Examples of Keepers of Integrity
1. During the world rule of the third head of the wild beast, what outstanding case of refusal to worship the beast do we have?
THE “wild beast” of Revelation 13:1-8, as explained by Roman Catholic and other Bible commentaries, includes ancient Babylon or Chaldea, the third world power. Even so, in the Bible’s history of Babylon as the third head of the symbolic wild beast, we find an outstanding case of men who refused to worship that beast twenty-five hundred years ago. Daniel 3:1-30 (AS) tells us that the three men keeping integrity were named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (or Sidrach, Misach and Abdenago, Douay). When accusing them before Babylon’s emperor, Nebuchadnezzar, their enemies spoke of them as “certain Jews.” At the request of the prophet Daniel these three Jews had been appointed by Emperor Nebuchadnezzar to high positions over the affairs of the province of Babylon, whereas Daniel himself was in the gate of the emperor as ruler over the whole province of Babylon and as chief governor over all of Babylon’s wise men.—Dan. 2:48, 49, AS.
2, 3. Why were those Jews not violating their covenant with Jehovah by serving in such high positions of a pagan political government?
2 But how was it that these Jews, under a national covenant with Jehovah God through the mediator Moses, were serving in such high positions of a pagan political government? Were they not violating their covenant with God, who had given them the Ten Commandments through Moses? No. Why not? Because their own Jewish government, the Kingdom at Jerusalem, was not then in existence. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies had destroyed it in 607 before the Christian era. Even eleven years before its destruction Daniel and his three Jewish companions had been carried away from Jerusalem and been made exiles in Babylon. So both before and after Jerusalem’s destruction these four Jews were captives and slaves of Babylon.
3 Jehovah God had been using Nebuchadnezzar as his servant in executing certain judgments upon the disobedient peoples, and He had told the priests and people of Jerusalem: “Serve the king of Babylon, and live.” But they had refused and so suffered death by the executioner. False prophets, Zedekiah and Ahab, had counseled against submitting to Nebuchadnezzar. For this the king of Babylon roasted those opposing prophets in the fire. (Jer. 27:16, 17; 29:21-23, AS) But Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were obediently serving Nebuchadnezzar as his captives and slaves. However, when it came to paying to Nebuchadnezzar anything that he demanded in violation of the supreme law of their God, they refused to obey this chief ruler then on earth. They did like Peter and the other apostles; they obeyed God as Ruler rather than men.—Acts 5:29.
4. Why did Nebuchadnezzar set up the golden image in the plain of Dura, and what did the enemies accuse Daniel’s three companions of not doing?
4 In the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image ninety feet high and nine feet broad. Whether it was an image of his favorite god Marduk or not is left unsaid. One thing at least, it represented the purpose of the emperor to unite all peoples of the empire in one common worship to hold them all together as subjects and to make them worship the “wild beast.” Nebuchadnezzar had all the officials of all the provinces of the empire to come together for the dedication of the image. The herald cried out that at the sound of the many-piece orchestra all should fall down and unitedly worship this golden image. If they did not do so, they would be pitched into a fiery furnace. When the orchestra struck up, whether with a national hymn or not, “all the peoples, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” But not Daniel’s three Jewish companions who were present. At this the Chaldeans complained to Nebuchadnezzar: “They serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
5. With threats, what did Nebuchadnezzar order the three Jewish officials to violate?
5 Nebuchadnezzar called the three Jewish officials. He threatened them. He ordered them to violate the first two of the Ten Commandments, namely: “I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God.” (Ex. 20:2-5, AS) In view of this, how did those three slaves answer their captor, the chief of State?
6. How did the three answer the chief of State?
6 With integrity toward Jehovah God by holding fast to the principles set down in his commandments. Said they: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
7. What experience did the three have with the fiery furnace, and what acknowledgment did Nebuchadnezzar then make toward their God?
7 Nebuchadnezzar was a very devoted worshiper of the false god Marduk and felt outraged at the three Jews’ defiance. In his rage he had them thrown bound into the furnace specially heated up seven times as hot, to show how hot he himself felt at them. Those who threw them in were themselves consumed by the flames of the superheated furnace. Surely, then, the three worshipers of Jehovah must have been consumed also! But not so! As Nebuchadnezzar looked in from a good distance he said: “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Frightened, he called out, not to the fourth one like a son of the gods, but to the three worshipers of Jehovah, saying: “Ye servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come hither.” As they did so, everybody around saw that “the fire had no power upon their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed, neither were their hosen changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them.” Then the mightiest ruler then on earth blessed their God, “who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. . . . there is no other god that is able to deliver after this sort.” (AS) By this, Nebuchadnezzar meant Jehovah God of the Ten Commandments.
