Obj Lesson: He changes Times and Seasons - [He brings changes [opportunities] in my life to help me grow in Him.]
Visualize the entire scene: the great gilted statue, the plain with all the officials of the kingdom, the great orchestra, the burning furnace, the King on a throne overlooking it all.
Nebuchadnezer had dreamed that he was the golden head of a mighty statue, but that the statue itself was in a precarious situation. Anxious for his kingdom, fearful of disloyalty, he decided to strengthen the kingdom with a unifying festival centered on a great oblisk of himself. "Nebuchadnezer was re-asserting himself in a new burst of energetic social planning, carried out with fresh urgency, idealism and conviction. what he is most concerned about is to exclude all possible sources of division and disintegration." Ronald S. Wallace, The Message of Daniel (Inter-Varsity Press: Bible Speaks Today Series, 1979) p. 63
2. What specific commands did he give concerning the worship service. What kinds of instruments are named?
3. Consider the extravagant use of art and music in this festival. How does our modern world use media to squeeze us into it's molds? When should a believer draw the line in regard to entertainment; music; TV and movies?
The oblisk was of unusual dimensions, quite striking on a flat plain. Archaeologists have found what they believe was its foundation. "To help to win the enthusiasm of everybody, he laid great emphasis on the cultural aspect of the whole affair. The musical side was developed with great care....The furnace was there only to deal with a possible lunatic fringe of anti-social cranks....The festival was the thing - the solemn glorious inauguration of the cult - the music, the pilgrim excursions to the plain of Dura, the acts of devoted community celebration." Wallace, p. 64
4. Where was Daniel? As the leader of the four, do you think he was missed by the others?
It appears that all the officials in Nebuchadnezer's government were commanded to be there from the "Satraps" (princes) to the magistrates and provincial officials - both high and low - were commanded to be present. Daniel's absence is not explained, though it is clear he was not there. 5. In what various ways did Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego feel pressured? Why didn't they go along just for appearances sake? What is the difference between co-operation and compromise? When does the Bible permit us to disobey authority? (Rom 13:1-5; Acts 4:18-19; 5:29)
Not only were their lives on the line, but also the future of their people. Perhaps their actions might bring persecution or more trouble for their homeland. (Jerusalem has not yet been destroyed) However, had they given in to the pressure, God would be denyed, and perhaps by their acknowledgement of pagan idols and a system denying God, the faith of their people would crumble as well.
6. How do we know they disobeyed? How did the King hear about their disobedience? Did they deny or justify their actions?
They were not strident in resisting the King's command. But their resistence stood out like a sore thumb. Apparently jealous officials, perhaps with something to gain with their fall from the King's good graces betrayed them both by name and religion. The charges made against them were not entirely correct for they acted not out of lack of respect for the King or disloyalty, but on the basis of their covenant with God.
7. What two striking assertions did they make before the King concerning their obedience to God? What did they mean in saying - we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. (vss 16-18) Were their statements presumptive and foolhardly?
Chapter 1 has set the stage for this courageous stand. "Faithful and loyal behavior, sustained in a series of quiet decisions on less important matters, can come to glorious fruition in a spectacularly courageous witness to God in the hour of more severe and open trial."
Their stand is not contingent on what God will do. They are committed to the Lord and not just what He will do for them - ready to obey the Lord whatever the cost!
8. The King in his fury ordered what excessive steps to be taken in their immediate execution? What were the consequences for his guards?
The Christian can expect the fury of the world to increase to excessive dimensions when it is resisted by and stood up to. The Lord teaches us to expect persecution and not to be dismayed or surprized at the violent reactions that Christ provokes from the unbelieving world. The King's impetuous orders only enhanced what God did. "How easily God can turn man's best efforts against Him into efforts that really work for Him." Leon Wood, Daniel (Zondervan: Bible Study Commentary Series, 1975) , p. 52.
9. What happened to the three? Who was the fourth person the King saw in the furnace?
10. What was the King's reaction? (Vss 24-26)
"Nebuchadnezer suddenly had to make the choice of allowing himself to become either humbled or offended by the truth as he faced it. In the end we know he allowed himself to be humbled. He ceased to resist the truth. He accepted the deadly wound it inflicted on his pride and self-confidence, and surrendered....He could have allowed himself to have been offended rather than humbled. He could have closed his mind, hardened his heart and confirmed himself in his proud resistence. The violence of his anger is proof of the intense and critical nature of the struggle he went through as he came to his decision." Wallace, p. 70
11. What evidence was lacking that they had been in the furnace after they had come out? (Vs 27)
Inspected by everyone present and not even a singed hair or the smell of smoke. What tales were carried to every corner of the land of Babylon. The King's edict was backed up by the eyewitness accounts of the officials. In a similar manner, Christ's resurrection and the proclaimation of the Gospel was backed up by the testimonies of many who witnessed those events.
12. What did Nebuchadnezer decree concerning their God? In what way was this decree still an insufficient declaration of faith in the Lord?
13. The stand they took was costly, but in standing firm what were their rewards?
This is the last we see of these three faithful young men! Daniel only gives us some of their experiences. There certainly were many more that God has not recorded, as they served Him faithfully in the province of Babylon.