Main Point: For our faith to be vital it has to be actively practiced. This true even if those around us are resistant to our faith. Students will learn this through the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.
Learning Game: Insider
Insider is one of my absolute favorite games because it is a completely different type of social deduction game. In Insider the entire group is working to figure out a secret word, but one person knows the word. They are trying to secretly help the group without getting caught. Insider plays four to eight players, but with some modification could work with more. It often sells for less than $20 and it can be found at online retailers.
To begin a game of Insider secret roles are dealt out. One person will be the Master, one person the Insider, and the other people the commoners. Everyone will close their eyes and the Master will use a deck of cards to determine the secret word. The Master will close their eyes and the Insider will then look at the word. Finally, the Master hides the word from view by putting the card face down on the deck and the game begins.
The group will have five minutes to ask the master yes/no questions to try and determine the word. If the time expires before the group successfully gets the word then everyone loses. However, if the group gets the word they then get to use the time it took to find the Insider. First, the group has to decide if the person who guessed the word is the Insider.
If the group says they are and they are, then the group wins. If the group says they are not, but they are then then the Insider wins. If the group says the person who guessed correctly is not the Insider and they are not then they must figure out who it is. At some point before the time runs out everyone will point to the person they think is the Insider. If the actual Insider has more fingers pointing at them, then the group wins. Otherwise, the Insider wins.
This lesson goes over the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. The students may have heard this story as young children, but it is likely they heard it without any context. Some of the following historical and cultural details should be pointed out to the students either before reading the scripture or pause while going through the story. The story takes place during the exile. Because the Jews disobeyed God for generations they were conquered and taken into exile. The Babylonians thought by making the Jews live in their land they would assimilate and after a couple of generations become like Babylonians. Jews like Daniel though maintained their faith and culture. Darius was the king, and the Satraps were like mayors and the administrators were regional governors. Daniel would have been 70-80 at this point, and he was very good at his job.
Often the lion’s den is portrayed as a pit or a cave. The lion’s den was probably not a cave, because lions do not live in caves. It was likely a man-made enclosure. The Babylonians saw the lion as a sign of strength, so it is possible they had a lion’s den. It is also possible that the lion’s den was used as a punishment for religious violations because mauling by animal would have been seen as a divine judgement. If that is true, then this became a challenge of the Babylonian gods might versus the strength of the one true God. That is why an angel comes to stop the lions.
Read the story found in Daniel 6:1-23. Throughout this lesson several of the questions have “facilitator instructions”. These are meant to be helpful tips for the person guiding the conversation. Use the following questions to start discussion:
1. In the game we played, how might have being the Insider been similar to what Daniel felt?
Facilitator Instruction: The insider is actively trying to help the group, yet the group is hostile towards the Insider. Daniel may have felt this way. He was doing his best to live a righteous life that honored God and others, yet he had others actively try to find ways to get rid of him. Like the Insider he would have had to be wise and prudent in the choices he made. The Insider might have found this difficult just like Daniel probably did.
2. Daniel lived in a culture that was hostile to his faith. Do you feel that you live in a culture that is hostile to your faith?
Facilitator Instruction: Depending on the cultural context of the community, there may be disagreement here. Christianity is still prominent in American culture, but the culture is becoming increasingly post-Christian. If a student says they do feel hostility, then invite them to share why they feel that way.
3. Despite the cultural hostility, Daniel was still faithful to God and everyone knew it. Do you think that is true of for most believers today?
Facilitator Instruction: If the flow of a conversation allows, this particular issue could be explored in more depth. The facilitator could follow up by asking the students how the way we can live our life communicates to those around us that we are faithful to God.
4. Daniel had a regular faith practice that he carried out daily. Do you? If so what is it? If not, why not?
Facilitator Instruction: It should be mentioned here that Daniel prayed three times a da facing Jerusalem. That was not a requirement by the Jewish religious law, it was a practice he took on himself. Students who answer the question affirmatively should be encouraged. The facilitator should have some example prepared to share with the students on faith practices they can do.
5. Why was it important for Daniel to have this faith practice? Why do you think he continued it even when it threatened his life?
Facilitator Instruction: if faith exist in name only then it is not much of a faith. Our faith is belief and conviction put into practice. Daniel’s faith was important so he practiced it, and it was so important that he practiced it even when it was dangerous.
6. What can we learn from the story of Daniel and the lion’s den?
Facilitator Instruction: Even in a culture, or perhaps especially in a culture, hostile towards faith we must practice it. If not we assimilate into the culture at the cost of our faith. If we are faithful, then God is faithful to us like he was to Daniel.