The book of Daniel is both familiar and unfamiliar to most of us.
The stories of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, and Daniel in the lion’s den, fill the pages of many Bible story books and Sunday school classes. These stories are not just familiar to us but also loved and cherished. The rest of the book is filled with visions, prophesies and apocalyptic language thus less understood or familiar.
Most of us have been encouraged to read them as stories that embolden us ‘to be a Daniel’, to live for Christ in a hostile and dark world. That is indeed part of their purpose; they provide models for us on how to live in an alien world as well as how we can both serve the culture in which we find ourselves in and, at the same time, live lives that are distinctive from that culture.
They encourage us to remain faithful, no matter what the cost.
Yet, the reality is that few of us can really claim to come close to the standard set for us by Daniel and his friends.
In one way or another we have all been compromised by the the pressures of our world. We are far more like the nameless multitudes who were deported with Daniel and were assimilated to the world system around them.
The main message of this book is not ‘to be like Daniel’.
The book is about God; about God’s sovereignty; about His faithfulness; about His promises; about His love and mercy…. and surprisingly, within its pages, we find the Gospel.
The good news of the Gospel is not that God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. The good news is that a Saviour came to deliver faithless and compromised people like ourselves from a hopeless situation.
Our salvation rests, not on our ability to remain undefiled by the world, but rather, on the pure and undefiled offering that Jesus has provided in our place.
by John Stoici