Sunday, February 18, 2024

Daniel 3 & 4:1-3

The people of Judah exiled in Babylon found themselves surrounded by beliefs and values incomprehensible to their own. While Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego looked for ways to peacefully obey the commands of their God while serving the Babylonian king (Daniel 1:8-21), their exclusive faithfulness to Yahweh set them up for a confrontation with King Nebuchadnezzar.

Starting Out:
1. Think of a person, system, or belief you have confidence in. What might cause you to question that confidence?

Read Daniel 3:1-7:
2. What did the golden image represent to King Nebuchadnezzar and his people? Why would the king command his people to worship this statue?
3. Why did Nebuchadnezzar gather his officials for the dedication of the image?
4. Nebuchadnezzar decreed harsh punishment for anyone who declined to worship his image. Why was the compliance of everyone in his kingdom important to him?

Read Daniel 3:8-18:
5. What might have motivated the Chaldeans to inform the king that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had not obeyed the royal edict?
6. Why were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego called before the king instead of being executed at once?
7. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego give no justification or defense to the king when confronted about their noncompliance with the law. Is this wise?
8. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego showed extraordinary courage to speak to the king the way they did. What might have been the source of their boldness?

Read Daniel 3:19-30, 4:1-3:
9. Why was Nebuchadnezzar so angry at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s words?
10. Why did God protect Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flames? Why doesn’t God always miraculously intervene when his people are mortally threatened by persecution?
11. What is the significance of the king’s officials witnessing the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?
12. How is Nebuchadnezzar’s decree in verse 29 different from his original decree in verse 4?

Taking it Home:
13. Is it ever appropriate for you to speak defiantly to someone who challenges your faith?
14. What are some things in our culture that a Christian might feel pressure to bow to?
15. To what extent is it appropriate to expect God to deliver you from hardship?

Other Scriptures to engage with this week:
Acts 7, Job 42, Psalm 22