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Sabbath School Lessons on Daniel
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 40 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: The Fiery Furnace *
Introduction: How does temptation come to you? Is it in the big
issues or the small issues of life? Our study this week is about
three young men who were faced with the issue of worshiping a false
god or losing their life. You may be thinking, "I've never had
anything like that, and I hope I never will!" Remember, however, that
these three young men started out with the issue of their loyalty to
God when it came to diet. Is it possible that we have not faced the
big, dramatic choices because we fail in the small choices? Or, have
we lost sight of the big picture - that all issues of loyalty to God,
both large and small, are ultimately a question of life and death.
Let's dive into our study and see what we can learn about being loyal
to God under terrible pressure!
- The Image
- Read Daniel 3:1. The SDA Bible Commentary notes that this
image is about the same height as the Statue of Liberty in
New York harbor. (Not including the pedestal under the
Statue of Liberty.) What do you think inspired King
Nebuchadnezzar to commission this ten-story artwork?
(Without doubt this is the result of the dream (Daniel 2)
he had which Daniel interpreted.)
- Right away I see some artistic license being taken
with the image in the dream. How does the actual
image deviate from the image in the dream? (Daniel
2:37-38. In the dream, only the head was made of
gold. The head was the only part that represented
- If you were Nebuchadnezzar, why would you want
to make the entire image gold? Fidelity to the
dream could save you a lot of money! (Who wants
to be reminded that they (and their kingdom) are
mortal and have limited days? Of course, there
is also the matter of that pesky stone (Daniel
2:34-35) that is best forgotten.)
- Whose face do you think was on this image?
- Read Daniel 3:2-3. If you did not know any of the rest of
this story, would you want to be invited? (Everyone who
was anyone in government was invited. This was the place
to be if you were important or wanted to be considered
important. Plus, people had no doubt heard of this
amazing statue. They wanted to see it and be part of the
dedication ceremony so that they could brag to their
friends and relatives.)
- The Test
- Read Daniel 3:4-5. What do you think, did the people know
in advance that this was not an ordinary dedication
ceremony - that this was primarily a religious event?
- Read Daniel 2:46-47. How could King Nebuchadnezzar
get so badly off track?
- Read Daniel 2:49. Do you think Daniel had advance
knowledge of what the King had in mind for the
dedication ceremony? (It was Daniel who interpreted
the dream. It was Daniel who served right in the
royal court. Of course he knew this huge statue was
being built on the Dura plain. However,
Nebuchadnezzar might have thought, given the actual
dream, that it was best not to tell Daniel what he
had in mind and send Daniel off on a business trip.
It would seem out of character for Daniel to have
advance knowledge of the worship requirement, arrange
his own out-of-town trip, and not warn his three
- Read Daniel 3:6. What is the reason for the fiery furnace
part of this command? Was there a loyalty issue in the
kingdom? (Maybe Daniel and his three friends were winning
converts to the true God.)
- How do you think the "native wise men" viewed Daniel
and his three friends? (Captured slaves promoted over
you? The idea was scandalous! I am confident these
guys soon forgot that their lives were saved by
Daniel and that there was plenty of jealousy among
the "native wise men" over the power and authority of
these Jewish captives. Perhaps the natives suggested
this penalty to the King.)
- From time to time in these stories we look at the struggle
between God and Satan. Between the City of God and the
City of Satan. Between God's servants and Satan's
servants. Last week God triumphed through the
interpretation of the dream and the elevation of Daniel
and his three friends. What was the point of the dream
that Daniel interpreted? (That God was in charge - He was
the Master of the Universe and of events on earth.)
- What is the point of the image Nebuchadnezzar made
based on the dream and the worship order? (That
Nebuchadnezzar is in charge.)
- What caused things to get so badly turned around?
(Pride, arrogance, perhaps the passage of time.)
