high position He gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone He wishes.
“’But you, Belshazzar, his son, have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from His temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in His hand your life and all your ways. Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.’”
What does Daniel mean when he says that God holds King Belshazzar’s life in His hand? (God can let King Belshazzar live or He can kill him. God is in control of King Belshazzar’s life.)
God is in control of all of our lives too. We’re only alive right now because God wants us to be alive. If God didn’t want us to live anymore, we would die.
(Read Daniel 5:25-28 with your students.)
“’This is the inscription that was written: “mene, mene, tekel, parsin.”
“’Here is what these words mean:
“’Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
“’Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
“’Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.’”
What was God saying with the first word, “mene”? (That God wasn’t going let King Belshazzar be king anymore.)
What was God saying with the second word, “tekel”? (That King Belshazzar didn’t measure up.)
God wanted the king to be a certain way, but he wasn’t. God wanted the king to be good and believe in Him, but he was bad and believed in fake gods.
God measures us on His scales, too, to see if we measure up, to see if we’re how He wants us to be. We need to think about whether we’re being the people God wants us to be and doing the things that He wants us to do.
What was God saying with the third word, “parsin” or “peres”? (That God was going to give half of the kingdom of Babylon to Media and half of it to Persia.)
(Read Daniel 5:29-31 with your students.)
“Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
“That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians, was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two.”
Why did God make it so that King Belshazzar would be killed? What was the wrong thing that King Belshazzar did? (He didn’t believe in the real God and was worshipping fake gods. He was even using the goblets from God’s Temple for himself to drink out of.)
So, God let someone else come to conquer his kingdom and kill him as a punishment.
Remember, we have to believe in only God and respect Him. Then, He will be happy with us and not punish us like He punished King Belshazzar.
Game: Reading the Invisible Writing
Prepare a few pieces of paper with invisible messages written on them. Prepare them differently if you can. Divide the students into groups of two or three and hand each group one of the pieces of paper. The first group to discover how to read it wins. Then, show each group the trick to reading their piece of paper and have them share what it says.
The messages could read:
1. Mene. Mene. Tikal. Parsin.
2. God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
3. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
4. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Remind students that when God wrote these words, the writing wasn’t invisible, but the rest of His body was. The people could only see His hand.
Lord, we thank You for the warning to King Belshazzar. We pray that You’ll help us to be the people You want us to be. Help us to measure up to Your standards. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Hope in Exile.