If we hearken back to our Sunday School days and think about what we remember best from the book of Daniel, most of us would recall Daniel's trip to the lion's den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's ordeal in the fiery furnace. While all four of these men were heroic in their actions, the true hero of the Old Testament book of Daniel is not any of these men, but their God. In the Preface below, author Sean Michael Lucas invites readers to join him on a literary journey to learn more about Daniel's God and the full range of His character as found in the book of Daniel.
People tend to come to the Old Testament book that Daniel wrote for two reasons. One is because they are looking for a moral example to inspire them to stand for God in a godless world. These Christians hum the chorus to the Philip Bliss hymn, “Dare to be a Daniel! Dare to stand alone! Dare to have a purpose firm! Dare to make it known!” Or maybe, if they are from my generation, it might not be Bliss’s song, but the Christian musician Russ Taff’s “Not Gonna Bow.” Both generations’ songs express the idea that the world is evil and that Christians need to be moral leaders for their generation. In order to do so, there would be no greater example or hero than Daniel.
Another reason some people study Daniel is to find out more data about the end of time. At the Christian college that I attended, the Bible class that covered Daniel paired it with the book of Revelation; clearly, the reason to study Daniel, according to the way the curriculum was developed, was to consider its prophetic materials and to understand what will happen at the end of the world. And many Christians have spent a great deal of time thinking about Daniel 2, Daniel 7, and Daniel 9:24-27, and about how those texts fit into charts and graphs that explain the return of Christ, the tribulation, and the new heavens and earth.
However, neither reason – either moral example or biblical eschatology – is a good one for studying Daniel’s book. The reason why Christians throughout the world should study Daniel’s book is that Daniel teaches us a great deal about Daniel’s God. As we learn the various God-centered lessons that Daniel offers, we learn to trust God as our True and Only Hero. And our heroic God is presented in the full range of his character in Daniel: we see him as faithful and wise; as a Savior and a Sovereign; a God of judgment and power; a God who rules and who orders everything for his glory; a God of forgiveness and a God who fights for us. Above all, in each chapter, we will see that our God is a God of hope.
After all, our hope is not grounded in the fact that we can dare to be like Daniel. Our hope is grounded in the character of our great God who triumphs over all his and our enemies and who orders everything for our salvation. And this God’s character is displayed most clearly in his Son, Jesus, to whom Daniel, along with the rest of the Old Testament, points. As we take our hearts to the God who has come near to us in Jesus, we take our hearts to the only one who can save us, the only one who can satisfy us, the only one who can be our hero.
Thus, my prayer is that all those who study Daniel along with me will grow in faith, hope, and love as our eyes are raised to see how great and glorious and beautiful our God is.
Excerpted from Daniel: Trusting the True Hero by Sean Michael Lucas (Christian Focus, 2012)
Praise for Daniel: Trusting the True Hero:
"the skillful hands and pastoral heart of Sean Lucas graciously lead you to a different understanding of this book and its hero, an understanding of the mysterious and marvelous goodness of God and grace of Christ, the true hero. That's where we can put our trust".
-Stephen J Nichols ~ Research Professor of Christianity and culture, Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
"What can you expect from this book? Well, God-centered, Christ-focused, gospel-infused exposition for starters. In addition: textually driven, careful exposition based on a belief that every word of Scripture is Spirit-breathed; illustrative material that opens windows to fresh air and light; and passion - that those who read it will become aware of the riches of the gospel and the Spirit-filled, Jesus shaped lives that ought to be the pattern of all who, like Daniel, love the gospel and live as though they do"
-Derek Thomas ~ Minister of Preaching and Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina
"Sean Lucas' Daniel: Trusting the True Hero is a wonderful, engaging, God-centered treatment of the book of Daniel. His strong redemptive-historical approach keeps God's character and un-folding plan for His people central throughout. In both the narrative portions and the prophetic portions Sean helps the reader see the greatness of God and our need to trust Him in every circumstance we encounter. The focus on God as the true hero lifts the eyes of the reader beyond a great story and complicated prophecy to a personal encounter with the living God that is both accessible and devotional. I highly recommend this book for everyone from those studying Daniel for the first time to Bible study groups to long-term students of the book of Daniel."
-Mark L. Dalbey ~ VP of Academics & Faculty Development, Covenant Theological Seminary, St Louis, Missouri
About the Author:
Sean Lucas is the Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Prior to this, he was Chief Academic Officer and associate professor of church history at Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He received BA and MA degrees from Bob Jones University and the PhD degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. Sean is active in social media, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.