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Why Daniel? | The Church Is in Disrepute

Who is Jesus Christ? What is Christianity? And what is it not? And does it even matter anymore? These questions have taken on renewed significance in our day when so much touts itself as true Christian teaching and practice. From faith-healing to code-following; from gender-neutrality to the Ku Klux Klan; from relativism to reactionism; from monasticism to political activism—is there anything that does not profess to be Christian? How should one live in a day when the term Christian applies to everything and nothing at the same time?

Crises of identity are not new to those who know and seek God. Similar questions were asked in David’s time (Ps. 11:1–3; compare to 1 Sam. 2:12–4:22). The complete failure of the priesthood and the monarchy of David’s day left Israel adrift amidst a host of spiritual and physical enemies. Four centuries later the prophet Jeremiah could describe a state of spiritual bankruptcy so acute that little remained to be done but completely remove Israel from its place as God’s witness on the earth: “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the ends comes?” (Jer. 5:30–31).

Daniel was born into this society and was raised in this spiritual climate. By his young adulthood, Jerusalem, its temple, its prophets, and its crown were far to the west of him, soon to be destroyed by a third and final Babylonian siege. Did the name Israelite mean anything now that Israel had forfeited its name, been forsaken by God, and been removed from the land (Gen. 32:28; Hos. 1; Jer. 5:19)? Was there sense and strength to live for God with neither sacrifice nor temple in a land of idols? Israel’s story foreshadows and describes our own failure as the Church who “have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).

The Book of Daniel holds essential insight for those who desire to go on for Christ in spite of the aftermath of this failure.


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