This is the second children’s Bible lesson in a series from the book of Daniel. It is from chapter 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego choose to obey God and are thrown in a fiery furnace. This was written for upper elementary students. It can be simplified for preschool students and modified to be used as a Children’s Church Lesson. At the end there are additional resources that may be helpful for your individual class needs.
Bible Story: Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego in the Fiery Furnace
Scripture: Daniel 3
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 12 (U.S. 3rd – 6th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
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Learning Objectives: In this lesson, students will learn that:
- Pride is sin
- Reading and Obeying God’s Word is the only way believers can stay on the path that pleases God.
- Obedience to God allows others to see God’s power in our lives.
Memory Verse: Acts 5:29 (NIV) “We must obey God rather than men!”
Activity for Memory Verse: Make two sets of cards with the words from the verse and have them shuffled (not in order). Have two teams race to put the verse in correct order. The team that completes it first says the verse.
(Teacher preparation before class: Write out any additional Bible passages you want to include in the lesson on index cards. Before class ask the students who don’t mind reading to take the card and find the passage before the lesson starts. Using the index card as a book mark the student will be ready to read the passage when you are ready to call on him/her.)
The following lesson is written as a guide for a teacher to use. It’s important to pray and read the Scripture passage first before reading anything else. Ask the Lord to show you what it is He wants you to teach your students. As you read the Scripture passage take notes of any principles or applications you see that would be age appropriate for your class. After you have spent time in the passage then read over this lesson to see if there is anything that would enhance what you have already received from your personal study of the Scripture.
Introduction: We have talked about God’s enemy the devil. The devil is a deceiver and God has allowed him a brief time to be the prince of the power of the air. (Ephesians 2:1-3). What it means for the devil to be the prince of the power of the air is that he has power over any person who does not allow God to be their ruler. In this world there are always going to be two groups of people: believers and unbelievers. One group has people who believe in the Lord Jesus and have placed their faith in His death on the cross for their sins and that He was raised from the dead. Because they believe in Jesus they will live forever in heaven. The other group has people who do not believe in Jesus and have been blinded by the devil. Because this group doesn’t believe in Jesus they will be separated from God forever and be punished along with the devil for eternity in a place called hell.
The devil knows what is going to happen to him. His time is short and the time he has left he spends trying to get as many people to follow him as possible.
Because the devil can’t be God he does everything he can to act like Him. He deceives people and gets them to do things for him that they should be doing for the One True God.
As you read the Bible you can see how the devil tries to copy God in small ways so that he can trick people to turn to him instead of worshiping the One True God. If you can picture two highways, one of those highways is the right one to God. The other one looks like it is going in the same direction but if you follow it all the way to the end you see that it takes all the travelers off a deep cliff to be destroyed.
What does this information mean for me and you this morning? If you and I are believers in Jesus Christ and followers of Him we need to be alert with our eyes wide open to ways God’s enemy the devil may try to get us to veer off God’s Highway and drive on his. The only way we can stay on the right highway is to read the Road Map that gives us the correct driving instructions. That Road Map is the Bible, God’s Words written for every man, woman, boy and girl. In the Bible we learn what pleases God and what doesn’t. That which doesn’t please God is sin and deserves punishment. If we don’t read and study God’s Word and obey it we can easily become like someone who gets sleepy as they drive and accidentally turns onto a road that we aren’t supposed to drive on. That road will take us away from God instead of closer to Him.
Turn in your Bibles to Daniel 3. (Make sure all students have a copy of the Bible in their hands to follow along as verses are read.) This morning as we continue in the Book of Daniel we will see three men who were wide awake and recognized a dangerous curve in the road as they were living in Babylon. Would they stay on the right path or would they turn off and take the easier path? Let’s get started so we can find out
As we begin chapter three King Nebuchadnezzar is very proud of himself. He is especially proud of himself because in chapter 2 Daniel told him the meaning of his dream of a statue. Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the gold head of that statue. Daniel said, “You are the king of a great kingdom. For the God of Heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength and glory.” Daniel 2:36-38
Pride is a sin. Pride is when our focus is on ourselves. Pride makes us think we are more important that we actually are. Pride causes us to take our eyes off God and on to ourselves. God’s Word says that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. Romans 12:3
The dream about the statue went to the King’s head. Instead of thanking God and focusing his life on how he could be the king God wanted him to be, he decided to build a little statue. Well actually it wasn’t little. It was 90 feet high and 9 feet wide. To give you a rough idea of how tall this statue was you can think of a grain silo that farmers have. Some of those grain silos are almost 90 feet tall. (If your students aren’t familiar with silos have a picture of one for them to see.)
King Nebuchadnezzar must have been so proud of his statue when it was completed. It says in Daniel 3 that he sent a message for all his leaders (verse 2) to come to a special dedication ceremony of his new statue.
All of the King’s officials came and gathered together to dedicate the gold statue. As everyone was gathered a messenger for the king spoke in a loud voice and said: “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: At the sound of the musical instruments every one of you must fall to your knees and worship this golden statue. If you do not bow and worship the statue you will be burned in a fiery furnace.”
Imagine the crowd of people who just received the King’s command. It was a command and meant to be obeyed. There was a slight problem with the King’s command. His command broke one of God’s commands. Does anyone know which command that is? Exodus 20:4-5 (Have student read this verse.)
In that crowd of people on that day were 3 young men who worshiped the One, True God. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. For them the command from Nebuchadnezzar was a BIG problem. Because they knew God’s Word they could not do what the king commanded. (Have student read 2 Kings 17:35-39.)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that they were to obey their leaders but they were not to obey their leaders if their commands broke God’s commands. These men had a choice to make. Would they obey man or would they obey God? The highway that these three young men were traveling on wasn’t easy. They could die for their obedience to God. They could also take the easier highway and do what everyone else was doing and live.
