I am a little behind on posting this because I had a very busy week last week, but I just wanted to share The Derision of Heaven by Michael Whitworth. I had previously read and reviewed The Epic of God, Whitworth’s book on Genesis, and since I enjoyed that book so much, I made sure to check out The Derision of Heaven, which focuses on the Book of Daniel.
If anything, I think I liked Derision even more than Epic. Part of this may have been because I read it in paperback rather than a digital version (I am old school when it comes to reading), but it was a really good book, and possessed the same tandem of qualities that made its predecessor such a joy to read as well: a balance between style and substance. By that, I mean that the book is very readable while still being very well-researched.
Before I get into the good stuff (sharing my favorite quotations), let me just add one point. The Book of Daniel is 12 chapters long. The first six chapters consist of relatively straightforward historical narrative, while the last six are filled with wild apocalyptic prophecy. Based on those last six chapters, all sorts of people have predicted all sorts of things, usually with little success. One of the things I appreciated most about this book was the author’s humility in interpreting these difficult passages while still covering them thoroughly and repeatedly emphasizing their main theme: God is at work behind the scenes, and is in control of the universe.
Now, on to the quotations (with my comments in brackets):
“As long as God lives and reigns, his people have hope. Christians should never fear the state; the book of Daniel assures us God has numbered the days of every wicked leader who wields power irresponsibly.” (6)
“Whether in times of disaster or disorientation, we can navigate turbulent waters, not by being the strongest, savviest, or most obnoxious, but by being faithful to God and bringing him glory as Daniel did.” (25)
“Being a light in the darkness doesn’t require our being a burr under the saddle.” (27)
“To pretend that our own political leaders hold office by the will of the people and not also by the will of God is to foolishly assume that these two things are mutually exclusive. They are not.” (38)
“Our personal talents and abilities matter less than our humble willingness to be used by God for his glory.” (39)
“Empires and superpowers rise and fall at God’s will. It’s this realization that causes me to be quite concerned about those Christians who seem prouder to be an American than a member of the church, God’s eternal kingdom, one that cannot be shaken…it’s not a sin to be a patriot unless patriotism becomes your idol. I wonder if some Christians aren’t bigger fans of the Constitution than the gospel.” (48-49) [I agree with his concern and frustration. Many who claim to be Christians take to social media with more passion over some political issue than they ever show on behalf of Christ. Sad but true.]
“Our attitude and behavior when under trial is a powerful testimony to the glory and love of God.” (65)
“In God’s way of working, progress and success often occur so slowly that they are unobservable.” (98)
“I want you to appreciate the tension that exists between “God can” and “God will.” We live our lives within that tension. We know God can do something about our suffering, but will he? In this tense area of in-between is where Satan thrives. In this soil, he plants seeds of doubt in our hearts and nurtures them until they have borne the ugly fruit of indignation, rebellion, and death. But there is something we can place in that gap to frustrate Satan’s schemes—not faith in God’s deliverance, for he does not always do so, but confidence that God will do what’s ultimately best for us. God always does whatever will bring him glory, and God glorifying himself is what is ultimately best for us.” (111) [This is such an important idea, I think, that I gave it its own post. The sooner we can understand and embrace this tension, the better it will be for our spiritual maturity and our own peace of mind.]
“You and I would be better off if we spent less time worrying about gun control, runaway deficit spending, and where/how long the president spends his vacation. We would be better served worrying less about how Liberals, Conservatives, Muslims, Atheists, or others not like us are destroying America. Instead, how would things be different if we confessed daily that Jesus, even now, held dominion over all the earth? What would it look like if we spent more time urging people to willingly kneel before King Jesus now before being compelled to do so on the final day? What would it look like if more Christians spent less time griping about earthly empires destines for history’s trash heap, and celebrated instead Jesus’ indestructible and eternal kingdom?” (132) [This is kind of a soapbox, but a much needed one. I completely agree with him.]
“In the dark days that lie ahead, let us resolve to fight God’s way, not the world’s way.” (185)
Hopefully, these quotations give you a taste of the book, and make you want to get a copy to read yourself. It would be an invaluable resource for anyone preparing to teach or preach on Daniel, but also beneficial for personal Bible study as well.