“Though he prospered so remarkably in this strange and, to him, foreign culture, we were led to admire the fact that he maintained not only his personal piety and continued praying to his God, but he maintained his faith. The faith of Israel; that Israel was God’s chosen and elect people, carrying a special role in the world and given a glorious and unique gospel message to preach to the Gentiles. What a glorious message that was for Daniel to bear in that pagan Gentile court. There is hope for this world; there is coming a glorious time of peace and plenty and glory.
Our life’s experience is not meant to mock us; this world is not a deceit, it comes from the hand of God. The glories of creation around us are not sent to mock us; there is a future for this world. Though this world is marred at present, God has a redemption for it. The day is coming when creation herself shall be delivered from her bondage to corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:21 KJV).
Like Daniel, we are privileged to carry that glorious message of hope to our own contemporaries, who flounder in their humanism, atheism and general worldliness and ungodliness and have no ultimate hope. It is worthwhile noticing that, at this stage in history, this gospel message preached by Daniel (in the Old Testament and elaborated in the New) stands in marked contrast to other major religious faiths in the world. We need that observation nowadays, for there is a spirit abroad that advocates pluralism.
They say, ‘Let’s take the best out of all religions. Are not all religions different ways of climbing the same mountain, so it doesn’t matter whether you come up the northern face, or the southern face, the east or the west? If you persevere you will all come up the mountain and meet each other there. All the world religions are but different ways of climbing the same mountain and coming to the same pinnacle at the end.’
It sounds wonderful, but of course a moment’s thought is enough to show that it isn’t true and the great religious faiths of the world would be insulted if you took them so superficially. The only way to show respect for the great religious faiths of the world is to study them and take them seriously. If you do, you will find that there are irreconcilable differences and contradictions between Judaism and Christianity on the one hand, and, say, Hinduism on the other.
Hinduism, for the most part (although Hinduism is a name given to a whole collection of religions), holds that the material universe (and therefore, our bodies) is, if not unworthy, certainly less than the ideal. This material world was created by some lesser deity, who had not enough wisdom not to do it and went and created this rather demeaning world of matter, instead of leaving things as pure spirit. The ideal for each individual, therefore, is to pass through the cycle of existence as quickly as possible. Being born in this material world, you die and go out into the world of pure spirit; then, having been re-born by reincarnation into this material world, you go back again through death into the immaterial spiritual world. The individual’s wisdom would be to try and escape that endless cycle of re-birth and death; to escape from this material world into the great spirit world beyond.
As for human history, they say that human history in this world has no particular goal. It is like a wheel that simply goes round everlastingly in circles, getting absolutely nowhere: an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Therefore, the wisdom for each individual is to escape from the rim of the wheel (it doesn’t matter through which spoke) and try and get away from the material world into the refined essence of Nirvana, or whatever you would call it.
At once you will see that that stands in marked contrast to what Judaism and Christianity are saying. The Bible says that this material world around us is not an illusion. It is not unworthy; it is the very handiwork of God, the almighty Creator. When he created it he pronounced that it was good, and good it is. And not only the creation around us, but ourselves. Our human bodies are not things to be despised, to be run away from (as the Greek philosophers like Socrates used to say). Our human bodies are good.
It is true that creation has been marred by the rebellion of the creature; but still again the Old and New Testaments combine to tell us that God, in his great mercy, has a scheme of redemption for his creatures, from which springs new and everlasting hope. There is forgiveness and there is redemption. And not only forgiveness for our sins, but the very body of matter that we inhabit, says the Bible, shall one day be redeemed itself. Our blessed Lord’s bodily resurrection from the grave is but the firstfruits of a coming vast harvest. God will not be content to preserve our redeemed spirits, he is going to raise our redeemed bodies from the dead and make them like our Lord’s glorious body (Phil 3:21). And, not content with that, creation herself shall be delivered from her bondage to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:21).
God the Creator is not going to be defeated. He is not going to bring this planet to an end and say, ‘Sorry, it all went wrong and it is beyond my power to redeem it.’ God shall yet be victorious. There is hope and we have a gospel message to preach. In the words of the apostle, ‘According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Pet 1:3) . . . What a glorious gospel it was that Daniel, even in those far-off days, could bring to that highly developed civilization that, for all its sophistication, had no hope.”
David W. Gooding, Daniel: Civil Servant & Saint. (Coleraine, NI, UK: The Myrtlefield Trust, 2017), 21-23. [Italics original.] Download the entire work here.