1. The unreformed despot (verses 1-6) King Nebuchadnezzar seems to have forgotten that Daniel’s God is ‘the God of gods and the Lord of kings’ and makes a huge statue that all must worship. Warning to rulers: do not have a statue of yourself erected in your own lifetime.
2. The jealous astrologers (7-12) The king is warned that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel’s colleagues, are not bowing down to the statue. Racial and religious persecution is still prevalent in the world today.
3. The non-compliant administrators (15-18) Nebuchadnezzar threatens the three with the furnace, but their reply is bold, frank and uncompromising: our God can and will save us, but even if He does not, we will not worship the image of gold.
4. The super-heated furnace (19-23) The three are bound and thrown into the furnace.
5. The fourth man (24-25) Four men are seen walking in the fire, the fourth ‘like a son of the gods’. Is it an angel? Or is it Jesus Himself, right beside His beloved ones?
6. The non-odorous believers (26-27) The three are called out of the furnace, completely unharmed. When God saves us, He saves completely. Jesus brings total redemption.
7. The king who changed (a bit) (28-29) Nebuchadnezzar still doesn’t understand about the one true God or freedom of religion.
Learning points: boldness; God can rescue us from all dangers; Jesus is with us in every situation; we will not serve other gods.