We begin the New Year with a new sermon series on the book of Daniel. I’ve been waiting a long time for this one! The stories of the Old Testament have a way of engaging our interest, capturing our hearts, and changing our lives. The story of Daniel has a unique way of doing that.
In his classic book, Knowing God, J. I. Packer says this about the book of Daniel: “What effects does knowledge of God have on a person? Various sections of Scripture answer this question from different points of view, but the most clear and striking answer of all is provided by the book of Daniel.” Packer goes on to list four ways that a growing knowledge of God (as revealed in Daniel) will change us.
1. Those who know God will have great energy for God.
“The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32). There is no place for complacency in the Christian life. My prayer for our church is that we will see where God is working and act on it.
2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
Packer says this about how the story of Daniel will lift our thoughts about God: “Suffice it to say that there is, perhaps, no more vivid or sustained presentation of the many-sided reality of God’s sovereignty in the whole Bible.” As we immerse ourselves in the story of Daniel, we will all realize that our thoughts of God have been way too small!
3. Those who know God will show great boldness for God.
We tend to be risk-averse, but Daniel and his friends took great risks because they knew God. Just think about Daniel 3, when defiance of the king results in being thrown into the fiery furnace!
4. Those who know God have great contentment in God.
“There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God’s favor to them in life, through death, and on forever.” (Packer) It’s often difficult to rest in God in our crazy world, and our hearts need to be drawn to the knowledge of the God of Daniel.
We can’t do any of this in our own strength. That’s why—most of all—we want to see Jesus in the book of Daniel.
When self-righteousness is the default mode of our hearts, we might “dare to be a Daniel” by emulating his courage, but this is to miss the point. When we see in Daniel a greater Daniel, the Lord Jesus Christ, then our hearts will be reset to "gospel mode" so we can press on in obedience, relying on God's grace and faithfulness rather than our own strength.
To see the grace of Jesus in this way, let’s place the sermon series in the context of the entire worship service each Sunday. The gospel-rich songs, the responsive readings from Psalms, the times of confession and gospel assurance—all of these tune our hearts the music of the gospel story that will be revealed in the book of Daniel.
Mike Tilley is the senior pastor of Lake Baldwin Church, and has lived in Orlando since 1994. He and his wife, Molly, worked with a core group from the Baldwin Park community to plant Lake Baldwin Church in 2006. Mike loves teaching the Bible in a way that relates to real life. In his spare time, Mike enjoys good movies, long dinner with friends, snow skiing, hanging out with his kids and two granddaughters, and travel.