Today’s Scripture Focus: Daniel 3:15-30
Daniel was a part of the small band of Jerusalem’s “elite” that was carried off after battle to Babylon by the young, new, and powerful king Nebuchadnezzar in 606 BC. Daniel was active until the third year of the Persion King Cyrus, when he would likely have been about 100 years old. Therefore, Daniel has a unique perspective of the entire Babylonian Exile. The first half of Daniel’s book tells stories relating to Daniel and his companions’ time in Babylon. Daniel soon rises to prominence due to his ability to interpret dreams and visions. The second half contains the visions of Daniel.
King Nebuchadnezzar plays a big role in today’s scripture focus. The Bible mentions Nebuchadnezzar by name over 90 times. He was Babylon’s most prominent and powerful king, reigning from 605 to 562 BC. His successes as a general in the Babylonian army prepared him to ascend the throne at his father’s death. He continued to expand the empire over his long reign, pushing its boundaries to modern-day Turkey and Egypt. Such conquests brought great wealth to the city of Babylon and provided for major building projects such as the famed Hanging Gardens. He was a worshiper of Marduck, the patron god of Babylon, as well as other gods.
One of Nebuchadnezzar’s building projects was a golden statue in the plains. At 90 feet tall, if it were build in the United States today it would be the second largest statue in the country, surpassed only by the Statue of Liberty. This statue was likely a representation of Nabu, for whom Nebuchadnezzar was named. The king commanded the top seven layers of leadership in the nation to come to the dedication of the statue. This should have been a simple civic ceremony, but in the fervor of the occasion, all in attendance are required to bow and worship the statue, and thereby worship Nebuchadnezzar himself.
Attending the event was ok for the young Jews who had risen to prominence in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, but worshipping anyone but God was forbidden to them. Therefore, they took a courageous stand, literally, and refused to bow. A furnace nearby—perhaps the one used to forge the golden image—was heated with seven bellows instead of the normal one, rendering it an inferno. In a rage, the king commands the young Jews to be thrown into the furnace. Imagine the shock of the king when he saw not only the three young men unharmed, but a fourth standing with them! A national event intended to honor a man-made god ended up proving to the king and all his court the power of Jehovah!
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask the discussion questions below*. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
* Have you ever had to take a tough stand for something you knew was right, even though you were in the minority? Did you feel like you were “in the fire”? How has God shown you that you weren’t left alone in the tough times?
* As Christians, how do we draw the line in being good citizens and obeying the laws of the land, but not following ungodly laws or supporting immoral policies?
* Did you have any questions about the scriptures you read this week?
- How can we pray for you this week?