This book begins with a strong hook, expounding on the opening chapter of Daniel.
Imagine this young Hebrew, a worshipper of the Almighty God and a citizen of a oppressed nation. His intelligence and sensitivity mark him for his captors. They want to submerge him in their culture and seduce him with their philosophies. They're going to train him in all their arts and sciences and install him in the Babylonian court.
Right there you can feel Daniel's tension and hear the questions in his soul. "How will God preserve, redeem, and deliver His captive people? How will I serve Him and how can I trust Him when he allowed me to be torn away from my family and home?" It's black and white text on a page for us today, but for Daniel it was sweat and blood and sleeplessness.
Often, our time/space distance from Biblical events obscures both the relevance of the message and the humanity of the narrator. Oxford Professor John Lennox sets out to show us the book of Daniel in a new light, by revealing the significance of one life dedicated to God. By mining the book of Daniel for all the wisdom it contains, we can learn a great deal about how to live "against the flow" in our day.
How did Daniel hold fast to the faith of his fathers when he was totally surrounded by a pagan people?
How did he speak so courageously, and so winsomely, to guards and governors? He presented the truth unflinchingly, yet with utterly respect, and powerful men were moved to consider his minority position.
How did his personal fidelity fuel his counter-culture stance? We can see that he was a man of prayer, and he sought to close the gaps between his convictions and his integrity. Paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling, Daniel walked with crowds and kept his virtue, he talked with kings and didn't lose the common touch.
This man epitomized being "in the world and not of it."
We have no reason to believe that he was an unpleasant, bigoted person who condemned and shunned left and right. Instead, we see a steady witness, whose hard-words-softly-spoken were valued by the establishment of his day. We see a man who knew the score about the world he lived in, and who made his decisions with the character of God as his reality.
Indeed, there is much to learn from Daniel. And this book is a great start.... it's 400 plus pages of fascinating history that spans multiple empires and conquests and kingdoms, as well as commentary on how we can live today. Human dignity, the meaning of history, how to live as God's ambassadors, the nature of the kingdom of heaven, the reality of revelation, the power of predictive prophecy, the invasion of the supernatural into the natural, the synergy between mind and brain... all these concepts receive treatment in this book.
And the ultimate purpose of Daniel's Scriptures and Professor Lennox's scholarship is to point us to a living God, one who is intensely personal as He meets with his people, and who gives the centuries their meaning.
I'll close with a quote from the book of Daniel, CEB translation. This is God addressing Daniel: "Do not be afraid, man greatly beloved; all will be well with you. Be strong, be strong."
Thank you to Monarch Publishing and Litfuse Publicity Group for providing me a review copy. It was much appreciated.