The story is told that when Robert Louis Stevenson was a child, his nanny came into his nursery to put him to bed. She found the little boy looking intently out of his bedroom window. When she called to him, he continued staring into the darkness, so she went over to ask him what he found so interesting outside. As she peered over his shoulder, she saw the lamplighter walking down the street, lighting the street lamps. Little Robert responded, “Look, Nanny. I’m watching as that man puts holes in the darkness.”
Sometimes I can become discouraged when I look out into the “darkness” of the spiritual and moral decay of our great nation. But this story reminds me that while I may not be able to change the world, I can put a “hole in the darkness.”
The Prophet Daniel was a young man who lived during a time of great darkness in the nation of Judah. The Babylonians from the east swept through and destroyed everything in a series of ruthless campaigns. When the enemy king, Nebuchadnezzar, ordered the finest and the brightest Israelites to be taken captive as slaves in his palace, Daniel was seized and marched 800 miles east, never to return. But rather than despair, Daniel put holes in the darkness.
Read Daniel 1
In Times of Political Change
- Read Daniel 1:1-2 and describe the political changes that took place in Judah, where the prophet lived.
- How do you think these changes affected the average person? How did they affect Daniel?
- What political changes are taking place in our nation? How do they affect you? How do they affect the general public?
In Times of Religious Change
- How was the religion of the Babylonians different from that of the Jews? Read Jeremiah 32:29; Isaiah 21:9; and Daniel 3:12 with Deuteronomy 5:4; Exodus 20:3-6; and 2 Samuel 7:22.
- How do you think this difference could have affected Daniel’s faith?
- Describe the religious changes in our nation over the past 10 years.
- What impact have these changes had on the church in general? How have they impacted your own faith?
In Times of Personal Change
- From Daniel 1:3-7, name four or more changes that took place in Daniel’s personal life. State each change in your own words.
- Which personal change in Daniel’s life can you most identify with?
- When changes take place simultaneously in the world, in the nation, in your community, in your church, and even in your own life, how does that impact you? How do you think the changes in Daniel’s life made him feel?
- What encouragement for times of change do you find in Psalm 46? Give the phrases.
Be True to Your Convictions
Make the choice
- How did Daniel handle the changes that swirled around him? Give the words that describe the choice he made in Daniel 1:8.
- How did the prophet follow through on his choice?
- Read Daniel 1:11-17. What impact did Daniel’s example have on others?
- If Daniel had not been true to his convictions, do you think anyone back home would have known about it? What blessing would he have missed?
- What are your core convictions? When have you intentionally made the choice to live by them? How have you followed through? Who has followed your example?
- What analogy does Jesus use to describe these core convictions in Matthew 5:14-16? How does this analogy relate to Himself, and what does this mean to you? See John 9:5.
Keep the commitment
- Read Daniel 1:10. What resistance did Daniel encounter, and what was the reason for it?
- Who has resisted your choice for that same reason? Describe the circumstances.
- What were the risks Daniel took in order to overcome the resistance and keep his commitment?
- Give the phrase that reveals God was working invisibly on Daniel’s behalf. Do you think Daniel kept his commitment because he knew God was at work, or did he keep his commitment because of the choice he had made?
- Relate God’s activity on behalf of Daniel to Proverbs 21:1. How does this encourage you?
Experience the consequences
- Read Daniel 1:15-20. What were the consequences of Daniel’s choice and commitment?
- How were his friends, the chief official and the king affected by what he did?
- In the end, was he better or worse off than if he had not stayed true to his convictions?
- How do you think Daniel’s three friends were influenced by his example in Daniel 1? Describe the choice, the commitment and the consequences that they made several years later in Daniel 3:1-30.
- How are the choice, the commitment and the consequences confirmed in Psalm 1?
Don’t be discouraged because of the turmoil and decay in our changing world. Make the choice to be true to your convictions, live out your commitment to the Truth, and experience the blessing of putting a
hole in the darkness. ©2021 Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in October 2013.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online.