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The Main Message of Daniel

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By David Sheldon

Last Updated: April 22, 2024

The Book of Daniel

The Old Testament Book of Daniel is filled with prophetic content. So much so that an entire genre of literature known as “apocalyptic” has emerged from it. Apocalyptic literature uses images and symbols to describe future events. Although the Book of Daniel has numerous prophecies, it has only one main message.

Sometimes apocalyptic literature (also found in the Book of Revelation) can be difficult to interpret and understand. However, the Book of Daniel has wonderful order and organization that help us understand its main message. We will see this in the flowchart and parallel themes chart provided.

Also, check out What Are the Seventy Weeks of Daniel and The Chronology of Daniel.

Background to Daniel

The author of the Book of Daniel is none other than the prophet himself (Matthew 24:15). Daniel wrote the book during the Babylonian captivity (605-539 B.C.).

Daniel’s name means “God is my judge” and Daniel knew that to be true. He was a faithful and dedicated man of God. This is evident when he did not defile himself with the King’s food (Daniel 1:8) and refused to pray to Darius (Daniel 6). Daniel desired to seek God in prayer and carefully interpreted the visions he received (Daniel 2:17-18).

Daniel also carefully laid out his book. He organized it in a very diligent manner, recording similar concepts in a parallel fashion. This is very helpful in seeing Daniel’s main message – the power and sovereignty of God, even over evil! This overarching theme is displayed in the book’s unusual visions, dreams, and prophecies; as well as the unique stories of fidelity to God in the face of persecution and suffering.

Flowchart & Parallel Themes

The multiple stories found in Daniel correlate with one another. For example, the following chapters correspond, and this relation is shown in the flowchart below.

    • Chapters 1 and 12
    • Chapters 2,7,8,11
    • Chapters 3 & 6
    • Chapters 4 & 5
    • Chapters 9 & 10
Flowchart of the Book of Daniel

 

Chapter 1 shows the captivity of God’s people in history (Babylon) while chapter 12 shows the great liberation of God’s people into His kingdom at the end of the age.

Chapters 2, 7, 8, 11 reveal four great beasts (the earthly kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome) that will be set against God’s people. A final beast will be destroyed and God’s kingdom will be ushered in.

Chapters 3 & 6 explain the false worship that Daniel was confronted with and his faith to withstand. He keeps his allegiance to the only true and living God, revealed in Scripture, who was to be worshiped. (Revelation 13 gives a future glimpse of a coming false worship that will be similar and will try the patience and faithfulness of God’s people.)

Chapters 4 & 5 tell the story of two rulers, Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, whom a sovereign God brought under His judgments. This is a clear foreshadowing of the reality that all will be judged by God’s sovereign hand. There is no hiding from Him who sees all.

Chapters 9 & 10 comfort Daniel when he is reassured of God’s provision and protection of His people. He first is visited by the angel Gabriel who reveals the “70 weeks of Daniel.” Then there is the appearance of a man who reveals to Daniel that God and His angels are in the battle for His people and against the powers of this evil world.

Parallel Themes and Main Message of Daniel

 

At this point, we should note the events of Daniel are not in chronological order. The actual chronology is chapters 1-4, 7-8, 5-6, 9-12. Notice that chapters 5-6 and chapters 7-8 are flip-flopped with each other. You can see the full timeline with known dates and events on The Chronology of Daniel page.

Daniel’s Main Message

Now that we have seen the major themes of each chapter, we can conclude that the main message of Daniel is God is sovereign over everything! He does and will continue to work all things toward establishing His kingdom overall and specifically for His people.

This sovereignty of God can be seen from the very onset of the book. Daniel 1:1 says “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem, but God was sovereignly at work because it immediately states: “And the Lord handed Jehoiakim king of Judah over to him…” Daniel 1:2 (See 2 Chronicles 36:5-8). This should give us confidence and reassurance that God is sovereign over each of us even when it seems like He’s not working to our benefit! Like Psalm 103:19 says, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.”

We also see God’s sovereignty clearly in chapters 2, 7, 8, and 11 when Daniel relates his dreams and visions, and they so carefully predict how the kingdoms of this world will unfold. Many prophecies,  written during the sixth-century B.C., find incredibly accurate fulfillment in past history. Some are yet to be fulfilled and God will perfectly carry them out according to Scripture!

Next, we see God’s sovereignty in His judgments of Kings Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar in chapters 4 & 5. (To consider the identity of Belshazzar: Belshazzar on Bible Hub) We see His sovereign protection over His own people in chapters 3 & 6 during two different kingdoms: Babylonian (Nebuchadnezzar) and Medo-Persian (Darius). (To consider the identity of Darius the Mede: Darius in the Bible – Got Questions. To further research the historical complexities of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede: Historical Evidence of Belshazzar & Darius the Mede – BibleHistory.net)

So even amid trouble, God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! (Romans 8:28) Does the book of Daniel reassure you of this? It should.

Further, in chapters 9 & 10, Daniel steps out in faith to inquire of God and His provisions for the future of His people. He was not only told of God’s provisions but also God’s protections. God had/has a sovereign plan for Israel as seen in the 70 weeks of Daniel, and God is present and sends help for His own, even via angels, in the midst of every battle that is waged. Can the people of God bring glory to Him in trusting that the provisions and the battle are really His? Can you?

And of course, Daniel 12 ends with the perseverance of God’s people at the end of this present evil age and the reality that – God will win in the end! Are you ready?

This article was originally published on March 25, 2022.

For Further Study on Daniel

Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament Ezekiel & Daniel, Volume 9, p. 597-606 & 617-622 – Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, March 2006.

The Chronology of Daniel – By David Sheldon
What Are the Seventy Weeks of Daniel? – By David Sheldon
Daniel’s End Time Prophecies – By David Sheldon

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