King Nebuchadnezzar was an Old Testament leader who was quite boastful and spent a lot of time bragging about what a great leader and person he was. He also worshiped false gods. Through a dream, God visited Nebuchadnezzar to show him that being prideful is a sin, but the king continued his sinful ways. Only after the scary dream came true and Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to living like an animal, did he realize that God meant what he said. The king repented, asking for forgiveness from his sins. This story has much to teach children about being humble and grateful.
Work together to come up with adjectives that describe Nebuchadnezzar. You can record the list if you're working with younger children, but older children can record the words on their own list. As the students list each adjective, discuss what it means and how it applies to Nebuchadnezzar. For example, the king was very boastful, so you can ask the children for examples of bragging and talk about how bragging can hurt feelings. Once you've made your list, come up with words that are opposites of each adjective. Humility is a good example, and students will learn that thanking God for their talents instead of bragging about them is what God wants them to do.
Illustrate the Events
The frightening dreams and dramatic experiences that Nebuchadnezzar had are a cornerstone of the story because the nightmares were how God was attempting to show the king the error of his ways. One of the dreams, for example, was God telling Nebuchadnezzar that he was like the head of a golden statue, and students could draw or paint pictures to represent that. Another event involved Nebuchadnezzar's ordering Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into a fiery furnace, which is another event that students could easily draw or paint. Reinforce the Bible story by having the children share their illustrations, retelling what each dream or event was about.
In one of the dreams, God sent Nebuchadnezzar a message telling him that if he didn't abandon his boastful ways, he would live like an animal. Give students paper, scissors, glue and empty shoe boxes and instruct them to create a 3D diorama that shows what this might look like. Nebuchadnezzar might have long fingernails like the claws on a bird or a tail like a cow. At another point in the story, Nebuchadnezzar is looking out over his kingdom and bragging about what a great king he was. Build on this by giving students clay and asking them to build a great kingdom. Then have the students squish their creations, reminding them that Nebuchadnezzar lost his kingdom because he wasn't living for God.
Assign the students parts and have them act out the story of Nebuchadnezzar. Include props and costumes in your re-enactment. Older children can put a modern spin on the story by having students act out bragging or reacting to peer pressure. Another activity is to illustrate the difference between being prideful and being humble by bringing two large button-up shirts to class. Tape a note on one that says "prideful" and a note on the other that says "humble." Ask two students to put on the shirts and then have the other students write examples of being prideful and humble on small pieces of blank paper. Discuss each example and then tape them to the appropriate shirt, reminding students that God wants them to wear the clothes of humility.
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