Summary: Nebuchadnezer decided to unify his kingdom around a great festival and the obelisk inspired by his dream, Because man's efforts to build kingdoms apart from God demand conformity, Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego were confronted with the choice of standing for God or bowing to man and paid the consequences. Nebuchadnezer con-fronted by their faith and God's spectacular deliverance was forced to acknowledge the true God.
[Teaching method: Pictures and stick puppets]
For Daniel's friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego it would come as a rude surprise that this celebration would require them to make a life or death choice and they would to choose to die.
God does not promise to always deliver us from danger or martyrdom. But He will deliver us through it. Paul prayed that: "Christ will be exalted in my body, Whether by life or by death" Phil 1:20. There are times when "standing up for Jesus" may be very costly for us! Are you ready to stand tall for Him?
The Pictures (a-d) form a mural from left to right. Place them one at a time during the first part of the story.
Visualize the entire scene: the great gilt statue, the plain with all the officials of the kingdom, the great orchestra, the burning furnace, the King on a throne overlooking it all.
Every one of his officials was summoned to attend. (b.) There was A great crowd. They Came from all far off corners of his great kingdom. They wore their best uniforms or clothing. This was an important celebration.
Any big celebration calls for music. So the King assembled A great Orchestra. (c.) They rehearsed and practiced. There would be Lots of music. World likes to make sin and idolatry look so attractive and fun. The most important music they would play would be the signal for everyone to bow down. The King would watch from his pavilion as they did.
For the King was Worried about disloyalty. He was still bothered by His dream. His kingdom could fall. He wanted to Find out who was not loyal. So he had them heat up A burning Furnace that had been used to make the great statue covered with gold. (d.)
The world comes down hard on those who do not conform. It is the same today - we are expected to wear the same clothing and listen to the same music and talk the same and do the same things. Some of these things are wrong in God's eyes.
Use imagined conversation to bring out The young men's dilemma: What to do? choices: do it, keep fingers crossed. Blend into crowd - be inconspicuous. Protest. The orchestra began to play. The King was watching. The decision must be made now! (flip b.) Everyone was bowing. They knew they could not bow without dishonoring God. And though they were loyal to their king, as God wants his people to be, they couldn't bow.
There were spies in the crowd. Jealous, watching, ready to betray. They Reported their disobedience to the king.
The king was very angry. They had spoiled his celebration. He asked them why. They didn't make excuses or try to cover up what they did. They knew Their decision was right, even if they had to die for making it. Vss. 17,18 We don't know what God will do, we just trust He will care for us.
The king's anger burned. He ordered them to the Furnace. His anger was so great he ordered it Heated hotter. they were bound. The furnace was so hot the guards died throwing them in.
But then a great miracle happened. The king could see them walking around in the fire. Isa 43:2b-3a How could this be! "I thought there were three." cried the king." Who is the fourth one! He looks like the Son of God"
Seeing them Unharmed The king had no choice but to order them released. The king made a great decree. What stories would be told in all the lands of the kingdom about God's witnesses in the fire.