Facing certain death with the integrity of defiant obedience to God

An ancient story challenges our own commitment to the principles of integrity taught by Messiah.

An ancient story challenges our own commitment to the principles of integrity taught by Messiah.

In the third chapter of Daniel, the story is told of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were three Hebrew captives during the Babylonian captivity. Recognition of their names has come down to us in this day and age because of their staunch refusal to worship an idolatrous statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Enraged at their disobedience to the the royal command, the king confronted these three rebellious subjects.

Daniel 3:14, 16-18 – Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up?” … Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

The magnitude of their defiance to the idolatrous command of the king reverberates through the millennia to our day. Interestingly, the actions of these three young men were completely aligned with the principles of integrity that Yeshua was to teach hundreds of years later.

  • Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Matthew 5:10 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
  • Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

There is a Hebraic tradition that during their time in the fiery furnace, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshiped and praised Yahweh for all of his acts of Creation. In the depths of their most severe trial they chose to honor and praise the God for whom they were being sentenced to the cruellest of deaths.

The qualities of integrity demonstrated by these three young men illustrate for us how consistent the Torah or Instruction of God is. The same principles of integrity that guided these three men have been the guiding light of God’s people throughout the biblical record and the history of believers. They defiantly stood for the principles of an eternal kingdom in the face of certain death, just as we should stand for the same principles and the same kingdom today.

The writer to the Hebrews captures the motivation that should guide our actions in our current age of cultural idolatry and blatant disobedience to the principles of God’s kingdom. After listing the deeds of the righteous ancestors of the faith, he concludes this remembrance of their faithfulness and integrity in the face of the bitterest persecution provides the promptings necessary for our own battles.

Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:1 – All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…

Even though they were willing to give their lives, God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fiery furnace, a miraculous occurrence which caused the king himself to worship the God of Israel.

Daniel 3:28-29 – 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. Therefore I issue a decree that anyone of any people, nation, or language who says anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn limb from limb and his house made a garbage dump. For there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”

If this story stands for anything today, it should remind us that whether or not God delivers us from our own fiery trials, to honor and obey him above the dictates of our culture should be our guiding principle. Through his teaching and exemplary sacrifice, Yeshua corroborated the same principles of integrity that these Hebrew men demonstrated in the face of their greatest persecution. We can honor their commitment to the truth of God and the teaching of our Lord and Messiah by likewise being defiantly obedient to God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The kingdom growing until it fills all

Believers in Messiah are part of a chain that is thousands of years old.

Believers in Messiah are part of a chain that is thousands of years old, and one that will continue until it fills the earth.

Luke 13:18-21 – He said, therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like, and what can I compare it to? It’s like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.
Again he said, “What can I compare the kingdom of God to? It’s like leaven that a woman took and mixed into fifty pounds of flour until all of it was leavened.”

If we want to know what the Kingdom of God looks like, we need only to review the parables of Yeshua, since this is where he laid out definitions of the Kingdom for those who were willing to hear. Now, we know that we can’t necessarily just take a surface reading of the parables, because the parables were designed to allow those who wanted to hear the teaching to understand it, and those who were not willing to listen to not understand it.

Luke 8:9-10 – Then his disciples asked him, “What does this parable mean? ” So he said, “The secrets of the kingdom of God have been given for you to know, but to the rest it is in parables, so that ‘Looking they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.'”

The parable of the mustard seed illustrates how the Kingdom would be something that starts extremely small and would grow until it was large enough to support a wildlife habitat. This would be a contrary understanding of the Kingdom to the Jewish ear of Yeshua’s day, because they had the understanding the Kingdom would come in triumphantly and God’s Messiah would rule over all kingdoms immediately, similar to many Christians’ expectation of Messiah’s return in our day.

However, we find Yeshua’s illustration perfectly described the actual working out of God’s Kingdom on the earth: it would start small (Yeshua and the twelve disciples), grow into a larger group (the first-century remnant of Israel), and then spread to become a tree large enough to support its own habitat (illustrated by all believers in Messiah up through our day).

The secondary parable of the leaven carries the same message: the kingdom would start small like the small bit of leaven, but once mixed in with the rest of the dough would end up working its way throughout the entire batch until all of the dough had been affected by the leaven.

Both of these parable explain the same dynamic: the Kingdom starts small, but comes to grow throughout the entirety of the world. While not what the Jews of the day were expecting, it was, however, prophesied in the book of Daniel to do this very thing.

When Daniel was interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of an image made of gold, silver, bronze, and clay mixed with iron, Daniel explained that God had granted Nebuchadnezzar a vision of the future, and that each of these metals represented a kingdom, ending in what was to become the Roman Empire; the iron mixed with clay.

Daniel 2:34-35 – “As you were watching, a stone broke off without a hand touching it, struck the statue on its feet of iron and fired clay, and crushed them. Then the iron, the fired clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were shattered and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors. The wind carried them away, and not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

Daniel described that a stone struck the statue in its feet (which ended up occurring during the Roman empire through the message and teaching of Yeshua) and it became a mountain that filled the whole earth. This growth language is very similar to Yeshua’s parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. Daniel then provides a further explanation by saying to the king:

Daniel 2:43-45 – “You saw the iron mixed with clay ​– ​the peoples will mix with one another but will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with fired clay. In the days of those kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not be left to another people. It will crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself endure forever. You saw a stone break off from the mountain without a hand touching it, and it crushed the iron, bronze, fired clay, silver, and gold. The great God has told the king what will happen in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation reliable.”

The kingdom that God was to set up “in the days of those kings” was indeed the Kingdom of God, ushered in by Messiah, that would be eternal and bring all other kingdoms to an end. Even to this day, the branches continue to extend and the leaven continues to cause the dough to rise. It will not stop until it “fills the earth,” as Daniel predicted.

This is the kingdom we are privileged to be a part of, and one in which we can have a part in its continued expansion. As we live out its principles, we begin to influence those around us with its righteous standards and others can be drawn to Yahweh and his Messiah through our faithfulness. Our obedience to the principles of God’s Word, his Torah, is the catalyst, the leaven, that can cause hearts to forsake the kingdoms of this world and surrender to the Lordship of Messiah.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.