Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Name a person or situation that you would describe as “intimidating.” What characteristics can make something or someone intimidating?
2. Recall a time when feeling intimidated kept you from doing something you thought was right. Recall a time when feeling intimidated led you into doing something you thought was wrong.
Read Daniel 3:19-23.
1. Skim Daniel 3:1-7. What was the issue that brought Nebuchadnezzar into conflict with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Why might a pagan culture consider compliance with such a command to be “no big deal?”
2. Note the previous relationship the king had with these three men (2:49; 3:12a). How does this help explain Nebuchadnezzar’s fury and attitude change toward them (3:19)? What emotions probably fueled the king’s anger?
3. What is meant by the word “overkill?” What unnecessarily heavy-handed actions did Nebuchadnezzar take in enforcing his order (vv. 19, 20)? Why would “overkill” be an apt description of his actions?
4. Nebuchadnezzar asked three separate questions in this account. Underline them (vv.14, 15, 24). Did these questions truly seek information, or were they asked for other reasons? Explain.
Read Daniel 3:26-28.
5. In the preceding chapter, Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of a statue and was described by Daniel with a phrase we would not normally use for a human ruler (2:37). How might these events have motivated Nebuchadnezzar’s egoism in chapter 3? Note the way the king addressed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego while they were in the furnace. What indicates his change of heart?
6. The Bible is clear that miraculous events truly occurred. What is the significance of listing the people who witnessed these happenings and the sensory evidence they perceived? How is a biblical faith different from any other deeply held belief?
7. Turn back to verse 18 and underline the phrase “but even if he does not.” What is the significance of these words? Memorize this phrase and try to bring it to mind whenever you feel intimidated by danger or power.