The Fiery Furnace – Daniel

Aim:

To show the children that God is more powerful than anyone or anything.

Bible base:

Daniel 3

You will need:

  • Pictures of powerful people eg prime minister, president, queen/king, etc
  • Some flame-coloured clothing to wear – reds, oranges, yellows and/or a cardboard headband with brightly coloured flame shapes attached to it to make a hat.

Preparation

  • Familiarise yourself with script of story, if possible learn it.
  • Dress in the coloured clothing.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Ask the children who they think is the most powerful person in the world.
  2. Let the children look at the different pictures you have brought in and talk about how there was a king in the Bible who thought that he was more powerful than anyone else in the world, but discovered he wasn’t.
  3. Tell the children that you will pretend to be something in the story and tell them all about it (put on your hat!).

Story

Use the following script to tell the story:

Hello!  I don’t suppose you’ve ever met a talking fiery furnace before.  I’m a bit special, because something amazing once happened in me.  Let me tell you all about it.

I work in Babylon, a country far away from here, whose king was called Nebuchadnezzar.  What a name, eh?!  I don’t suppose anyone here is called Nebuchadnezzar!

Well, I have a very important job to do.  I burn all the rubbish that people no longer want – old vegetable peelings, clothes that are too scruffy and torn even for cleaning rags, never mind for people to wear again, bits of broken things from people’s homes – you know the sort of stuff, anything that can never be used again and is now just rubbish.

One day, as my door was open whilst people were putting in rubbish for me to burn up, I heard three men talking.

‘Have you seen that statue that the king has had put up?  Nearly twenty-seven metres high and three metres wide! And it’s all gold! Imagine that! Said one of the men.

‘Yes, Shadrach, and do you know what the king has demanded?’ asked another.  ‘That whenever we hear the special music play we must all bow down and worship it.’

‘Worship it?’ cried the third man. ‘Never! We should worship only God.’

‘OK, Abednego,’ said the second man. ‘What do you suggest we do?’

‘Well, Meshach, we must refuse to bow down to the statue, and if the king doesn’t like it, tough! If we are punished for it, God will save us.  And even if he doesn’t, we are still not going to bow down to the king’s statue.’

And off they went, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Some days later, I heard a lot of noise nearby and my doors were pulled wide open.  I recognised the voice that was shouting the loudest:  it was King Nebuchadnezzar!

‘Put more coals on the fire!’  he commanded.  And the men did.

‘More!’ shouted the king. ‘Much more!’ I grew hotter and hotter until I was seven times hotter than usual.

Well, by now I was so hot that I was dangerous.  You know how careful you have to be with fire.  The doors opened again and I expected the rubbish to be thrown in. But imagine my horror when not rubbish, but the three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, were thrown in me instead!  They were all tied up and they couldn’t possibly escape.  If I could have cooled down quickly I would have done, but I was so hot that the soldiers who pushed the men inside were killed by my heat.  And there was nothing that I could do to help them.

And then something amazing happened.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not hurt by my incredible heat.  They started to walk around, completely unhurt.  And, even more amazing, there was a fourth man walking there with them.  Who could it be?  Was this their great God who I had heard them talking about?

The king came close to me and shouted, ‘Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out!’ And they did, with not a hair on their heads touched by my fire.  It was incredible!  The king called to everyone to listen to him. ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  These men trusted him and he has saved them.’

And that was the end of that.  I’m back to burning up people’s rubbish now, and everything is alright again.  I thought I was powerful when they heated me up so hot.  But I’ll never be anything like as powerful as God.

(Take your hat off!)

Application

  1. Comment that King Nebuchadnezzar realised that God was far more powerful than himself.  Ask the children why.  What did God do to show his power in the story?
  2. Tell the children that Christians believe God is still as powerful as that today.

Prayer

Invite the children to say ‘Amen’ to this prayer if they would like to:

Father God, thank you that you have the power to do things that no ordinary person can do.  Amen.

 

Learning from the past – Remembrance Day

Topic:

Remembrance Day

Aim

To help children understand that it is important to learn from others in history.

