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Lesson 4: From Furnace to Palace *

Introduction: Have you been in a crowd which is standing to praise a person? What if you did not agree that special praise was due? Did you stand anyway? Have you been in church when they asked those to stand who wanted to make a new commitment to God, and you were fine with your current commitment? If you stood because of peer pressure, or a concern about how you might look, imagine if your life depended upon standing up? For most people, sin comes to them in small decisions. It is not, as we study this week, one big, clear decision that determines life or death. Let's jump back into our story of Daniel and his friends!

  1. The Image


    1. Read Daniel 3:1. This image is about the same height as the Statue of Liberty in the harbor of New York City. What do you think inspired King Nebuchadnezzar to build this ten-story artwork? (It is the result of the dream we studied last week.)


      1. Has Nebuchadnezzar taken some artistic license with his dream? (Read Daniel 2:37-38. In the dream, only the head was made of gold. The head represented Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom. But, now the whole statue seems to represent him. No doubt the face was made to look like Nebuchadnezzar.)


        1. Aside from pride and arrogance, why would Nebuchadnezzar make this alteration? It would cost a lot less to be faithful to the dream! (To be faithful to the dream would broadcast to the world that Nebuchadnezzar's empire was temporary and his glory fleeting.)


    2. Read Daniel 3:2-3. Is this the "hot ticket" in town? Is this the dedication to which you would want to be invited to show that you are important? (If you were part of the power structure of the nation, if you are "somebody," then you want to be invited!)


  2. The Challenge


    1. Read Daniel 3:4-6. Now do you want to be invited?


      1. Read Daniel 2:46-47. How could Nebuchanezzar have gotten so off track?


        1. Do you think the other wise men might have had something to do with this? Is this a way to get back at Daniel? (If so, apparently they have forgotten that he saved their lives. However, he is now their boss. See Daniel 2:48.)


      2. What does the death threat in Daniel 3:6 tell us about the nobility's view of Nebuchadnezzar? (Something must be wrong if he has to threaten them with immediate death. Perhaps they are loyal to their gods. Perhaps the wise men are still angry about their near-death experience that this statue memorializes.)


      3. We are going to see later ( Daniel 3:12) that Daniel is not present. How could this be? Isn't he the most obvious person (other than Nebuchadnezzar) to be present? (We will discuss this in more detail later, but Daniel's absence seems very unusual. Keep in mind that one commentator suggested this event is about 18 years after the dream.)


    2. Read Daniel 3:7. Was there any problem among the people, according to this text, with worshiping the image? (No.)


    3. Read Daniel 3:8-12. Why do you think these astrologers came forward to report Daniel's three friends? (One key may be in the language "whom you have set over the affairs of the province." They are jealous about their position. Imagine the indignity of captured slaves being promoted over you! Perhaps the astrologers are anxious to preserve the dignity of their gods.)


      1. I asked earlier about Daniel. Do you think these friends were with the crowd when the command came to worship the statue? (I do not. Otherwise, it would have been instantly known that they refused. Somehow Daniel and his friends managed to avoid being in the crowd when the command came.)


      2. Why did the astrologers not mention Daniel? (We don't know. It seems unlikely to me that Daniel would have arranged a trip for himself and not his friends. My best guess is that these astrologers were afraid to challenge Daniel.)


    4. Read Daniel 3:13-14. How do you explain the change between Daniel 2:46-47 and Nebuchadnezzar's attitude now? (Pride warps a person.)


      1. From a legal point of view, what good thing do you find in these verses? (Nebuchadnezzar is affording them "due process." He does not accept the allegation as true, he confronts Daniel's friends with the allegation and allows them to answer.)


    5. Read Daniel 3:15-16. What other mercy does Nebuchadnezzar show to them? (He gives them a second chance. This makes it appear that worshiping the statue was becoming a regular practice.)


      1. Daniel's three friends have the opportunity to defend themselves, but they say they do not need to defend. Why is that? (They are simply reminding Nebuchadnezzar of what he confessed in Daniel 2:46-47. Essentially they say, "You know about our God and you know why we cannot do this.")


    6. Read Daniel 3:17-18. This is the most interesting statement in our study this week. Are they expressing a lack of faith in God when they admit He might not save them? (I love this. First, they assert that their God has the power to save them. Second, they assert that they believe that He will. But, they admit they are not in charge and they might die.)


      1. Why the admission that they might not be rescued? (Consider what just happened to their nation. They are not going to predict their God or dictate to Him. Part of their loyalty to God is to accept that He is in charge.)


    7. Read Daniel 3:19-20. Does Nebuchadnezzar have an anger management problem? Do you think he is especially angry because he knows better? (We know that Nebuchadnezzar later on manifests a serious mental illness ( Daniel 4:29-33) that is a result of his pride.)


      1. Re-read the last part of Daniel 3:15. What does this tell you about Nebuchadnezzar's pride?


    8. Read Daniel 3:21-23. If you were tossed into the fire, would you think that God decided not to save you?


    9. Read Daniel 3:24-25. Will God wait until the last minute to save you?


      1. What is your view about the fourth person in the fire? (Nebuchanezzar calls him "son of the gods." I believe that it is Jesus (before His incarnation) the Son of God.)


      2. What does this tell us about Jesus? (He might not keep us from experiencing problems, but He is with us in the fire.)


  3. Aftermath


    1. Read Daniel 3:26-27. Why does Nebuchadnezzar call them "servants of the Most High God," and why is he no longer furious?


      1. Has the decision of Daniel's three friends brought glory to God?


    2. Read Daniel 3:28-29. Notice the King admits that they defied him, yet his anger is gone and his attitude completely changed. What does this teach us about problems with our employer? (God is able to change things if we remain faithful.)


      1. Does it seem to you that Nebuchadnezzar has an extreme personality?


    3. Put yourself in the place of the astrologers who reported them. How is life going for them?


      1. What does this tell us about problems in life? (Whether we follow God or not, we will face problems. The advantage of following God is that He has authority over everything and every problem.)


    4. Friend, have you figured out which side you should take in life? Why not determine, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be faithful and bring glory to God? There will be a promotion in it!


  4. Next week: From Pride to Humility.
* Copr. 2020, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2020 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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