1217 L07-A Bold Faith

A Bold Faith

January 14 • Bible Study Guide 7

Bible Background • DANIEL 3
Printed Text • DANIEL 3:19–23, 26–28 | Devotional Reading • ROMANS 12:9–21

Aim for Change

By the end of this lesson we will: EXPLORE the connection between the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and their deliverance from the fiery furnace; VALUE their faith commitment; and IDENTIFY situations that call for faith during persecution.

In Focus

Just two years ago, Danielle’s father came to visit her for the weekend. When he returned home on Monday, he went to the doctor and was told that he had cancer. That same day, Danielle’s entire department was laid off and she found herself without a job. If that wasn’t enough, the house she was supposed to close on the following Friday fell through as well.
It seemed as if Danielle was going through a Job experience where all she had to depend on was faith in God. Because her father was sick and she was no longer employed, flying back and forth to take care of him quickly depleted her savings. She was barely able to pay for her living expenses.
One day, an acquaintance approached her and said she knew Danielle was going through a rough time and how she might have a possible solution to her money problems. She explained that she received checks from different people, and if Danielle would deposit them into her account and cash them, her friend would give her a portion of each one.
She showed Danielle a check for $5,700. This whole arrangement seemed suspicious to Danielle and more than likely illegal. Even though it took her a moment to get the words out, she refused. Although she was struggling financially and didn’t have a place to live, Danielle believed God would provide, so she remained faithful.
Today’s lesson is about standing firm in convictions. Describe a time when you had to stand firm in your convictions in the midst of a situation filled with pressure.

Keep in Mind

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God” 
(from Daniel 3:28).

Words You Should Know

A. Visage (Daniel 3:19) ’anaf (Aram.)—Face.
B. Worship (v. 28) segid (Aram.)—Pay honor, do homage.

Teacher Preparation
Unifying Principle—No Matter the Cost. Sometimes people are challenged to endure great trials and tribulations because of their convictions. How can they face such challenges and remain faithful? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego boldly disobeyed the king’s command, faced life-threatening consequences and were delivered from a fiery furnace by the power of God.
A. Pray for your students to have courage during trials.
B. Read Daniel 1–3 in at least two translations to understand the full context of the passage.
C. Note possible discussion topics as you are studying and preparing for your lesson.

O—Open the Lesson
A. Pray for lesson clarity, participation, and open dialogue.
B. Introduce the lesson title.
C. Have participants read the Aim for Change and Keep in Mind verse together, and discuss.
D. Read the In Focus story to the class.

P—Present the Scriptures
A. Have participants read the Focal Verses silently.
B. Use The People, Places, and Times and Background sections to clarify the verses.
C. Pay close attention to the In Depth section as it may shape the Explore the Meaning discussions.

E—Explore the Meaning
A. Depending on the class size, break into groups and complete Discuss the Meaning. Have students select a representative to report their responses.
B. Bring the entire class back together and begin a discussion using the Lesson in Our Society section.

N—Next Steps for Application
A. Have students consider the Make It Happen exercise independently.
B. Summarize key points of the lesson.
C. Close with prayer.

Worship Guide

For the Superintendent or Teacher
Theme: A Bold Faith
Song: “Lord, Help Me to Hold Out”
Devotional Reading: Romans 12:9–21

Daily Bible Readings

MONDAY
We Must Speak about Jesus
(Acts 4:13–22)

TUESDAY
We Must Obey God, Not People
(Acts 5:27–32)

WEDNESDAY
Prayer, Fasting, and a Bold Move
(Esther 4:5–17)

THURSDAY
All Ordered to Worship the Image
(Daniel 3:1–12)

FRIDAY
We Will Not Serve Babylonian Gods
(Daniel 3:13–18)

SATURDAY
King Astonished at Jews’ Survival
(Daniel 3:24–25)

SUNDAY
God Delivers from the Fiery Furnace
(Daniel 3:19–23, 26–28)

KJV

Daniel 3:19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated.
20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.
27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.

