Have you been accused? Do you believe you're guilty or not guilty? Why?
"At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar,"
“May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”
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In the Expanded Bible can we read "ate pieces of", which corresponds to "flay someone" in English. Other versions remark "maliciously accused" to render "ate pieces of" from Aramaic "akhálu kartsehón", which NIV has rendered "denounced". The Chaldeans (not necessarily "astrologers" in the original) didn't exactly "denounce" the Jews but rather "slandered" them maliciously. In this slander, when they say "pay no attention to you", in the Aramaic text we read "lo sámu aláyik malká teém", wich can be rendered "they have not obey your royal decree". Any way, let's observe that we are in presence of an ACCUSATION of the Chaldeans against the JEWS, probably because of envy against them, due to their promotion in chapter two, which they allude to in their speech.
Let's remember what's been happening up to now. The king has set up an image of gold, 88 x 8,8 feet, he has called officials from every sphere of the government and he has ordered them to postrate and worship that image, listening to the music. In the previous message we had defined this as "idolatry". The Jews refused to take part in this idolatry (we don't read it directly in the text, but we can infer it when we read the conversations of the king with them and with the Chaldeans)
Why do you think that Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah refused to adore the golden image?
Observe that we emphasize their Jewish names, because they were Jews when they arrived to Babylonia and they remained Jews all their lives, in spite of the efforts to "Babylonize" them - changing their names, for instance. We call "Jews" the persons who belong to the people of Israel. And that "Israel", which is the name of a nation nowadays, was in the begining the name of a man, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, which life's history can be read in Genesis, from chapter 25 and forward.
But the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham was not called Israel from his birth. The name he got at his birth was Jacob, which means "supplanter", or "heel-catcher" (he was born as his brother Esau's twin, grasping him by the heel) Some incidents in his life show his quality of deceiver and swindler. He took advantage of his brother hunger to deprive him from the birthright, in exchange "for a lentil stew" (Gn 25:29-34) He deceived also his father to get the firstborn blessing (Gn 27:1-46) and used tricks to become richer with his uncle's herds (Gn 30:39-43)
Jacob is an excellent example of the work of God with every imperfect human being. In spite of his human weaknesses, God's call and choice was firm for him throughout his whole life, and these was for him a motive of faith and of obedience to the God of his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham. From Gn 28:10-19, when God reveals himself to Jacob in a dream in which he renews his covenant that he had promised to his ancestors, to the altars he set up and his vows (Gn 28:18, 20-22; Gn 33:16-20) and ending with the final prophecy with which he blessed his som before he died (Gn 49:1-28) Jacob's life was changed because of his relationship with God and because of the faith that God gave him in this relationship. The one who began as a "supplanter" and swindler ended as a prophet and a man of God, who changed his name to "Israel" ("God strives" or "God overcomes") because "he had struggled with God and with humans and had overcome".
Observe that God changed Jacob. He made him "righteous", transforming him from a swindler to a prophet. The family of Jacob, which came to Egypt in the book of Genesis, came out from that land in the book of Exodus as a numerous people. A people which received from Moses God's Law, to lead their lives and to justify them in case of sin through a system of animal sacrifices. Their righteousness was conditioned by their obedience to God, avoiding idolatry or repenting in case of fall and turning back to God.
Maybe you are wondering, what's the relation between Sadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego's justification and ours? Who's accusing us?
Those Jewish young men confronted the accusation of the Chaldeans and the wrath of king Nebuchadnezzar. But remember that everything we go through in the visible world is just a result of a spiritual one. The Scriptures shows us that we live - spiritually speaking - in a constant "trial". We think, talk or act in every moment in a "good" or in an "evil" way. Observe that "good" and "evil", even when they are real and absolute, are in quotation marks, because we don't grasp them always in the right way. In order that we shall feel "condemnation" we are deceived so that "good" and "evil" are "relative". Plainly speaking, Satan tries to show us that good things we do are evil ones, or viceversa. As he did with Adam and Eve, the same thing he did with those three men in Babylonia. He accused God in his conversation with Eve, and led her to sin - and Adam with her - so they felt themselves "condemned" and hid from God. But his accusation against Daniel's friends didn't succeeded. He lost that trial.
Who are the actors in this unending "trial"? How can we escape condemnation, and be declared "not guilty"?
We all know that in a trial there are at least three professional jurists and the accused (or the accused ones) The jurists are called the judge, the prosecutor and the lawyer (prosecution and defense) The prosecutor wants to show that the accused is guilty, the defender wants to show that he is not guilty, and the judge is in the midst of them to declare the final verdict. In this story we are talking about, the prosecutors were the Chaldeans; the judge, king Nebuchadnezzar; the defender... well, let's wait to get there (keep reading!) In a broader sense, the Word of God shows us that God is the Judge of the Universe (Genesis 18:25; Psalms 50:6; Isaiah 33:22; Daniel 7:10, 26; Hebrews 12:23) Satan is the prosecutor (Revelation 12:10) and Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Defender (1st John 2:1-2)
Does it happen to you that someone accuses you and makes you feel bad, when you are doing good? The source of this phenomenon is Satan. The evil one used the Chaldeans to accuse before the king those who were doing well (refusing to take part in idolatry) He will use any unjust person to make you feel condemned, or he will put in your heart a spirit of confusion so that you can't discern good and evil, and you'll feel bad doing good or viceversa. Then when you take a look at yourself, you feel condemned.
How can we escape that condemnation?
Read Revelation 12:10-11
"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:"
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down."
"They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."
This text gives us certainty about our victory over the accuser:
1) Do not give up! God rewards good and punishes evil. Even the civil authorities - which God has set up - are supposed to do the same. If you're been accused in spite of doing good, don't care about the "authority" of the accuser; it's a satanic one.
2) Do not justify yourself. The evil one is far more experienced than us, and it will be impossible to convince him with reasons (he knows he's misleading us into confusion so that we do evil)
3) Observe Revelation 12:11. The blood of Christ, that he shed on the cross of Calvary, has the power to justify us before God. In the same way, our "word of testimony" (not justifying ourselves, but confessing our faith) Finally, trust God! The faith works for those who make use of it. God will finally justify the one who doesn't justify himself, but who does good and waits in Him and from Him the recognition of this good.
If you have not yet received Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me tell you that condemnation is a real thing. It damages your soul throughout your life on earth, causing you to live in sin because of ignorance or confusion about good and evil. And it damages your soul even more on eternity, closing before you the gates of Heaven. As Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah had a defender who delivered them from death, their brothers and systers in Revelation 12 overcame the "prosecutor", who "accused them before our God day and night", by trusting Jesus. Everyone who receives Christ is participant in His justice, because His blood was shed on the cross of Calvary to justify us. Remember the man Jacob, a swindler by nature, who was transformed in a holy prophet in God's hands. As the Lord justified him, He wants to do with all his sons. Receive Jesus Christ, and be free from condemnation!
May the Lord bless you!
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!