TEXT: Daniel 3:1-18
The students will be able to state the importance of resisting peer pressure that would hinder their spiritual development.
According to the Septuagint this incident occurred in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, after Daniel and his three friends had been in Babylon about twenty years. That was the same year that Nebuchadnezzar burned Jerusalem (586 B.C.).
Just as God had previously revealed to Daniel the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and its interpretation, He now puts into the hearts of these three men the firm determination to be true.
Oppert, who excavated in the ruins of Babylon (1863), found a pedestal of a colossal statue that may have been the remains of Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. The image was 60 cubits (90 feet) high and six cubits (nine feet) wide, evidently in the form of an obelisk. How grotesque man’s idolatry and self-deification are in the sight of the God in Heaven.
The word dura means “the wall” and probably refers to the walls built around cities to protect them. “The plain of Dura” is perhaps Tulul Dura, a few miles southeast of Babylon.
Three young Hebrew men who served God—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were asked to bow down and worship a golden image. Like true men of faith, they refused. There were, however, some Chaldeans who observed the Hebrews’ refusal. They quickly reported the incident to the king. Now the heat was on! It was literally bow or burn. They had to choose between bowing to an idol or being true to the God of Israel.
- Who are one’s peers? Who were the peers of the three Hebrew children? See Daniel 2:48-49 and 3:2-3.
Response: Let the students define peer: “One of equal standing with another . . . the associates or companions of one.” Who are the peers of a teenager? Who are the peers of a young mother? The peers of the Hebrew children included the princes, governors, captains, judges, treasurers, counsellors, sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces. Daniel was also their peer.
- What is meant by the phrase harmful peer pressure? Give an example of harmful peer pressure from your own experience.
Response: Harmful peer pressure forces one into situations that would hinder one’s spiritual development. Allow your students to discuss their own personal experiences. Who in our text attempted to exert this type of peer pressure? Discuss with the class whether or not the attempt by the Chaldeans was harmful. The point should be made that this type of pressure can be resisted, and when it is, then the entire experience becomes one of spiritual benefit.
- How can harmful peer pressure be resisted?
Response: Ask for personal experiences of resistance. When is a polite refusal in order? A firm refusal? An open rebuke? Is a wishy-washy answer effective in resisting? Why not? Stress that displaying firm conviction the first time is the best resistance the second time.
- Is there such a thing as positive peer pressure? Explain. Give an example of positive peer pressure from your own experience.
Response: Daniel 1:8 is a perfect illustration of how Daniel’s example encouraged the other three to follow the same course. How might the Hebrew children have reacted in that situation without Daniel’s example? Positive peer pressure influences one to enter into situations that are spiritually uplifting and to steer away from spiritually damaging situations. Encourage your class to give their personal examples.
- What guidelines can you use to determine whether the peer pressure you experience is positive or harmful?
Response: Your students should see that God’s Word is the main directive in measuring whether the pressure applied is for our good or likely to be harmful. How did the Hebrew children know? They knew by the Commandments of God (Exodus 20:3-5) that they should not bow down to any image. Your students may also suggest that the advice of God’s ministers, or Christian parents, might be another way to analyze peer pressure. Observing the lives of godly people and following their example will be helpful.
- How can resisting harmful peer pressure help a Christian? How do you think it helped the three Hebrew children in Daniel 1?
Response: How does one feel immediately after taking a stand? What effect does it have on the next time? How does one feel who fails to take a stand? What happens the next time? How does one obtain the conviction to withstand peer pressure? How does one keep it?
- Why didn’t God deliver the three Hebrew children from going into the furnace?
Response: Point out that resisting harmful peer pressure won’t be easy, nor will the immediate result always seem pleasant. Then refer to the key verse.
- How is peer pressure experienced among church associates?
Response: Without reference to specific individuals, let the students discuss both positive and harmful peer pressure exerted by different church associates. The spiritually shallow will pressure their peers to be likewise. Those who seek spiritual development encourage their peers to seek the same. What methods do each use?
- How can one effectively accept positive peer pressure among friends?
Response: As your students discuss this, they should see the importance of being submissive and receptive to any directive which would seem to encourage them in the right way spiritually. If the pressure is for their spiritual good, then they should accept the pressure and yield. Discuss specific ways they can be of help to one another. How do you think the three Hebrew children were able to encourage one another? What words of encouragement can we offer to others? Discuss the importance of upholding the doctrines and supporting the ministry. What effect does this have on others?
- Read Daniel 3:30. The end result of resisting harmful peer pressure was a promotion for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Is the end result always a promotion? Explain.
Response: The promotion may not come from man, but it will come from God. One’s spiritual development takes a giant leap forward each time harmful peer pressure is resisted. Would you feel any different about the subject if the three Hebrew children had perished in the fiery furnace?
Use a rock, a soft piece of wood, two nails and a hammer. By hammering a nail into each object, compare how a soft (wood) Christian cannot resist pressure (nail), while a strong (rock) Christian will resist the pressure better.
Using the following situations, do some role-playing on how to resist peer pressure. You could play one part and have the children play the other, or they could volunteer to take the two parts and act out the role. After each example, discuss what should have been done or said differently.
This will encourage the students to take a stand against sin and peer pressure to do the wrong thing.
1. A boy or girl you like very much has asked you to go to a dance. You know you should not go but he/she is being very insistent. You are trying to say no.
2. You are with a friend who takes you to another friend’s home. They are drinking, and your friend is trying to get you to join the party. You are trying to say no.
3. Your friend knows where the teacher has the answers to the test you are about to take, and is insisting on sharing them with you because you didn’t get to study. You are trying to say no.
While discussing the need in all of us to feel we fit in with our friends, fold and cut out a chain of connected people figures. Then explain that if those around us are moving in the wrong direction, we must remove ourselves (cut one figure out) and stand alone, even if it is difficult.