The musical instruments began to play and all the people from all different nations and languages fell to their knees and worshiped the gold statue. Three men stood tall for the True God and didn’t bow their knee to a false god.
Others saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s disobedience to the Nebuchanezzar’s command and they went and told the King. When King Nebuchadnezzar heard that the 3 men didn’t obey his command he became furious with rage. He commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought to him.
King Nebuchadnezzar was focused on himself and the honor he believed was due him. He was being so prideful that he not only sinned against God in his pride, he was causing others to sin by commanding them to worship him.
When the three men were brought to him he asked them if it was true that they didn’t obey his command to worship the gold statue. He decided to give them a second chance so they could bow rather than burn. He asked them, “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” Again, the King’s pride was making him think he had more power than God Himself.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the King; “We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us and rescue us from your hand. Even if He chooses not to rescue us, we will not serve your gods or worship the statue of gold you have made.” (Verses 16-18)
King Nebuchadnezzar became enraged. I imagine his face turning beet red and if smoke could come out of his ears there would be billows of smoke steaming out of them. He was so mad that he screamed, “Turn that furnace up! Make it seven times hotter than it already is! Go get my strongest soldiers and have them tie up these disobedient men and throw them into the furnace!”
The strong soldiers came and tied Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s hands and feet. The strong soldiers picked up these three men and pushed them into the blazing hot furnace. The heat had been raised so high that the strong soldiers were instantly killed as they threw the three men into the furnace.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had made a courageous decision. They chose to obey God rather than man and now they were being thrown into a blazing hot furnace. It took courage and a strong faith in God for them to make this difficult choice.
Courage means: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
King Nebuchadnezzar must have thought about the three men’s words to him…”the God we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and He will rescue us from your hand.” Being the prideful man that he was he must have looked through the window of the furnace to see these men burned to a crisp. The soldiers died immediately as they came in contact with the flames, surely the same would happen to the three men. When King Nebuchadnezzar looked in the furnace he saw an amazing sight. The ropes that bound their hands and feet did not bind the three men any longer. They were walking freely in the blazing hot furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar asked those around him, “Didn’t we throw three men into the fire? I see four men walking around in there and one of the men looks like the son of the gods.”
The king quickly ran to the opening and called for the three men to come out. As they came out the crowd was amazed that not a thread of their clothing was melted or burned. The hair on their heads was not singed nor did they smell like smoke. Have student read Isaiah 43:1-2. These three men had obeyed God and God had kept them safe.
King Nebuchadnezzar was so amazed at what he saw that he praised Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s God. He saw that their God had sent an angel to rescue His servants. He knew they trusted their God and disobeyed his command and were willing to give up their lives rather than to worship any god but the One, True God.
The King was so amazed that he made a law that no one could say anything bad against the One, True God because no god could save in the way He had. After the king made the new law, he promoted the three men and gave them a higher position of leadership in his kingdom.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God and obeyed God rather than man. The result of their obedience was that unbelievers were able to see God’s power to rescue and deliver His own people from danger. This caused God to be glorified. Whenever someone recognizes God and His power He is glorified.
Imagine what would have happened if the three men chose to follow the crowd? Would King Nebuchadnezzar have been able to see the power of God in his life? Would God have been glorified? Would the three men have pleased God if they chose to please man rather than God? No, this would have caused them to make even more bad decisions. One bad choice takes you off the highway that pleases God and places you on the road that leads away from Him. One bad choice usually leads to more bad choices having a domino affect in your life until you are no longer doing anything that pleases God. (Skip reading your Bible and praying…sinful actions and attitudes)
(Salvation Message): In our story today an earthly king commanded that all people were to bow to his image or burn in the furnace. He had no God-given right to command that of any person. On the other hand, God who is Holy has the right to be worshiped. God doesn’t force any one of us to bow and worship Him. However, He does have a similar requirement from each one of us that He has every right to ask of us. He has sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins so we can be forgiven and made right with God. In order for any of us to have a right relationship with God and live forever in heaven, we must bow our knee to the Lord Jesus Christ. We must agree with God that we are sinful, rebellious people who do not obey His perfect laws. We must agree with Him that the only way we can ever come face to face with God is to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. That is how we bow our knee to Jesus. When we bow our knee to Jesus and call Him Lord we will not suffer eternal punishment in the place called hell. Hell is like the fiery furnace in our story. The flames never go out and the suffering and torture will go on forever and ever.
This morning I would like you to ask yourself, have you bowed your knee to the Lord Jesus? If you have not placed your faith in Jesus Christ and would like to we are always here to speak to you and pray with you about that decision. Please talk to us or to your parents about this decision.
- Why did King Nebuchadnezzar build the statue?
- Who did the King ask to come to the dedication of his statue?
- What did he command all the people to do when the musical instruments played?
- What was the punishment for disobedience to his command?
- Why did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not bow before the statue?
- How did the King react when he heard that they disobeyed?
- Why did the strong soldiers die when they threw the three men into the furnace?
- What amazed the King?
- How was God glorified when He delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
- What do you need to do this week that shows you obey God rather than people?
Optional Visual: A review game that you could play is to use a color picture of the three friends in the fiery furnace. Take pieces of construction paper and cover the picture. Each time a student correctly answers a review question they may remove a piece of paper revealing a part of the picture. Continue to do this until all papers are removed revealing the picture.
Additional Resources for this Lesson