8. By their stand against the emperor and State worship, whose interests did those three Jews seem to endanger, but how has their faithful stand affected God’s people down to this day?
8 For their integrity toward him Jehovah delivered them. By their bold, unflinching stand against the world emperor and State worship they seemed to endanger the interests of all the other Jews there in captivity in Babylon. Those three Jewish slave officials knew that. But neither for the seeming benefit of their Jewish neighbors would they compromise with a ruler inferior to their God. They loved God more than themselves and their neighbors. Their faithful stand really incited their Jewish neighbors to love God above all else. It has strengthened all other Jewish slaves and neighbors, as well as all true Christians down to this day, to keep integrity to Jehovah as God, and not to worship any image that any political ruler sets up and commands to be worshiped. This also includes worshiping the symbolic wild beast and its image.
9. How do we know Scripturally whose witnesses Daniel and his three companions were?
9 Daniel and the other three Jewish slave officials of Nebuchadnezzar are doubtless the ones specially meant in Hebrews 11:33, 34 as men of faith who “stopped the mouths of lions, stayed the force of fire.” Hebrews 11:1, 2 says: “Faith . . . by means of this the men of old times had witness borne to them.” After chapter eleven names and describes many of those ancient men and women of faith who “had witness borne to them,” Hebrews 12:1 tells Christians: “We have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us.” Whose witnesses were Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? Jehovah’s witnesses, obedient to his command in Isaiah 43:10-12 (AS): “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, . . . and I am God.”
10. Whose example, then, must we today follow, and especially looking at whom as an example?
10 All of us who are dedicated Christians are, like the apostles, surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. The example of these we must follow, especially looking to the greatest of all witnesses of Jehovah, Jesus Christ, “the leader and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. 12:1, 2) Jesus Christ did not worship the “wild beast.”
11. How did Jesus, under temptation, not act like the “wild beast,” and what principle did he then state for our government?
11 Immediately after Jesus was baptized in water he was led out into the wilderness by the operation of God’s spirit that had come down upon him, anointing him. There he was put to the test by Satan the Devil. Satan was the symbolic Dragon that had caused the wild beast to come up out of the sea and that gave to the wild beast “its power and its throne and great authority.” (Rev. 13:1, 2) Under temptation by this Dragon, Jesus did not act like that wild beast, but kept in harmony with God’s purpose concerning the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the heavens. To tempt Jesus, the Devil showed him “all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time” and said: “I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me and to whomever I wish I give it. You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.” Rather than grab after the kingdoms of this old world, like the “wild beast” without understanding, Jesus held to the principle of Jehovah’s worship and stuck to God’s kingdom of the heavens. As the Leader of Christianity, Jesus answered the “god of this system of things” straight and declared the special principle that governs his conduct and also our conduct, if we are Christians: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.”—Luke 4:5-8; Deut. 6:13.
12. What was the kingdom that Jesus was after?
12 That is why Jesus mixed in no politics and had no worldly, political ambitions. His kingdom was not of the same source as Caesar’s or as that of the symbolic wild beast. (John 18:36) Jesus gathered no army to free ancient Israel from Caesar’s taxation and control or to establish a political State on earth. He foretold the destruction of natural Israel and he let it be destroyed by the armies of the Roman Caesar at the downfall of Jerusalem and its temple A.D. 70. Why? Because Jesus was for spiritual Israel. The kingdom he was after was the spiritual kingdom of the heavens, the kingdom that he preached and that he commanded his true followers to preach about in this time of the end of the old world.—Matt. 24:14.
13. What was the “throne of Jehovah” upon which Jesus wanted to sit?
13 The “throne of Jehovah” upon which Jesus wanted to sit as Anointed Ruler was not that throne on which King David had sat and which King Nebuchadnezzar overturned in 607 B.C.E., but it was Jehovah’s real throne in the highest heavens, where the place was kept for Jesus at Jehovah’s right hand.—Ps. 110:1, 2; Heb. 10:12, 13.
