The following lesson about Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego focuses on the importance of knowing and obeying God’s Word without compromise. Students will be challenged to examine their lives to see how much of their daily choices are made in obedience to God’s Word or not. It is only a suggested guide to help you get ideas on how to present this chapter to your students.
Bible Story: Focus on God, Not the Flames
Scripture: Daniel 3
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, blocks, word puzzle, pens/pencils, flannels/pictures, using index cards create situations that children may face that would require them to make a choice to stand for God-example: at lunch no one prays before they eat. What do you do?, kids on your soccer team misuse God’s name. What do you do?
Learning Goal: Students will learn that choosing to trust God in all situations requires knowing and obeying His Word.
Learning Activity #1: Building blocks (we use the cardboard ones). While students are waiting for others to arrive they can try to use building blocks trying to make them stack as high as possible.
Learning Activity #2: Word puzzle for this lesson.
Memory Verse: Daniel 3:17-18 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Bible Lesson: Focus on God not the Flames (Daniel 3)
Introduction Activity: (Use Situation cards you created before class)
Have students take turns choosing cards that have dilemmas that children their age may face. As a class discuss what choice would please God and would be obedient to what His Word teaches.
The situations we discussed are simple day to day situations that believers may face. It’s important to make obedience to God top priority in any situation. One day we might find ourselves having to choose obedience to God over our very life. If we choose to obey God in day to day situations we will be prepared to obey God even unto death.
Let’s turn in our Bibles to Daniel 3. We are going to see an example of courageously obeying God even at the threat of being put to death. (Matthew 16:24-25 “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”)
(Use pictures or flannels as you tell the story)
King Nebuchadnezzar nodded with pleasure as he admired the statue built to honor him. The statue was made of pure gold and was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. This statue would remind everyone how great Nebuchadnezzar was. Didn’t the Most High God tell His servant Daniel, that Nebuchadnezzar was the king of kings? In his dream he was the mightiest of all kingdoms and was the head of gold on the statue. (Daniel 2:36-38)
If Nebuchadnezzar built an accurate image of the statue in his dream what would it be built of? (This is an opportunity for students who were taught Daniel 2 to review the statue and what it meant.)
Nebuchadnezzar is not a true worshiper of the One True God. He worships false gods that are not gods at all. (1 Corinthians 10:20-No, the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.) He has been introduced to the Most High God through 4 Jewish young men who stood out from among all the prisoners taken from Jerusalem. In Daniel 1 he saw that Daniel and his 3 friends were 10 times better than all his ‘wise men’. In Daniel 2 the Most High God enabled Daniel to tell Nebuchadnezzar his dream and what the dream meant. Even with these introductions of the God of gods, Nebuchadnezzar had not turned away from his wickedness (sin) and put his faith in the One True God.
Nebuchadnezzar allowed the interpretation of his dream to puff up his heart with pride. This magnificent statue was to remind everyone of his power as king of Babylon.
He wanted to have a special ceremony dedicating his new statue. He invited all the leaders from the different parts of his kingdom.
As the leaders gathered around the statue they were given a command. Read Daniel 3:4-6. The instructions were very clear. When the music began everyone was to fall to their knees and bow to the statue in worship. Anyone who did not bow would be killed.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego knew God’s commands and knew that to disobey them was sin. (Exodus 20:1-4, 23) Sin displeases God and doesn’t allow others to see the greatness and power of the One True God.
(Choose three students to represent Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego and allow the other students to represent the others at the ceremony. Use a musical instrument (play a CD) and re-enact the scene. All the others are on their knees and the 3 Jewish men are standing tall.)
The characters in the Bible are real people like you and me. They have emotions and must respond to their situations just as we do. If you were at this ceremony and you had to choose to fully obey God or compromise to protect your life what do you think you would choose to do? (For a believer compromise means to adjust what you know is right to be more agreeable with others.)
An example of compromise in this situation is to pray quietly in your heart, “Lord, I am not bowing to this statue I really am going to imagine I am bowing to you.” When everyone bows you bow with this excuse to make it ok.
Another example of compromise is to bow down and tie your shoe when everyone else is bowing to worship the statue. You weren’t exactly bowing you were tying your shoe (or sandal) but it appeared to everyone else that you were bowing.
Compromising is not obedience to God. It isn’t a courageous faith. Compromise fears man and does not fully trust God. (Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.)
- Believers are not supposed to blend in with those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be salt and light in this world pointing others to Jesus. When believers blend in with those who do not believe in Jesus we don’t stand out and God’s greatness is not seen in the lives of His people. (1 Peter 1:15; 2:9)
Some of the king’s astrologers saw the three men standing instead of bowing. They went to the king and told him. Read Daniel 3:12.
Nebuchadnezzar has anger issues. (Daniel 2:12) He is furious that anyone would dare not to obey his commands! He gives the three men another chance demanding them to bow or die immediately in the fiery furnace. His pride makes him think that no one could possibly save them if they chose to disobey.
Let’s read the three men’s response in verses 16-18. Their response infuriated the king even more. He commanded that the furnace be heated 7 times hotter than before. He ordered some of his strongest soldiers to tie the men up and throw them in the fire. The soldiers obeyed the king to their own death. As they threw the 3 men into the fire the flames were so hot it killed them instantly. However, the three men passed through the same flames without any problem.
The king was watching and what he saw amazed him. He asked, “Weren’t there three men that were tied up and thrown into the fire?” The men told him that was indeed true. King Nebuchadnezzar pointed at the furnace and said, “Look! I see four men freely walking around in the fire. The fourth man looks like the son of the gods!”
What Nebuchadnezzar was seeing is what Bible scholars call the pre-incarnate Jesus. Before Jesus was born as a baby in Bethlehem He appeared to people in the Old Testament. Nebuchadnezzar saw the Son of God walking around in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego!
From the opening of the furnace Nebuchadnezzar called out, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
The three men came out of the furnace without a burn on their body. Their clothes were in perfect condition, their hair was not melted and they didn’t even smell like smoke. That boys and girls is a miracle! A miracle is something only God can do.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego chose to trust God and were kept safe. Because they knew God’s commands and obeyed Him fully, King Nebuchadnezzar saw God’s mighty power to rescue His own people. Let’s read the King’s reaction to God’s power in verses 28-29.
As we close let’s think about how this lesson applies to us. If you are a follower of Jesus do you trust Him completely? In what area of your life are you tempted to compromise what you believe? Do you know what pleases God because you read and study His Word? Are you willing to suffer for obeying God’s Word without compromise? What do you believe about the Lord Jesus that you are willing to die for? I have just asked many questions and as we close in prayer I am going to give you a few minutes to talk to God about what He challenged you with. If you have any questions or would like me to pray for you about something specific please speak to me after we pray.
Close in prayer.
- What did Nebuchadnezzar have built? (A gold statue)
- How big was this statue and what was it made of? (90 feet tall and 9 feet wide, made of gold)
- What did the king command? (At the sound of music everyone was to fall and worship the image)
- What was the punishment for anyone who chose not to worship? (Thrown into fiery furnace)
- Who did not bow down to the statue? (Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego)
- How much hotter did the king command the furnace to be? (7 times)
- Why was it a miracle that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego survived? (Only God could rescue them from the flames. The soldiers were killed so it was real fire.)
- When a believer compromises what he knows is true to please others who is he trusting? (Man)
- What can you do this week that will reveal that you are trusting fully in God and obeying His Word?
Sword Drill Verses:
- Exodus 20:23 Do not make any gods to be alongside Me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.
- Matthew 7:13-14: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
- Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
- James 2:19-You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.
- Proverbs 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.