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Daniel 3 Lead by Courage

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The Story of Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego

Lesson:   Being a servant leader sometimes means taking an unpopular stand.

Act 1:  The Statue and Order

Scene 1:  The atmosphere is set (3:1-3)

·         Neb had a large statue built (most likely of a Babylonian god, since rulers were not considered deity in the Babylonian Empire).

·         He had gathered all the most important people in his entire kingdom to come together

·         There they are, gathered together (have the kids stand up) wondering what’s going to happen next

Scene 2:  The command is given and disobeyed (4-7)

·         Neb had a herald announce that when the orchestra starts playing everyone worships the image

o   Worship & loyalty

·         The consequence is announced – cast into a furnace that could get up to 1800 degrees – they were watching it smoke and burn  as the consequence was named

o   Have you ever weighed out the consequences

§  If you do this, you will be spanked (okay, that won’t be so bad)

§  If you don’t do this, you’ll lose your video game system for a week

§  If you don’t eat your vegetables, I will throw you a bonfire – you would eat them, right?

o   Neb was definitely a serious man, too – Jer. 29:22 talks about him throwing 2 men in the fire – he was not going to back down

·         Then the orchestra played, and the sea of people bowed, well, all except Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

o   They knew it was against the 10 commandments to worship any graven image – they could only worship God

o   They didn’t doubt that they would be thrown into the furnace

o   They were prepared to die rather than disobey God – they were obedient and courageous – true servant-leaders – they would serve God for their whole lives, no matter how short their lives were about to become

o   Now don’t jump ahead in the story – you’re fast-forwarding to the end and thinking in your  mind – well, they are delivered from the fiery furnace, so of course they would not bow down – do you think there was really any clue in their mind that they would be delivered?

Scene 3:  The Accusation (8-12)

·         Apparently the crowd was so large that Neb couldn’t see that there were actually people still standing, or maybe he was bowing as well, either way, others came to tell him these 3 men were standing

·         They were bitter and jealous of these 3 Jews who had prominent positions, and wanted to see them destroyed

Scene 4:  The Confrontation (13-18)

·         Neb brings the 3 men to himself, is in disbelief that they would dare go against his orders, and gives them another chance, reminding them that not God can stand in his way or prevent him from killing them

·         S, M, & A answer by placing trust in God – to either save them or not.

o   They knew God had the ability to save them

o   They knew God did not always choose to intervene

o   Either way, the excepted death and were willing to die for their beliefs – they spoke incredibly courageous words in verse 18

§  Matt. 10:28 – don’t fear those who can only kill the body, fear God who can destroy both body and soul

Scene 5:  Neb’s anger and frustration (19-23)

·         He got really, really mad – nobody dared to cross him – so he made the consequence even harsher, although you really couldn’t get any worse than it already was – heat the furnace to the maximum

·         Neb used his strongest men to bind them and bring them and throw them in the furnace (2 openings, top & side, walk to the top on a mound or small hill).  Because of the urgency of the command these mighty men died because they did not protect themselves from the flames.

Scene 6:  The Deliverance (24-30)

·         Neb was looking through the side opening to see them burn, and he was astonished that he saw 4 men instead of 3.

·         He commands them to come out

·         The fire had done nothing to them – not even a smell to them

·         Neb gives glory to God and promotes them

What do we learn from this story?

·         S, M, & A showed their leadership by refusing to go with the crowd and instead obeying God, displaying great courage in doing so.

·         They regarding serving & obeying God as more important than their own lives.

·         How about you?

o   Is the acceptance of your friends more important than serving God?

o   Do you courageously seek to obey God’s Word or would you rather not put out the effort?

o   Do you even have a relationship with the Great and Only God of the Universe?  Is He your Lord and Savior?

So what do we do with what we’ve learned about servant-leadership from God’s Word?  That servant leaders lead by example, lead with humility, and lead with courage. 

It seems tough to live like a servant-leader in today’s world.  In Mark 10 Jesus has just gotten done talking about how it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy person to get into heaven.  When his followers marveled at who then could be saved, Jesus reminded them in verse 27 that all things are possible for God.

The same God who gives us salvation wants to see us live as His servant-leaders in this world.  It may seem impossible at times, but remember that we serve the God who can do anything.

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