Daniel 3:1-30; 6:1-28
Both these stories illustrate how costly it can be to serve the King of Heaven whilst also serving an earthly king, for ultimately we cannot serve two masters. In both chapters the state demands the worship due properly to God, but Daniel and his friends refuse, despite the clear threat death.
It is a right instinct that we should be wary of simply applying these stories straight to ourselves, as though we might expect similar deliverance today. But since the second half of the book of Daniel frequently warns that God’s people will face opposition and persecution and severe trial, it does seem appropriate to see these stories as deliberately included to encourage God’s suffering people.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s declaration of faith in 3:17,18 seems particularly apt therefore. We can’t be sure exactly what God will do, (and Chapters 7-12 make it clear that many saints will indeed die for the faith) but we know what God can do and that he is faithful. The faithfulness of the people of God will always be met by the faithfulness of God himself.
In both stories God’s people know his very real presence in the midst of their trial (see 3:25 and 6:22), God rescues and vindicates his people (3:30 and 6:28), and vindicates himself before his enemies (3:28,29 and 6:26,27). And can’t we hold on to those truths? – see eg.1Peter 1:5-7, 4:12-14, 5:10,11, Rom.8:35-39.
Notice also the link between ch. 2 and 3 – Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of an enormous statue with a golden head, but fatally weakened in its feet by disunity, and the statue he erects that is all gold and whose purpose seems to be in part the uniting of the peoples of his empire.
Obviously there isn’t time to read these two chapters through during the study, so you will need to get people to read it through beforehand. Therefore suggested homework before this week might be:
Read Daniel 3 and 6 through and notice the similarities between the two stories.
For the study itself, having discussed what people discovered, you could either decide to work through one particular chapter – maybe chapter 3, so that people see the progression towards Nebuchadnezzar coming to faith.
You can improve on these, but questions might be such as:
Or you could continue to explore those common themes in the two chapters. Maybe questions like: