Daniel - Lesson 5
DECISION IN THE PLAIN OF DURA
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can explain the circumstances about the dedication of Nebuchadnezzar's image.
- The student can tell the story of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo and their refusal to worship the image.
- The student can relate the courage of these three men to events that can happen in the life of a Christian today.
- Have a chalkboard, marker board, or PowerPoint ready. You may download PowerPoint to make overhead transparencies.
- Have copies of the worksheet ready to hand out at the beginning of the class.
- Be sure all students have Bibles and pens/pencils for all.
- Have cards ready to distribute with all the passages you want someone to read aloud during the lesson.
God demonstrated His superiority to the gods of the Babylonians when three ofHis faithful servants courageously took their stand for Him in the face of death.We need to learn from this example to be courageous in our own lives.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 10 minutes)
- Call or check the roll. Make necessary class announcements. If you like to start with songs, sing "I'm Not Ashamed to Own My Lord," "Be Still and Know,""Soldiers of Christ," or "The Battle Belongs to the Lord." Have a prayer.
- Go through the Review Quiz and let the students give the answers. All shouldcheck their papers as you go. Encourage all to be ready for the Review Quiz over today's lesson to be given next week.
- Review the objectives for today's lesson.
Learning Experiences: (about 15 minutes)
- The Setting. About 587 BC, four Jewish men held high positions in the court of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Q: Why had they been given such positions? 1: Because Daniel interpreted the King's dream and because they had all made such a good impression on the test Nebuchadnezzar gave the graduating class in Chapter 1. Q: How long have these men been in Babylon? A: About 18 years. Q: Over how much territory did Nebuchadnezzar reign? A: (Use map) From east of the Euphrates River on the east all the way to Ethiopia on the west. He was very rich. He had built the Ishtar gates and processional way and the hanging gardens. His word was law.
- The Challenge. Open your Bibles to Daniel 3 and be ready to answer some questions from it. Q: What did Nebuchadnezzar have built and what did it look like? A: An image that was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. Q: What would these dimensions suggest as to what the image looked like? A: Tall and narrow. Probably an obelisk. (Like many monuments in Egypt had been and similar to the shape of the Washington Monument of modern times.) Q: With what was theimage covered? A: Gold. Q: Where was the image built? A: In the Plain of Dura. In this open space and in the sunshine, the image, covered with gold, would be a dazzling sight for many miles.
- When the image was finished, the King held a dedication ceremony. Q: Who was invited? A: All the major government officials from the province. Read Daniel 3:5. Q: What does he tell these officials to do? A: When they hear the music, they are to fall down and worship the image. Q: What does this verse imply about the purpose of the image? A: It was in honor of the gods of Babylon. Q: What is the penalty for those who do not worship before the image? A: They will be thrown into the fiery furnace.
- Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo were present on this occasion. Q: Describe the possible responses for these three Jews. A: Maybe they could have anticipated what would happen and have stayed home. They could bow but say within themselves that they don't mean it in honor of the idol. They could get somewhere they could not be seen and not bow down. They could bow partially and hope no one notices the difference. They could stand up erect and take the consequences. This last one is the decision they made for they refused to bow down. Q: Who reported this to the king? A: Some Chaldeans (astrologers according to the NIV) who likely were among the King's officials.
- Q: What is Nebuchadnezzar's response to this report? A: The King was furious with rage and commanded that the men to be brought to him. Q: What does the King propose? A: That he will give them second chance-really pretty generous. If they do not bow down this time, they will be thrown into the furnace. "Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand."
- Read Daniel 3:16-18. Q: What is the reply from the three Jews? A: No need for another try. We won't bow down. If we are thrown into the furnace, our God can deliver us. But even if He does not, we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold. Think of how bold a statement this was.
- Q: What is the King's response to their statement? A: Heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual and these men should then be thrown into it. Q: What can we assume about the shape and purpose of the furnace from the description of it in this story? A: Has a way to adjust the temperature. Has an opening at the top where something could be thrown in because they "fell into the blazing furnace."It also had an opening on the side where the King and others could see into the furnace. So this furnace was probably a kiln where the Babylonians could have baked the clay bricks to be used in the construction of the image and for which Babylonians were famous.
- Q: As the King looks into the furnace, what does he see? A: The three men are walking around unharmed and unbound, and there is a fourth man with him. **Q:What does the King say the fourth man looks like? A: A son of the gods. Q:What are the possibilities for who the fourth person was? A: An angel. Maybe even the pre-incarnate Word who sometimes appears as "the angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament. Q: What does the king shout to the three men? A:"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, servants of the Most High God, come out!"
- So the men come out. Q: What was their condition? A: Not harmed, not even the smell of fire or their clothing burned. Q: What is the King's response? A: He says, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Mesach and Agednigo, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants. They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God?"
- Q: What did the king say in his decree to the people of all nations and languages? A: That anyone who says anything against the God of these Jews shall be cut into pieces and their houses turned into rubble, for no other God can save like this Godcan. Q: What does he then do for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Q: He promotes them to higher positions.
Application: (About 20 minutes)
- Q: What qualities does Nebuchadnezzar show that are a good example for us?
- Q: What specific situations might we be in when we need to show the courage demonstrated by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? As you give the situation, tell what the courageous Christian response should be. A: When our friends are planning to do something immoral-we should not only refuse to take part but should take a firm stand against that kind of activity. When our children want to do something we believe will lead them in the wrong direction and other parents are agreeable, we should be willing to take our stand. When something at the school where our children attend is not in harmony with what we believe is right, we should take a stand against it. If someone at church is encouraging the congregation to move in a direction we believe in unscriptural, we should humbly but firmly explain what we believe the Bible to teach. When we are with a non-Christian friend, we should have the courage to invite that person to church or a special event at church rather than being afraid.
- Q: What view of life did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo show which we should emulate? A: That we should follow the Lord's commands in this life regardless of the consequences here so He can approve us for the life hereafter.
- Be sure to record on your applications sheet any thoughts you have about how your life before God could be better as a result of this study.
- Review your notes to prepare for the Review Quiz next week.
- Read Daniel, Chapter 4.
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