Theme: I believe the theme of Daniel can be summed up with two quotes:
“Its theme is to show how, by His providential guidance, His miraculous interventions, His foreknowledge and almighty power, the God of heaven controls and directs the forces of nature and the history of nations, the lives of Hebrew captives and of the mightiest of the kings of the earth, for the accomplishment of His divine and beneficent plans for His servants and people.” – Robert Dick Wilson
“In Daniel we have the revelation of the power and wisdom of the Lord God in the government of the world to the end of the days.” – G. Campbell Morgan Date: Daniel covers about 72-75 years – from the third year of King Jehoiakim (1:1, 2) to the third year of Cyrus (10:1). (approximately 606-536 B.C.)
Author: Daniel (lit.) “God is my Judge”, was a statesman of integrity in the court/service of heathen kings. Captured as a young person by Nebuchadnezzar in 605, he remained for the rest of his life a government official and a prophet of the true God. Though Jesus Christ Himself identified Daniel as a prophet, since he never “officially” occupied the prophetic office, this book authored by him, is found in the third division of the Hebrew Bible, “The Writings” rather than in the second “The Prophets”.
Daniel was a man “greatly beloved” (9:23; 10:11). As a prophet, he lived during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius and Cyrus but unlike the other prophets did not go around saying, “thus says the Lord.” Instead, he was primarily an interpreter of dreams, riddles, and in fact was the recipient of many visions himself. As a person, Daniel is spoken of, as a wise and righteous man (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; 28:3), was among the first of the Jewish captives carried to Babylon (1:1, 3, 6), and was prominently used of God in both the Babylonian and Persian kingdoms.
Addressee’s: Not specifically stated. An interesting note is that Daniel 2:4-7:28 is written in Aramaic. This was the language used by the Babylonians at that time, so it seems to be clear that at least this portion of the book was intended to be read by the Babylonians as well as by the Israelites. The rest of the book is written in Hebrew and is intended especially for the people of Israel.
Purpose: The book of Daniel presents that time in history when Jerusalem was under the control of the Gentiles and not in its right place before God. Marked by the rise and fall of the four great Gentile powers, three of these are named as Babylon, Media-Persia and Greece. The fourth is implied as the power that followed Greece, which was Rome. This period will come to a close after the last world power has a man over it, totally against God and against the people of Israel. This person will be destroyed by God Himself, and then God’s kingdom will be established on the earth.
Highlights: I divide this section into two sub-sections. Not only is the book of great interest, but the person of Daniel, edifies and encourages.
The Book of Daniel
1) This book is referred to a number of times in the New Testament. In fact, material from every chapter in Daniel is either quoted or alluded to in Revelation, and only two chapters in Revelation are without some historical background in Daniel.
2) Daniel 12:2-3 stands out as the clearest Old Testament reference to the resurrection of the dead.
3) The key Old Testament passage speaking of Jesus’ application of the term “son of man” to Himself is found in Daniel 7:13.
4) Some of the most well-known stories in the Old Testament are found in Daniel, specifically concerning Daniel’s three friends in the fiery furnace (ch. 3), Daniel in the lion’s den (ch. 6), the humbling of Nebuchandezzar (ch. 4) and Belshazzar’s party, complete with the handwriting on the wall (ch. 5).
5) This book also contains some of the most detailed and far-reaching prophesies found anywhere in the Word of God. For instance, we have the four great world powers of Gentile dominion, the coming of the time of trouble upon the earth, the coming of a man to head up the last world power before the coming of Christ, the coming of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom, the time of the 70 weeks of Israel that sets the stage for the time period of the great tribulation and the resurrection of the righteous from the nation of Israel are just some of the major prophetic revelations in this book.
6) Being consistent with the theme, we see some key words occurring in this book. For instance, “king” occurs 183 times and “kingdom” occurs 55 times.
The Man, Daniel
1) His life was marked by constant prayer, (chs. 2, 6, 9, 10).
2) His life was guided by a continual, enduring, on-going study of God’s Word (9:1-2).
3) He was a man who had a consistent testimony of life (ch. 6) and an on-going testimony of lip (chs. 2, 4, 5).
4) I believe that one of the great highlights of this man’s life was that he was dedicated to keeping himself pure for God. (1:8). If I had to pick a key verse from this book and from this man’s life, it would be 1:8. Having purposed in his heart, history and Scripture reveal to us that he was faithful, not only in beginning his walk with God, but in ending his walk with God. In fact, an interesting note is that he made this purpose as a young man and found himself in a lion’s den in his early 80;s. truly this man is worth not only our study and appreciation, but also our emulation.
5) The testimony of his life ~ “Faithful to his God”.
I. Historical Section (chs. 1-6)
* Daniel speaks in the third person.
II. Prophetic Section (chs. 7-12)
* Daniel speaks in the first person.
“In 605 Nebuchadnezzar took Daniel and others as captives to Babylon. Because of the events recorded in chapter 2 of the book, Daniel was given a place of prominence and responsibility in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. After the king’s death, Daniel apparently fell from favor, but was recalled to interpret the writing that appeared at Belshazzar’s feast (5:13). He was made one of three presidents under Darius (6:1) and lived until the third year of Cyrus (536). His ministry was to testify, in his personal life and in his prophecies, to the power of God. Though in exile, the people of Israel were not deserted by God, and Daniel revealed many details about His plan for their future. He also traced the course of Gentile world powers from his own day to the second coming of Christ.
Important prophecies in the book include the course of Gentile kingdoms (the future of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, chaps. 2 and 7), details concerning Medo-Persia and Greece (chap. 8), more details concerning Greece (chap. 11), the prophecy of the seventy weeks of years (9:24-27), and the activities of Antichrist (11:36-45). Among the doctrines mentioned in the book are: personal separation (1:8; 3:12;6:10;9:2-3; 10:2-3); angels (8:16; 9:21; 10:13, 20-21; 11:1); resurrection (12:2); Antichrist (7:24-25; 9:27; 11:36). Favorite stories include those of: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (chap. 3), and the lions; den (chap. 6).” – Ryrie Study Bible