The book of Daniel is both narrative and prophetic. It tells the story of a few Israelites during the exile, while also providing prophetic sections about Israel’s future. All the books of prophecy fit into the narrative of the Old Testament in different places. The book of Daniel takes place during the EXILE era of the Old Testament, after Judah and Jerusalem have been conquered by the Babylonians. In fact, the book begins by telling us that Daniel was taken into a training program in Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar hoped to indoctrinate select young men with the language, customs, and culture of Babylon, then send them back among the Israelite people so as to influence the Israelites in the ways of Babylon (Daniel 1:3-7).
The narrative sections follow the life of Daniel and a few other faithful Israelites as they navigate life in Babylon. The prophetic portions tell of Daniel, empowered by the Holy Spirit, interpreting various dreams and visions. All of it helps show us that even though God’s people have been sent into exile, He has not forgotten them and is still at work among them. The story of Daniel paints a beautiful picture of an individual following the Lord in a culture that does not know God, living in faithful obedience to the principles of God in a society that has no regard for the person of God, and speaking the truth of God to those who have little interest in hearing from God. Though no human other than Jesus is perfect, we learn much from Daniel, and a few of his contemporaries, as they cling to the Lord despite living in a place that had no regard for Him.
FOR THIS WEEK'S SERMON OVER DANIEL, LISTEN BELOW:
FOR AN ADDITIONAL PODCAST OVER THIS WEEK'S MATERIAL, LISTEN BELOW:
OLD TESTAMENT VISUALIZED
UNDERSTANDING THE PROPHETS
Fellowship of Believers
Choices, choices…there are many choices placed before us in life. Some are easy and do not need much thought. Others require deliberation and possibly going against popular opinion to stay true to our principles. In such situations, it is easier to stand when others are standing beside you in agreement.
King Nebuchadnezzar makes a decree that everyone must bow before a huge golden image. Anyone refusing would be thrown into a blazing furnace. Easy choice: bow. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three young Israelites in exile, choose not to bow. They obey God’s law, “Worship the Lord and serve Him only” (Dt. 6:13). They declare God’s ability to save. “But even if He does not...we will not worship the image.” They stand for truth.
So, they are tossed in the furnace. As the crowd watches, not only are there three men walking in the fire unscatched, but there is a fourth figure looking like “a son of the gods.” Most believe that this was Jesus, Himself, walking with them. The king calls the three friends out and they are completely unharmed. Jesus promises He will never leave us. He also provides fellow believers to stand beside us for encouragement and strength.
- Why were the three friends in Babylon? Was it by choice?
- What action did the king want? Why was this wrong?
- Going against the king would have consequences. What were the consequences and what did the three friends say about God’s help?
- Why is it easier to obey if others are choosing to obey as well?
Family Drama Activity
Tape strands of orange, red, and yellow crepe paper to small fans. Turn on and tip fans toward ceiling to make fiery furnace. (If you don't have fans, you can tape crepe paper streamers to jumbo craft sticks. Have the children stand around in a circle to make the fiery furnace and wave their streamers up and down to look like flames.)
Re-enact the story, taking turns playing the three friends, the One who looked like “a son of the gods,” and the king. Tell the children to bow before your golden image or they will be thrown into the fiery furnace. The children then say, "No." Put them in the fiery furnace and have the One who looks like “a son of the gods” join them. Look in and say, "Didn't I throw three men in the furnace? I see four men!” Then tell Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come out. Then have everyone say, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!"
Family Craft Idea
Color a picture of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the One who looked like a “son of the gods” in the fiery furnace. Using water colors, blow through a straw dipped in paint to make flame shapes.
Source: Activities adapted from Danielle’s Place
Small Group Discussion
- What example is there to follow?
- Daniel’s life exudes discipline. What stands out most to you about Daniel’s prayer life?
- How can we commit to discipline like Daniel’s?