NLT

Daniel 3:19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual.
20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace.
21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments.
22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in.
23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire.
27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

The People, Places, and Times

Chaldean. The chronology of the Chaldeans is anything but straightforward. Initially, Chaldea referred only to a region at the head of the Persian Gulf that is south of Babylonia. During the eighth century BC, the tribes in this region were united and rose to power over Babylon. Over the course of approximately 100 years, and with the subsequent rise of Nebuchadnezzar’s father, the Chaldean’s strength continuously increased. Although the Chaldeans are presented as an opposing force to the Hebrews in the biblical text, they were held in high regard among many foreign nations. They were known for their study habits and dedication to doing good. Eventually, Greek historians began to use the term “Chaldean” to refer to Babylonian priests and wise men, which is how it became synonymous for Babylonia in the Scriptures.
Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was a Chaldean king who ruled Babylonia from approximately 605 to 562 BC. His name is a plea to the son of the Babylonian deity of wisdom, Marduk, and means “O god Nabu preserve my firstborn son.” Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple, also known as the first Temple. He captured Jerusalem and exiled the people. Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned often in the Old Testament and he had many notable acts during his reign. In addition to his conquest of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar was the first Babylonian king to rule Egypt when he defeated Pharaoh Necho. He is also credited for building the Hanging Gardens (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World).
How can God use world leaders to execute His plans in dealing with sinful people?

Background

This passage is part of a significant section of Daniel that is written in Aramaic (2:4–7:28), with the remaining portions written in the usual Old Testament language of Hebrew (1:1–2:4, 8:1–12:13). The Aramaic section spans both the historical (Daniel 1–6) and visionary (7–12) parts of Daniel, making the book highly representative of the typical life of an exile or refugee, such as Daniel, who must know more than one language to survive.
Today’s section follows the rise of Daniel and his companions in the king’s court after several miraculous events (1:18–20, 2:24–49). Now, some of the Chaldeans (those from southern Babylonia, near the Persian Gulf) accuse Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego of transgressing the royal decree by not bowing down and worshiping the gold statue the king had created (3:1–12). The king follows the Chaldeans’ suggestion and prepares the fiery furnace to punish the three Jews for not obeying the decree.
How are the lives of Daniel and his friends similar to our lives as believers in the 21st century?

At-A-Glance

1. Turn Up the Heat (Daniel 3:19–21)
2. Falling in the Fire (vv. 22–23)
3. Out of the Fiery Furnace (vv. 26–28)

In Depth

1. Turn Up the Heat (Daniel 3:19–21)
In the most figurative sense of the word, Nebuchadnezzar was “heated.” Known for his emotionalism and anger, he was so upset when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to the golden idol that his facial expression immediately changed and he made an impulsive decision to throw the young men into the furnace.
The furnace was most likely a lime furnace, which had a tall chimney on top for smoke and a window or opening on the bottom for inserting fuel. People could be thrown in at the top, which would be extra hot because of the rising air and smoke—so hot that the guards would die.
The king summoned the strongest guards to bind the three Hebrew boys, and decided the furnace should be seven times hotter. Many times, there is an expectation that faith, integrity, and truth will vindicate us, but sometimes being on the side of justice turns up the fire and increases the level of discomfort in our lives.
How should we prepare for persecution when we stand up against the injustices of the world?

2. Falling in the Fire (vv. 22–23)
The text sets up the next scene and displays the intensity of the fire by making it clear that it was perfect for human execution. The guards who threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fire were themselves killed by the intensity of the heat.
But the three Hebrew boys fell down into the furnace in the middle of the flames. This was the first miracle. They survived!
Read verses 24-25 in your Bible. The king saw something unusual. The boys were alive and walking in the furnace. But, he also saw something else. There was a fourth man walking in the flames; some commentators say that He was the preincarnate Christ, Jesus before His incarnation, and others interpret the fourth man as an angel.
Have you ever escaped a very trying situation because you stood for God?

3. Out of the Fiery Furnace (vv. 26–28)
The king calls to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and addresses them as servants of the Most High God. He tells them to come out of the furnace.
After intense persecution, the three are vindicated for their faithfulness to the God of Israel. In the presence of the entire court, including the officials that condemned them, the king acknowledges what is apparent—the Hebrew men sustained the fire unharmed. They didn’t even smell like smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar blesses the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
This entire account is known as the “fiery furnace” in the Christian tradition. It serves as an example of unwavering faith and God’s saving power. What encouragement to obey God rather than man!
How do you explain to others that God’s presence has been manifested in your life?

 

Search the Scriptures
1. What was Nebuchadnezzar’s response to the Hebres boys’ refusal (Daniel 3:19)?
2. To whom did Nebuchadnezzar give honor for delivering the Hebrew boys, and why was this so significant (v. 28)?

