We live in a day of unparalleled opportunity. Never before has the mass of humanity had the abundance of knowledge, technology, and wealth that it has available to it today. Has this resulted in paradise? No. In fact, if the United States may be taken as a sampling, we might be tempted to say the opposite has taken place. An alarming number of people are wandering through life convinced they have no purpose. Meanwhile, the traditional family is in decline, and society as a whole grows increasingly polarized over issues as fundamental as human dignity and gender.
“Who will I worship?” is the most important question of our daily lives. Regardless of our opinions and assertions, the gods we choose inevitably are enthroned as our authority, becoming our point of reference for every decision we make. Idolatry is deadly because no amount of knowledge, tools, and wealth can help a person whose point of reference is, in fact, a falsehood. To those who choose themselves as their own reference—their chief authority—these apparent advantages prove to be disastrous.
Only a being that is inherently true and possesses unlimited power and wisdom can fully know and accurately evaluate the multitude of complexities that make up daily life. Daniel understood this. His parents, who named him Daniel (which means “God is my Judge”), must have taught him that only the unchanging God who exists above and apart from him could rightly understand his circumstances and guide him into blessing. This conviction was witnessed in Daniel from an early age and served him well in a city and civilization much like our own.
Babylon of Daniel’s day was the political, academic, artistic, and social center of the world—the epitome of what humanity could do and be. This city of knowledge, elegance, and splendor offered influence and privilege to those who worshiped it. Daniel lived in the very epicenter of idolatry; yet, far from being assimilated, he challenged and transformed the culture simply by living what he knew to be true day after day, no matter what. For this reason alone, the Book of Daniel is a must-read for anyone who desires to live for Christ in this age of affluence and arrogance.