Journey Through The Scriptures

Daniel

Lesson 2: The Fiery Furnace

(Scripture to Read: Daniel 3:1–30)

It is ironic that one of the most famous stories in the book of Daniel does not involve Daniel himself. Jewish teaching accounts for Daniel’s absence by saying the king sent him away so Daniel would not have to choose, and Nebuchadnezzar would not be forced to kill the man he revered. So Daniel’s three fellow Jews became the heroes for their refusal to disobey God—even under penalty of death. At Daniel’s request, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had also been promoted to key positions in Babylon (Daniel 2:49). But like all of Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects, they were expected to bow down to the golden image the king had made—an act of monumental ego by this great ruler who had been told he was the head of gold in his dream (Daniel 2:38).

Nebuchadnezzar was not present when the music sounded and the people were to bow down, but some of his astrologers made sure the king knew that his Jewish officials had refused the order. The king was furious to learn that these young men to whom he had given great authority had the audacity to disobey him. He quickly summoned and questioned the three men, and then ordered their execution in the fiery furnace. But everyone saw four figures standing in the fire, and the three men emerged unharmed. In a moment of sober humility, Nebuchadnezzar declared that the God of Israel be held in high honor in his court.


Study Questions

  1. Why did Nebuchadnezzar decide to build a golden image?
  2. Why were the king’s astrologers so eager to report the failure of the Jews to obey his order?
  3. What caused the king to throw the three Jewish officials into the fire?
  4. Why were there four figures in the fire?

Something to Think About

Perhaps the most exceptional thing about these men’s determination to obey and worship God alone is their attitude toward the possibility that they would, indeed, perish in the furnace. They were prepared to remain true to God “even if” He did not deliver them from the flames (Daniel 3:18). Their faith was not based on ease or comfort, a welcome reminder for us today.