King Nebuchadnezzar seeks to unite his people in the worship of a gold statue. The event is heralded by a big band making a mighty crescendo of sound. The penalty for disobedience is to be thrown into a furnace.
Daniel’s three companions refuse to worship the statue. They decide they must make their stand against the excessive demands of the state, and they are not afraid:
If we are thrown into the burning 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 (3:17–18).
Their brave stand brings to mind the witness of Peter and the apostles when the Jewish Council tries to silence them:
We must obey God rather than any human authority (Acts 5:29).
Daniel’s friends are condemned to die in the fiery furnace, but they pass through the fire unharmed. Peering into the fierce blaze, Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth figure walking freely with them. This fourth person ‘has the appearance of a god’ (4:25). The king declares his faith in the God of the Jews, and promotes the friends to high positions in his government.
Andrew Knowles, The Bible Guide, 1st Augsburg books ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 2001), 346.
As you read through the Scripture, choose from the following questions to guide discussion in your group. Don’t feel that you need to talk about all of them.
Read Daniel 3
- If you studied this story as a kid in Sunday School what are some main points you remember? Do any of them apply to your life today?
- The outcome didn’t determine their faith. Why does life circumstance often determine the level of faith instead of faith being a constant no matter the circumstances?
- These men went into this situation as a group. In what ways does the faith of those around you help or hinder your own?
- Suppose the story read that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego died instantly in the fiery furnace. Would this outcome negatively impact your view of God’s sovereignty? Would you still view this as a great story of faith even if they died?
- Why didn’t God rescue them before they went into the furnace? They were rescued in the furnace. Is there a situation in your life you wanted God to intervene before it happened, but He allowed you to go through it anyway?
- How do you think walking in the furnace affected the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? What do you think was going through their minds as they were walking up to and being dropped in the furnace?
- Their faith impacted the whole kingdom. How can making a firm stand for your faith affect those around you?
- What stands out & speaks to you about how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego lived out their faith? What are the obstacles in your life that keep you from living out your faith like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
- Tell your most “fiery” test you have experienced & what was the outcome