- Can this happen in your life? (We do not know
the time frame between the dream and the
building of the image. With time, we can forget
God's lessons in our life and return to trusting
- Read Daniel 3:7. Any problem with any of the visiting
governmental officials complying with the royal command?
- Any "peer-pressure" operating here?
- Where there any other Judean captives other than
Daniel and his three friends? (Certainly.)
- What are they doing? How does that affect
Daniel's three friends?
- Read Daniel 3:8-12. Who denounces Daniel's three friends?
(A contingent of the wise men - those whose boss is now
- How do they identify the three friends? (They use
their names, but they also call them "Jews" and
mention their authority.)
- Is the complaint limited to their failure to worship
the golden image? (No. These wise men see that the
real issue is loyalty to God.)
- Given the aspects of the complaint that we have just
discussed, what do you think is behind the complaint?
(This is evidence of what we discussed earlier: these
wise men do not like being under the authority of
foreigners who worship another God. This is an
opportunity to get rid of these Hebrew pretenders and
weaken Daniel without directly attacking him.)
- Read Daniel 3:13. Would you say that King Nebuchadnezzar
has an anger management problem?
- Read Daniel 3:14-15. Nebuchadnezzar does not just take the
word of the astrologers. He calls the three friends in to
make sure of the facts and give them a second chance. Why
does this angry king take the time with them?
- What does Nebuchadnezzar believe is the real issue
here? (The last phrase of verse 15 reveals the true
issue: your God cannot save you from me. It is, as
always, a question of loyal to the Great God of
- Read Daniel 3:16. Why not? If this were me I would review
the entire history of the dream, the saving of the wise
men, the interpretation of the dream, the confession that
Nebuchadnezzar made about the true God ( Daniel 2:47) and
then dramatically end with the statement, "If it were not
for our God, the one you acknowledged, you would not even
have this great image and we would not be here!" Were
Daniel's three friends just a little deficient in their
lawyering skills? Had the blazing fire put them off their
game? (No. Their point is simple, without being
insulting: "King, you know better. You know about us and
our loyalty to only one God, the great I AM.")
- Read Daniel 3:17-18. Let's follow this argument. Our God
can save us, our God will save us, but in case He doesn't,
we will still be loyal." Why say that your God will save
you and then say, "Well, maybe not?" (Part of the loyalty
of the three friends, part of your loyalty to God, is to
recognize that God does His own thinking. He is in
charge, not you. It is about Him, not about you. You know
what He can do. You know what you would like Him to do.
But, your loyalty is required whatever He actually decides
- Read Daniel 3:19. Nebuchadnezzar's attitude towards them
changed. What does this say about his knowledge of their
God? (This shows that Nebuchadnezzar truly knew about
them. If they were just three wise men that he did not
really know, he would not have had any "attitude" towards
them. His favorable attitude turns to new heights of
- Why did Nebuchadnezzar become furious? (People do not
like to be reminded about their sins.)
- The Rescue
- Read Daniel 3:20-23. What they feared happened. They were
actually thrown into the fiery furnace. How do you feel
now, if you are one of the three friends?
- Read Daniel 3:24-27. Why does God wait until disaster
strikes to act?
- We wish that God did not wait to intervene until
disaster strikes, but what lesson is there in the
fact that there were four men in the furnace, and one
looked "like a son of the gods?" (God demonstrates
that He is with those who are faithful even in the
most terrifying of tests. God did not prevent them
from being thrown into the fire, but He was with them
in the fire and He prevented them from being harmed
by the fire.)
- Read Daniel 3:28-30. "No other god can save in this way."
In the global battle between God and Satan, who now has
the obvious upper hand?
- How does it turn out professionally for the three
- Friend, you and I need this kind of trust and loyalty.
Even if God did not save them, Daniel's three friends
determined to be loyal. God did save them, in a dramatic
way, and both the Great God of Heaven and the three
friends were exalted because of it. Will you determine to
be loyal to God, even in small matters?
- Next week: Nebuchadnezzar's Judgment.
* Copr. 2004, 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.