Gathering

What “wonder of the world” (natural or human-made) have you seen up close, that took your breath away? 

 

Backstory

Three Hebrew men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) work in the royal court, along with Daniel, having proven themselves worthy. All four Jews had been among the first taken captive to Babylon after the siege of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. He set up a 90-ft-tall image of gold to symbolize his rule. All are to worship it, but the four Jews refuse. In the Book of Daniel, which serves as both history and prophecy, the events portrayed teach that the miracle-working God of the Jews is sovereign over all kingdoms. God is more powerful than all the pretend gods and images of Babylon, which are mere idols, however wondrous they might be. The Jews worship God alone.

 

God’s Story

Have one person narrate Daniel 1: 1-30, while four volunteers read the various speaking parts: the herald (vv 4-6); the astrologers/advisors (vv 9-12, 25); King Nebuchadnezzar (vv 14-15, 24, 25, 26, 28-29); the three Hebrew men (vv 16-18).  Put yourself into the pomp and circumstance, fire and fury, of this story—all with rhetorical flourishes.

 

Finding My Story in God’s Story

After standing with this massive crowd before the huge golden statue (a “wonder of the world” in its day), what would you have told your family upon returning home?

 

Describe a time when you were bullied into “liking” something to avoid repercussions. What did that threat make you want to do?

  1. Punch the person in the nose.
  2. Run for my life.
  3. Throw up.
  4. Phone a friend.
  5. Other __________.

 

Nebuchadnezzar used his absolute power and bullied others to submit–even turning up the heat. But then he suddenly changed his tune. What made the change (vv 24-30)?

  1. He was all smoke and mirrors—like the Wizard of Oz.
  2. The God of the Jewish resisters proved himself to be true.
  3. Nebuchadnezzar remained a bully—picking on others.
  4. Nebuchadnezzar was deeply humbled—never to bully again.
  5. Other __________.

 

What was the source of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s courage to resist?

  1. They had a secret stash of “liquid courage.”
  2. They were afraid but prayerfully pushed through. 
  3. Their “refined by fire” experience was no fluke, but a life-long process.
  4. The fourth being in the fire made all the difference.
  5. Other lifeline __________.

 

Who do you suppose was that fourth being?

  1. An angel, one with a fire-proof shield
  2. A real-life superhero
  3. God visiting in person
  4. Another lifeline __________.

 

Our Story

Recall a time when you yourself bullied someone. How did that work out for you?

 

We all have options when bullied by someone with the power to punish or intimidate us. What options do you take away from this story?

  1. Outwardly submit, but inwardly resist.
  2. Resist publicly, even if it kills me.
  3. Pray like my life depends on it.
  4. Pick my battles, then live to fight another day.
  5. Other __________.

 

What big idol in your world are you most tempted to worship?

  1. My political views.
  2. My hobbies of…
  3. My job
  4. My family
  5. Other __________.

 

This story can inspire us to stand for right when the heat is on. What step will you work on   developing this week? 

  1. Find a way to stand with people considered “outcast” or disenfranchised.
  2. “Break down” an idol that tends to replace Jesus in my life.
  3. Repent of my silent complicity when others have been bullied.
  4. I can’t think of anything specific right now—help!
  5. Other 

 

How can this group support you in taking that next step?

 

Close your time together by praying about next steps.