Things you’ll need

A variety of objects on a tray covered with a tea towel for Kim’s Game.

Bible base

Daniel 5

Content

1 Ask for two volunteers to play Kim’s Game. Allow the volunteers thirty seconds to look at the objects on the tray, then cover the tray with the tea towel. Ask the volunteers to take turns to name one object at a time. See who can keep going the longest.

2 Now tell the story of Belshazzar’s feast from Daniel 5. Explain that God expected Belshazzar to learn from his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had learnt that he was not more powerful or important than God. God expected Belshazzar to remember and learn that lesson.

The story:

King Belshazzar was a rich, powerful, proud ruler who thought he was more important than God and could do whatever he liked.

One night he gave a huge party and invited hundreds of his wealthy, important friends. There was a lot to drink and they drank too much. They didn’t care what God thought. They even drank wine from special ceremonial cups they had stolen from God’s Temple.

Suddenly, something amazing and terrifying happened. A hand appeared all by itself and began to write strange words on the wall. King Belshazzar went white. His knees knocked together. The great king was shaking with fear!

King Belshazzar sent for Daniel – who did care about what God thought, and had a special gift for understanding things like this.

Daniel told the king that he should have learnt from his grandfather, King Nebuchadnezzar. He had been a proud man who thought he was more important than God and did all sorts of evil things. God punished him. He lost his throne and became an outcast. But he had come to his senses and realised that he wasn’t as important as he had thought and he began to do things right. Then God let him become king once again.

King Belshazzar hadn’t remembered and learnt this lesson from history. He had carried on doing what he wanted, not what was right. Daniel explained to the king that the strange words written on the wall meant that God was going to punish him for all the evil things he kept on doing. The message said that his life and his kingship were over. He should have remembered what had happened to his grandfather.

That very night King Belshazzar was killed.

Application

A Christian viewpoint

God expects Christians to look back at what he as done in the past and to learn from that. Usually that means looking at the Bible, but also it means looking at what God has done in the lives of people since the Bible was written and learning from them.

For everyone

Remembrance Day is a time for us not to be like Belshazzar, but to look back and learn. We can look back and see how people hated others because of their religion or nationality. We can learn from that and decide that we will respect and be friends with those who are different from us, not hate them.

Response

Finish with this, or a similar, prayer:

Dear God, thank you for people who stand up for what is right. Thank you for people who have learnt from what others have done. Help each of us to learn from others and from what we know happened in the past. Amen.

 

Danger in the Den – Daniel

Aim:

To help the children understand that God is always with them in whatever situation they may find themselves.

Bible base:

Daniel 6

You will need:

  • Some photos of personal friends (as large as possible)
  • A few simple props to help your acting volunteers, for example a crown for King Darius, a card headband with Percy written on it, a rug, etc

Preparation

Look carefully at the story in Daniel 6 and at the script, noting the places props will be used.

Presentation

Introduction

  1. Show the children your photos. (Those nearer the back could have a closer look later if they are unable to see.) Tell them why you enjoy being with your friends, how they may have helped you when in difficulty and about things you have done together.
  2. Point out to the children that however special your friends are, they can’t be with you all the time and they can’t always help you.
  3. Explain that Daniel, a man we read about in the Bible, found out there was only one special best friend who could always be there and always help.

Story

Choose a few volunteers to act out the story as you tell it using the props where appropriate.

A long time ago in a distant land,

many hundreds and thousands of years ago,

there was a man called Daniel,

and a great king called Darius.

Daniel had worked for the king all his life but unlike many other men at the palace he always spoke the truth.

Also Daniel knew that God was wise, strong, loving, the greatest.

Every day, morning, midday and evening he would talk to God like a friend,

tell him about his day,

about problems at the palce,

what sort of mood the king was in,

anything and everything

and God listened.

King Darius admired Daniel and listened to everything he said carefully.

Daniel always spoke the truth

and because God had give him good advice,

he was always having brilliant new ideas.

