The last 100 years have been a time of great global turmoil. Politically speaking, the great empires that dominated Europe at the turn of the 20th century are no longer there today. The Communist powers that sparked a global arms race during the Cold War have died. Yet their absence has been filled with Muslim theocracies that present as much a threat, if not bigger threat to the West than any Communist nation ever could. Even our own nation which possesses more wealth and power than any nation to ever exist has become crippled by greed and unsustainable debt that will one day bring us to our knees.
Our generation has seen the advent of terrible diseases like AIDS in the 1980’s and Ebola in the 1970’s. We are still constantly warned of pandemic outbreaks of things like the H1N1 Swine Flu, or H5N1 Avian Flu. That doesn’t even begin to touch the cancers that seem to plague so many or the other deadly genetic diseases that seem to be on the rise. In spite of the billions of dollars spent in research and development of new drugs and treatments, it seems that when a disease is cured it is simply replaced with one that is even deadlier.
In the last month, we have seen fires in Southern California, floods in North Georgia, tsunami’s in American Samoa, earthquakes in Indonesia. Who even wants to venture to speculate what tomorrow holds?
It is in this context of great global unrest that we will be approaching the book of Daniel for the next three months. This is the message that is at the heart of Daniel. Even when the world appears to be spinning out of orbit, God maintains tight control. Nothing that is going on today from evil despots to raging floods is outside of the control of the hand of God. God will accomplish his purposes, even from the hands of those who oppose Him.
We will quickly see that the book of Daniel addresses two very different groups of people. For the righteous, Daniel reminds us that our resolve must be greater now than ever before. It is during these times of great uncertainty that our commitment to God must be certain. It must be so certain that we would be willing to be thrown into a furnace before we would be willing to compromise our values or bring reproach to the name of Jesus. It must be so certain that we would stare down a den of hungry lions with nothing but the Holy Spirit to protect us. Daniel reminds the people of God that it is possible to be an influence for righteousness’ sake even when the whole world says otherwise. In times like this, the whole world is watching to see how we respond. How will you respond?
For the unrighteous, there is also a clear message, “Remember who’s in charge.” God is able to get your attention in any way necessary, even if it means writing you a message on the wall. We’ve seen it in our own day, and it has been repeated since the world began, but nations will rise and nations will fall. Nations will conquer other nations and nations will be conquered. We would do well to remember that there is no coup or siege that can move God from his throne. There is no enemy that will not be finally and utterly defeated.
So, the line that was drawn in the book of Daniel remains drawn today. On which side do you stand? There is only one way to stand on the side of righteousness and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing else gives us the privilege to stand on the side of victory.