Use this fiery furnace children’s Sunday School lesson to teach children about the need to be brave and do the right thing.
Needed: Bibles, soft balls or paper wads, a world map, drawing paper and crayons or colored pencils
Intro Game: Angels’ Protection Dodge Ball
Divide your play area in half and divide the students into two teams. Give each team an equal number of soft balls or paper wads to throw. They have to stay on their side of the play area.
The trick to this version is that each team can choose one or two players to be Angels. The Angels run in front of the balls or paper wads to protect their teammates. They can’t get out. Remind students that God sends His invisible angels to protect and help us.
The team who gets all of the opposite team’s regular members out first wins.
Ask, Can anyone think of some things that you’re afraid of?
What would you do if someone told you that you were going to get in trouble if you kept believing in God? Would you keep believing in God anyway, or would you stop believing in God so that you wouldn’t get in trouble?
What would you do if someone told you that they were going to kill you if you kept believing in God? Would you keep believing in God anyway, or would you stop believing in God so that you wouldn’t get killed?
The two kingdoms of Israel and Judah had been conquered. God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer Israel and Judah because the people of Israel and Judah had done so many bad things. They had believed in and worshipped fake gods instead of the real God, and they had done all the wrong things that God didn’t do want them to do. So, God let the Assyrians and the Babylonians conquer their kingdoms and carry the Israelite people back to Assyria and Babylon.
But even in Assyria and Babylon, some of the Israelites still loved God and did all the right things that He wanted them to do. Three of those men were named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and today, we’re going to read about the scary thing that happened to them.
(Read Daniel 3 with your students, or read the following story as a summary.)
In the kingdom of Babylon, where the Israelites from the Kingdom of Judah were living as slaves and prisoners, reigned King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar didn’t believe in or worship the real God. Instead, he made a golden statue and told everyone to worship it as their god. He said that whenever his servants blew the horns and played their musical instruments, everyone had to bow down and worship the gold statue he made.
What did King Nebuchadnezzar say people had to do when they heard the music? (Bow down and worship his gold statue.)
Are we allowed to worship anyone or anything other than God? (No.)
God’s number 1 rule is that we can only believe in and worship Him, not fake gods or statues or anything like that.
Then, King Nebuchadnezzar said that if anyone didn’t bow down and worship his gold statue when they heard the music, he would throw them into a fiery furnace. The fiery furnace was a big fireplace that got hot enough to melt metal.
What would happen to people if they didn’t worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue? (They would be thrown into a furnace and be burned up.)
The horns blew, and the music played, and everyone bowed down and worshipped King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Well, almost everyone bowed down and worshipped it. Some of the king’s servants saw that three Israelites – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – weren’t bowing down. They told the king, and King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego come before him.
The king said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you won’t worship the statue I made? When you hear the music, I order you to worship the statue. If you don’t, I’ll have you thrown into the fiery furnace. Will your God be able to rescue you then?”
Do you think Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should listen to King Nebuchadnezzar and worship his gold statue, or should they listen to God and not worship the gold statue? (They should listen to God.)
But if they don’t listen to King Nebuchadnezzar and worship his statue, they’ll be thrown into the furnace and burned up. Do you think God can save them from being burned up?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king. They said, “Our God is able to save us from your fiery furnace. But even if He chooses not to save us, we still won’t worship the statue. We will worship the real God only.”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were pretty brave, weren’t they? They said that whether God saved them from the furnace or not, they still wouldn’t break God’s rules and worship the gold statue. They wanted to do the right thing that God wanted them to do, no matter what.
King Nebuchadnezzar became so angry with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that he ordered his servants to make the fiery furnace seven times hotter than normal and to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fire.
So, the servants made the fire hotter, and King Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers grabbed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and marched them up to the furnace. They threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fire, but as they were doing so, the soldiers got burnt up themselves – the fire was so hot!
Then, King Nebuchadnezzar saw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walking around in the fiery furnace, but he also saw a fourth man in the fiery furnace with them. Who do you think that fourth man was? (God, Jesus, or an angel.)
God was in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, protecting them. Did you know that God can protect us too when scary things happen to us?
God is always with us, even if we can’t see Him, and He can protect us from anything.
King Nebuchadnezzar ran up to the opening of the furnace and yelled, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, come out!”
They came out and were completely fine. They weren’t burned at all. Their clothes and hair weren’t even burned. They didn’t even smell like fire. The king saw how God had protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and he made a rule that no one in the kingdom of Babylon was allowed to say anything bad out the God of the Israelites. Then, he promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and made them leaders over the kingdom.
Everything worked out for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego because they were brave and did the right thing that God wanted them to do. So remember, if you will be brave and always do the right things that God wants you to do, then God will be with you too, and God will be happy with you.
Game: Fiery Furnace Tag
Divide students into two teams and set a timer for 5 minutes. The first team is the Nebuchadnezzars, and the other is the Shadrach, Meshach, Abednegos. The Shadrach team chooses one member to be an Angel. The Nebuchadnezzars chase and tag the Shadrach team. Whenever a member of the Shadrach team is tagged, they stand in the out section, the Fiery Furnace.
The Nebuchadnezzars cannot tag the Angel until at least three members of the Shadrach team are in the Fiery Furnace. At the point, the Angel can run into the Fiery Furnace, freeing any team members who are there. If the Nebuchadnezzars tag the Angel before he or she gets to the Fiery Furnace, the game is over. If the Angel succeeds in freeing his or her teammates, the Nebuchadnezzars cannot tag the Angel again until three members of the Shadrach team are again in the Fiery Furnace.
When the Nebuchadnezzars win or at the end of 5 minutes, switch roles and play again.
Craft Prayer Activity: The Persecuted Church
Look up a current news story about where Christians are being persecuted. Show the location on a map and summarize the situation for the children and explain why a certain government doesn’t want the people to believe in God. Then, have students write a prayer for their fellow Christians in that situation, or draw a picture illustrating God’s protection around those persecuted Christians.
God, we thank You for protecting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We pray that You’ll protect us like that too. But even more than that, we pray that You’ll make us brave for You and give us the courage to do the right things, no matter what. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, Hope in Exile.