14. If we love Jehovah with our all, whom also must we love and therefore imitate, and why?
14 If we are commanded to love Jehovah with all our heart, soul and mind, then we must also love Jehovah’s living Image, Jesus Christ. (Heb. 1:2, 3; Col. 1:15; John 14:9) Christians must therefore imitate Jesus Christ their Leader. The imitation of him must be a guiding principle in the lives of his dedicated followers. We must be a people of right worship. Only as such will we be delivered.
NEW WORLD ASSOCIATION
15. (a) In Psalm 26 what did David say to prove he had walked in the principle of Jehovah’s worship? (b) What, therefore, could he implore Jehovah not to do toward him?
15 To prove that he had walked in the principles of the worship of Jehovah and as a kingdom representative of Jehovah, David said: “I have walked in your truth. For I have not sat with men of untruth, and with those who conceal what they are I do not come in. I have hated the congregation of evildoers, and with the wicked ones I do not sit. I shall wash my hands in innocency itself, and I will march around your altar, O Jehovah, to cause thanksgiving to be heard aloud, and to declare all your wonderful works. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, nor my life along with bloodguilty men, in whose hands there is loose conduct and whose right hand is full of bribery.” (Ps. 26:3-7, 9, 10) King David did not want to be associated with such persons during his lifetime. He did not want to be found even dead with them, whether rulers or political officials or plain citizens. With this desire in his heart he shunned them during his life and kept away from untruth and hypocrisy, from bloodguilt and loose conduct, and from accepting or demanding bribes. On the basis of this he could implore God not to take away his soul and his life along with the sinful and the blood guilty men. He wanted to be delivered from the destruction that would come up on such sinners and bloodstained men from God’s hand. Although the theocratic kingdom of Israel of which he was ruler was in the midst of the world there in the Middle East, yet King David did not want his kingdom to be a part of this world.
16. Accordingly, with whom must we as followers of the Greater David keep from associating, and this according to what principle stated by Jesus?
16 This points up the principle that must guide us who follow the Greater David, namely, Jesus Christ, who was David’s son according to the flesh, but who is now David’s Lord according to the spirit life he enjoys in heaven. We, if claiming to be his followers, must avoid associating with this old world now so full of men like those whom David avoided. Because we are flesh and blood like other humans, we have to live in this world during its “time of the end.” But we cannot be of this old world and also be of God’s new world which we preach. Jesus himself stated this principle in these words: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.” According to this same principle Jesus prayed to God and said: “I have given your word to them, but the world has hated them, because they are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world. I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one.”—John 15:19; 17:14, 15.
17. If we were taken out of this world, what could we not do under God’s keeping?
17 If we were taken out of this world we could not be witnesses of Jehovah as God nor witnesses of Jesus as God’s anointed King reigning since 1914. So we have not been taken out of this world, but have been allowed to remain in it to bear witness to God’s kingdom. But Jesus has prayed for us that his heavenly Father should watch over us because of the wicked one, Satan the Devil, who has now been cast out of heaven and down to this earth.
18. In what universal controversy may we not be neutral, and how do we show we are not neutral according to the principle of Romans 10:9, 10?
18 Because the chief thing to be proved before all intelligent creation is the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the heavens, is the foremost teaching of his written Word, the Holy Bible. All dedicated Christians are commanded to preach that kingdom as the best news that there is. The controversy now heatedly rages between God’s kingdom established in the heavens A.D. 1914 and the kingdoms of this old world. In this universal controversy we cannot be neutral. True, we must pay tax to Caesar in rendering to Caesar what belongs to him, even in this time of his end. But first, last and all the time we must be for God’s kingdom by Christ. We must openly make known that we are for it by preaching it to Caesar and to everybody else. No political governments of this doomed world are shut out from having the Kingdom witness preached to them. (Matt. 24:14) While believing with all our heart that the resurrected Christ is now King, yet we must make public declaration of our belief if we want to be saved, or if we want to be delivered. That is the unchangeable principle written down in Romans 10:9, 10.
19. How did Peter, and still earlier Joel, set forth that same principle?
19 Nineteen centuries ago on the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter set forth that same principle, saying: “Before the great and illustrious day of Jehovah arrives . . . anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Acts 2:20, 21) The prophet Joel, from whom Peter quoted, stated that same principle still earlier, hundreds of years before Peter, in Joel 2:31, 32. Today we can keep integrity only by acting on this principle, of calling on Jehovah’s name or declaring it publicly.
