Over the last few posts we have considered four ways that our times parallel the days of Daniel, the prophet. People are desperately struggling for understanding and safety in a threatening deluge of information, ideologies, and isms. The Church has given way to the onslaught, yielding precious footing to the merciless waves. In the midst of the turmoil many are choosing to speak against Christ, the only One who stands unmoved in the catastrophe. Hopelessness and isolation have become the mainstays of a great many people who no longer have either the inward strength or the outward support to think or feel for themselves.
Isn’t it remarkable that the hallmark of our time—the decline of relationship—is also its least perceptible reality? How can a time of unparalleled technological progress and material wealth become the habitat of estranged and disenchanted hearts? The barren vacancy of our homes and hearts testifies to a reality beyond the material world and a deliverance that must not be sought through merely physical means. We are awash with information and opportunity but devoid of what we truly crave: compassion and counsel, healing and love. Our hearts cry out, “Is there someone willing to know me enough to truly understand the loss I am experiencing?”
The Book of Daniel is relevant to this epidemic of loneliness. Daniel and his friends lived in the aftermath of an age of affluence and entitlement that had corrupted the whole of society (Isa. 1; Jer. 7; 26). By the time Daniel was taken to Babylon, self-will had irreparably shattered the people of Israel, isolating vast numbers of people from their God and from one another (Jer. 9; Ezek. 13). Then came the Babylonians. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were torn from their families and culture, castrated, and branded with Babylonian identities that fit Nebuchadnezzar’s priorities. From all accounts they should have simply faded into the nameless background of facts and figures of Babylonian policy. Yet they grew more alive (Dan. 1:7), more compassionate (Dan. 2:14, 24), and more impactful in their relationships (Dan. 6:14–24). How can this be?