Discuss the Meaning
Considering the situation of the three Hebrew boys, does it require more faith to trust in a miracle, or to do what is right without a miracle guaranteed? How does it feel to know that God will sometimes allow us to face the fire?

Lesson in Our Society
Today’s lesson is about faith in action and conviction. In many cases, we are called to stand firm in our convictions when we face external pressure from society. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders who joined him in nonviolent protest also faced the same challenge. They had to stand strong even when hosed, attacked by dogs, and beaten with billy clubs. They knew they were standing up for right and that God would deliver them one way or another. Many paid the ultimate price for freedom with their lives.

Make It Happen
Idolatry does not present itself today as a sixty-cubit gold statue, but many false gods seek priority in our lives.
• List things that appear as “must dos” and “must haves.”
• Based on how you spend your time and money, what is your main focus?
• Do you need to make changes to ensure you are faithful to God?
Follow the Spirit
What God wants me to do:
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
Remember Your Thoughts
Special insights I have learned:
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________
______________________________________

More Light on the Text

Daniel 3:19–23, 26–28
19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
The king had been informed that the three Jews whom he appointed to the administration of Babylon had not bowed down and worshiped the king’s statue (2:48–49, 3:12). The king called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and gave them one more chance to bow down to the statue and worship his idol (v. 15). They refused, telling the king that their God will save them from the furnace (v. 17).
The king was so enraged that he ordered the furnace be heated to seven times its usual temperature. Words for heat prevail in this section, not only regarding the furnace, though this is the most frequent reference. The word for the king’s anger is also the Aramaic word for heat (Aram. khema’, khe-MAH, poison, heat, wrath). The king is so angry his face is heated with wrath and he makes the heat seven times hotter. The king has his strongest warriors bind the Jews and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
This expression “burning fiery furnace” is repeated eight times in this passage, intensifying the heat of the furnace with two words for fire. In English, such an expression would be called redundant, but in Aramaic the repetition of two synonyms—yeqad (yeh-KOD, burning) and nur (NOOR, fiery)—intensifies their effect. The punishment could not be any worse. As a result, the Jews’ faith could not be any stronger, nor God’s salvation of them any more glorious.

21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
The narrative takes care to inform us that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the furnace in all of their clothing. The purpose of mentioning the clothing here is to emphasize God’s saving power later when the men exit the furnace unscathed; not even a hair on their heads nor their garments was singed (v. 27). The narrative also repeats the binding of the men three times: when they are cast into the furnace, when the king asks if his command has been fulfilled (v. 24), and when the king sees the men in the furnace unbound 
(v. 25).

22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
The text tells us that the king’s command was “urgent.” In Aramaic, this word can also mean “harsh” (khatsaf, khat-SAF). In fact, the king’s order was so harsh, and the furnace was so hot, that the warriors who threw the Jews into the furnace were killed by the fire. This part of the event calls to mind scurrying and haste, where a master commands his servants so forcefully that they get harmed because they are so afraid that they cannot think of being cautious.
This passage is a reminder of how dangerous human power can become when an individual or group is allowed such power and is permitted to make decisions based on anger and hatred, whether related to religious faith, race, or other ways of differentiating one person or group from another. The king’s warriors are killed just getting close to the furnace, so we know how hot the furnace really is, and now the three Jews have been thrown into the burning fiery furnace.

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Despite being thrown into the furnace that killed even those who came near it, when the king calls the three Jews to come out, they do so! The king recognized that the God these Jews said would save them (vv. 16–17) is the “most high God.”
To add to the miraculous nature of the event, when the men exit the furnace, the governors and other leaders look at them and realize that they have not been harmed in the least—not a hair on their heads nor any part of their clothing has been singed. They do not even smell like the fire. It is as though a barrier protected them while they were inside the furnace. Only the most high God would be able to perform such a miracle.

28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.
Nebuchadnezzar responds to the miracle by blessing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s God, recognizing that the fourth person in the furnace (vv. 22–25) was an “angel” (Aram. mal’ak, mall-AHK, angel, messenger). The king is so changed by the event that he praises the Jews for disobeying his command! In this case, these faithful servants have been saved from death by giving up their bodies, not their faith.
Most of us may not be placed in a position of having to die for our faith. But will we live for our faith? Will we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1–2)?

Say It Correctly

Shadrach. SHAD-rak.
Meshach. MEE-shak.
Abednego. ah-BED-neh-go.
Aramaic. air-uh-MAY-ik.

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