8Thereupon, at that time, the men of the Chaldeans came near to denounce the Jews. 9They answered and [were] saying to Nebuchadnezzar the king, “O king, live to ages. 10You the king set a decree that every man who heard the sound of the horn, the pipe, zither, the lyre, harp, and pipes and the all of the sorts of the music should fall and should worship the image of the gold, 11and whoever would not fall and worship should be cast to the midst of the furnace of the fire burning. 12There are men of the Jews whom you appointed them upon the business of the province of Babel – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego the men. Those do not set to you the king a decree, not paying homage to your gods and not worshiping the image of the gold which you set up.
There is so much to write on these verses, I almost don’t know where to start. I could comment on the fact that this list of musical instruments is again not identical to either of the previous two. I think for now I will just note it and then come back to ponder those differences when I’ve dissected the entire chapter.
Can we help but notice once again that these Chaldeans are of their father the devil and the lusts of their father they do? The very name “Satan” means “adversary” in Hebrew. He is and always was “the accuser of the brethren.” And where do we find him in the book of Job? At the throne of the very King of kings and doing what? Accusing. This “accusing” nature of his actually arises from the fact that he is “a murderer from the beginning.” Accusing is simply a subtle form of murder. Its purpose is to kill relationships.
The Chaldeans are simply “about their father’s business.” People debate whether the Chaldeans just happened to notice the guys not bowing and so they run in to “tattle” on them, or if perhaps they knew it likely they wouldn’t bow and so were watching for a chance to accuse them. Others suggest this is no different than later in the book when the same group gets the king to issue a decree specifically so they could accuse Daniel. Perhaps they were behind this idol thing from the very beginning? Haman did the same thing in the book of Esther. Any one of the above may be true, but they all have one thing in common – accusing. Hateful, mean-spirited, cruel accusing. Slander. Gossip. Mouths “set on fire by hell.”
I think this as good a place as any to just be honest and recognize this is the world you and I live and work in. Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to, one of their favorite subjects is bashing other people. Men bash their wives to each other. Women bash their husbands to each other. Get two workers together and they can bash on their boss or one of their co-workers. Get two church-people together and they bash on the pastor or on their fellow church-members. It is as common as the sunrise. But it arises from the same smoking pit that motivated these Chaldeans – hell. God is love. God says all that matters is love. God is not a murderer. He is a Redeemer. He doesn’t tear things down. He builds them up. God doesn’t destroy relationships. He encourages them.
As far back as Leviticus 19:16, He told His people, “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.” Prov 11:12 tells us, “With their words, the godless destroy their friends …” In Eph 4:29, Paul tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” We should be using our mouths to build people’s relationships, not destroy them. I’m always blessed by the story of Saul and Jonathan in I Sam 19:4-7 where Saul had resolved to kill David, but Jonathan goes to him and reminds him of all the good David had done for him. In that particular case, Saul actually listened and brought David back. All it took was one person speaking well of another and a broken relationship was restored (even if only temporarily in that case). Truly, “life and death are in the power of the tongue.”
Just like the world Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to live and work in, our world is sadly an almost constant stream of negativity, slander, gossip, put downs, and anything and everything it takes to destroy each other’s relationships. It will happen to us at work and at church and in our families and neighborhoods. It shouldn’t surprise us. What is really important is that we don’t join them. God help us to be people who sincerely try to speak well of others, to be people who strive to encourage other people’s relationships, not tear them down. One Christian man recently said, if he ever hears one person say something nice about another person, he goes and tells them. “Did you know so and so said this about you? Wasn’t that nice?” He’s doing the exact opposite of the devil and, in our story, his minions the Chaldeans.
I honestly think, in our workplaces in particular, this is one of the things that ought to make us noticeably different than everyone else – that we are the ones who have something “nice” to say about others, that we are the ones who encourage people to respect each other and appreciate each other’s strengths, to be patient with each other’s weaknesses, to actually like each other!
May we be redeemers, not accusers!