Our church did a series in the book of Daniel. I thought I was doing something “unique,” then I was talking with one of the other area pastors, and he had started the exact same series. As it turns out, even on the same Sunday. I guess unique is out the window.

From what I can tell, this is a fairly regular occurrence. You’ll find churches doing the same studies at the same times. All this without coordinated effort. I suspect the best way to explain it is that God is working in his usual mysterious ways and preparing his local church(es) for something. But what, and why Daniel?

Many people know Daniel for its end-time prophecies. We believe we are in the end times, but only God knows the exact timetable. However, since Scripture tells us we’ll never know exactly when, and since mere speculation presented as fact is discouraged, I suspect there’s a better answer to the question of why study Daniel. Something more concrete.

From my perspective, it’s because Daniel is incredibly relevant to our world today. Daniel was living in a land hostile to his sacred beliefs, and he was able to remain faithful his entire life. How’d he do it?

Furthermore, Daniel (along with a whole host of faithful Jews) had just seen his entire theology shattered. The God who acts was supposed to rescue his people from the evil Babylonians, and yet that didn’t happen. Why not? Why did God not defend his honor in his own temple? Daniel provides our certainty in a very uncertain world.

I asked the what and why questions earlier. The truth is I don’t have any definite answers to those particular questions. But I do confidently know in these uncertain times, and times of outright hostility toward Christian beliefs (certainly so on a nationwide scale), the book of Daniel is that friend who comes alongside and reminds us of the greatness of our God. It reminds us that God is, in fact, in control, despite the lion’s den, and the loss of a homeland, and a fiery furnace. If you haven’t read the book of Daniel in a few years, let me encourage you to “taste it again for the first time.”

The Rev. Mike Hellum is pastor of Westmark Evangelical Free Church in Phelps County.