20. To act in harmony with that same principle, what house did David prefer, and so for what benefit did his psalms work?
20 Long ago King David acted on that principle at the same time that he prayed to be spared execution with the wicked ones and to be redeemed and shown favor by Jehovah God. This was why he preferred Jehovah’s house of worship to the companionship and association with the wicked. He said: “Jehovah, I have loved the dwelling of your house and the place of the residence of your glory.” Worship at God’s house provided him with the opportunity to march around God’s altar of sacrifice, to cause thanksgiving to be heard aloud and to declare all of Jehovah’s wonderful works. With this as his purpose David closed the twenty-sixth psalm, saying: “Among the congregated throngs I shall bless Jehovah.” (Ps. 26:8, 12) The public declaration that David made and then put down in written psalms worked for his own salvation to God’s new world and works also for the salvation of Christians who read David’s psalms.
21. What is done to make us fail in our obligation and right to preach the good news, and why did Paul not bribe but appeal his case?
21 Never may we dedicated Christians fail in our obligation and right to preach the good news of the Kingdom as Christ commanded. He and his disciples warned us that the political and religious powers of this world would try to take away our God-given right to preach, to put the quietus on the message, if not also to kill us and silence our voices. As regards this right the apostle Paul did not compromise. Religious persons, including men who professed to worship the Lord God, stirred up opposition to Paul at Philippi, at Thessalonica, at Beroea and finally at Jerusalem. It was in no sense of compromise that Paul finally appealed to Caesar to put a stop to this interference by religionists and to establish legally the right to preach God’s kingdom. Why, then, did Paul appeal? In order to carry the fight on to the very finish, to the highest court of the Roman empire, asking no quarter of the enemy and giving none. Even the laws of Caesar did not authorize the religionists of that time to interfere with preaching God’s kingdom. Moreover, God’s laws were all for this preaching. So Paul fought with all the weapons he had a right to use. Even for his own personal convenience Paul used no underhanded means, which would leave the issue still undecided, still unestablished legally. Hence he refused to bribe Governor Felix to let him out of prison.—Acts 24:26, 27.
22. To what purpose was Paul committed in this connection?
22 As a Roman citizen Paul dignified the Kingdom message by appealing to the highest earthly judicial authority of that day, Caesar, to whom Paul as a Christian paid tax. (Acts 25:10-12) Paul was entirely committed to the “defending and legally establishing of the [right to preach the] good news.” (Phil. 1:7) This course worked toward the fulfilling of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 10:18.
23. So, like Paul, how do Jehovah’s witnesses proceed where not banned and where banned, looking for salvation from whom?
23 Today we stand upon the rightness of the principle that the Christian apostle Paul followed. Where bans do not exist against Jehovah’s witnesses, we as tax-paying citizens appeal to the modern-day Caesar, to estop the foes of the Kingdom preaching by Caesar’s own laws. Where bans do exist, Jehovah’s witnesses under the ban cannot appeal to Caesar inside his own territory. But as regards Jehovah’s command to His witnesses to preach his kingdom, they obey God as Ruler rather than the ban by men who are fighters against God and who will perish now no later than at the universal war of Armageddon. (Isa. 51:12) Salvation to eternal life in God’s new world will come, not through Caesar, who shortly must perish, but by God Jehovah and through Jesus Christ his reigning King.
24. How, then, will we act just as stated by David in Psalm 26, and how, therefore, will our prayers be answered?
24 Like King David, we, the remnant of the heirs of God’s kingdom and also the great crowd of companions of good will toward God’s kingdom, love the dwelling of Jehovah’s house and this place where his glory resides. Here we will continue to worship him in a loving adherence to the principles that he has laid out in his written Word for guiding and governing our Christian conduct. Here among the congregated throngs of his worshipers we will now and forever bless Jehovah. To the end of this old world we will conscientiously walk on in our Scripturally defined integrity toward God. Since we do so, our prayers will be acceptable to him and he will redeem us through Christ. When he takes away the soul and life of the sinners and bloodstained men of this world, he will preserve us amidst their catastrophic end. As a rewarder of those earnestly seeking him he will deliver us into that promised new world of his, a world of godly principle and integrity.