Explore The Bible Study: Demonstrate Allegiance

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What if government officials came to you and demanded you openly acknowledge allegiance to the country over your allegiance to Christ; how would you respond? What if the government said you could avoid certain penalties or be exempt from certain mandates if you would only deny your faith in Christ; how would you respond? These are questions the Explore The Bible Study: Demonstrate Allegiance will help to answer.

In Daniel 3, a moment of decision comes for Daniel's three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (known also as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Nebuchadnezzar had erected a large golden image on the plain of Dura near Babylon. The dimensions of the statue were designed to gain attention. It was 90 feet high and nine feet wide. All of Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects were to obey his decree to fall down and worship the statue when they heard the sound of various musical instruments. Those who refused to worship the image would face certain death in a furnace of blazing fire.

It was reported to the king that these three men did not serve his gods, nor did they worship the image.  Because they knew what and in whom they believed, and because of their love for God, they did not bow. As you examine their response in Daniel 3:14-26 determine how you might have responded. 

What would you have said? Would you have bowed down? When all is on the line, who will you worship? When a moment of choice comes, who will you obey?

Allegiance is demonstrated when one remains faithful to Christ no matter the outcome – Daniel 3:14-18

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah knew God’s purpose would be served, whether He delivered them from the king’s power or whether they died in the furnace. Had they compromised they would have violated the Second Commandment (see Exodus 20:4-6) and would have communicated to everyone observing that God was not worthy of their faithful allegiance. They were sure of God and His power and trusted Him.

When we face faith-challenging situations, it is all the more important to declare our allegiance to God. God will choose His response, but He calls us to faithfulness. We need to be ready to take our stand for God whatever the cost. As we examine the next set of passages, imagine that you were one of the three men. Nebuchadnezzar is infuriated, the heat to the furnace is turned up, and you are taken by his soldiers to the furnace

Do you think someone could really respond as did the men in this story? Why or why not Do you really think we should be expected to die for loving God? Would God really expect that from us? Would we expect that of ourselves?

Allegiance is demonstrated when one willingly faces whatever consequences that come because of remaining faithful to Christ – Daniel 3:19-23

The men’s disobedient reply had occurred before many witnesses; consequently, the king had to respond strongly, despite the men’s faithful service to him. He desired their execution to serve as a public deterrent to disobeying him! However, their response only further demonstrated their love for and allegiance to God. The reality of their decision is hitting home. They are being taken to an extra hot furnace. Death was imminent.

Believers can expect many different forms of persecution from non-believers. Many in the world do not want to confront the reality of their sin. Consequently, they consider the gospel, with its challenge to repent and place faith in Jesus, a threat to the lifestyles they have chosen.  Forms of persecution might include missing a promotion or a loss of a job because of our stand for Christ. Former friends may choose to shun us and turn away from their relationship with us. In some countries, Christians will face imprisonment and even death for their faith.

However great or small the persecution, once we make a decision to remain faithful to Christ, we should pray that we will respond to the consequences as did these three men. 

Responding faithfully and with dignity to the decisions we make to remain faithful to Christ further demonstrates to a lost and watching world that we trust Christ with all our hearts.

Our allegiance reveals God to a lost and watching world – Daniel 3:24-26

Though the pagan king did not fully understand whom their God had sent, describing the fourth man as His angel, he nonetheless gave God full credit for the three men’s deliverance. Nebuchadnezzar responded to this unforeseen change of events by expressing praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! These three men had trusted in God’s presence and power. They had resisted all pressure to falter in their faith in Him. As a result, the most powerful ruler of their time ended up proclaiming praise to God. 

While we may not experience what these men experienced, how has God protected you when you remained faithful to Him?

In what ways have you experienced Jesus’ presence and power during extreme circumstances or trials?

Had this story ended with their death, would that have changed your view of God? Why or why not?

Is God any less powerful, loving, or present when someone stands faithful, and the result is pain, suffering, or death instead of safety or deliverance?

The Outcome

These three men were willing to take a stand for God, regardless of the cost, and had no guarantee He would save them. Without their faithful demonstration of allegiance to God, the Bible would contain no account of a deliverance from a blazing furnace. Daniel 3:28 summarizes the impact of these three men’s faith in this way, Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.

Are you confident and passionate enough about your faith that you would be willing to stand up for Christ even when your well-being, job, families, or homes are threatened? What if the outcome may result in death?

Be grateful that our challenges are not as threatening as they might be in other countries around the world. Take advantage of our freedom by willingly demonstrating your allegiance to Him by faithfully sharing and showing the Good News of Jesus.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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