The king always took notice of what Daniel said

and the other important people in the palace became more and more annoyed.

‘Who does he think he is?’

‘He makes us look stupid!’

‘I hate him.’

And they began huddling together in corners of the palace grounds, trying to come up with some idea about how to get rid of Daniel.

Eventually one man, Percy, came up with a cunning plan. Although King Darius appreciated Daniel’s honest approach, he was very vain and liked people saying nice things about him.

One morning, when Daniel was out seeing to some important business for the king, Percy went into the royal apartments, threw himself down on the Persian rug and said,

‘O Great and Wonderful.

I can hardly bring myself to breathe in the presence of your majesty.

Please allow me to grovel at your feet.’

‘Certainly, dear boy,’ said the king.

‘Your majesty’ Percy continued, ‘the people know you are handsome, strong and very wise.’

The kind smiled. ‘Do they?’ he said.

‘But perhaps they do not know quite HOW WONDERFUL you are.’

The king frowned. ‘Don’t they?’ he said.

Why don’t we make a new law which says the people can only pray to you and to no one else for the next thirty days?’

‘Excellent, excellent,’ said the king. ‘Let’s do it.’

Percy grinned sneakily, bowed and left the throne room.

And so it turned out that by the time Daniel came back to the palace, a new law had been written and sealed by the king and was to be enforced by a whole division of palace guards. Daniel heard about this new law as he reached the palace gates.

The king welcomed him as usual.

He told Daniel of the new law he’d devised by himself without Daniel’s help.

‘Congratulations, my lord king,’ said Daniel. ‘Tell me about it.’

So the king told him about the law and the people having to pray to him alone.

‘Aah,’ said Daniel, ‘and what will happen to those who disobey?’

The king told him that Percy had come up with a good idea.

‘Oh,’ said Daniel.

‘The new law says that anyone praying to someone other than me will be thrown into a pit of lions.’

‘Oh dear, oh dear,’ said Daniel softly.

And he kept saying this to himself as he went home, talked to God and climbed into bed.

In fact he kept on saying this to himself even in his sleep – a sleep troubled by dreams of bright eyes, golden manes and very large teeth.

The next morning, everyone started praying to the king, but Daniel talked to God instead.

At mid day, everyone still prayed to the king, but Daniel talked to God instead.

In the evening when everyone else was praying to King Darius, Daniel was talking to God.

All the people were too afraid to disobey the king.

But Daniel could not desert God, his oldest friend.

Of course, this is what Daniel’s enemies wanted.

Percy and a few friends had sneaked round to Daniel’s house to spy on him.

Daniel made no secret of what he was doing.

He sat by the open window, talking to God, as usual, like a friend.

After they saw this, his enemies went and told the king that Daniel was still praying three times a day. The king looked very serious and sad when they told him what had happened, but had to agree that Daniel had broken the new law. Daniel was arrested and bundled off to the king.

Daniel said, ‘I’m sorry for disobeying you, my lord king, but God is too good a friend to give up.’

The king understood, but Percy reminded him the law had been broken, a law written and signed by the king himself.

The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God rescue you!’ and Daniel was put into the pit where the lions lived.

The entrance was sealed and the king went back miserably to the palace.

All night King Darius walked up and down in his dressing gown.

In the morning the king was at the entrance to the pit at first light.

‘Daniel, Daniel,’ he called ‘Was your God able to save you?’

‘Yes, your majesty,’ said Daniel, ‘God sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths. They did not harm me at all. Isn’t it wonderful? I knew God wouldn’t let me down.’

The king was overjoyed to hear his friend alive and gave orders for Daniel to be pulled out of the pit. The lions roared ferociously but everyone could see that Daniel had not been hurt at all.

The king said, ‘My dear Daniel, it is wonderful. This just goes to show that GOD IS THE BEST FRIEND TO HAVE after all.’

Application

  1. Talk about Daniel’s feelings when the law was made, when he was in the lion’s den, and when the lions didn’t hurt him.
  2. Make the point that God is with us, as he was with Daniel. We can trust him to help us if we ask him.