Daniel’s life and ministry covered the entire seventy years of the Babylonian captivity. Deported to Babylon at approximately age sixteen and handpicked for government service, Daniel became God’s prophetic mouthpiece to the Gentile and Jewish world, declaring God’s present and eternal purpose. Daniel, a Hebrew, became prime minister of Babylon and worked for at least three kings: Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius. His inspired work quotes both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius as declaring that Daniel’s God is the living and true Lord of all.
The name Daniyeʾl or Daniʾel means “God is my Judge.” The Greek form Daniel in the Septuagint is the basis for the Latin and English titles.
The Book of Daniel details the life and prophecies of one of God’s most trusted servants. It includes more fulfilled prophecy than any other book in the Bible and earns the endorsement of Christ Himself (Matt. 24:15). Several of the book’s twelve chapters revolve around dreams, including God-given visions involving trees, animals, beasts, and images.
While many of the accounts in Daniel are retold in children’s books, those accounts are too important and relevant to relegate exclusively to the pages of childhood literature. To be sure, Daniel in the lion’s den—just like Daniel’s description of the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, or the disembodied hand that spells doom for a Bablyonian despot—is a spectacular and colorful account. But what stands out is that a sovereign, omnipotent God consistently and swiftly reacts to the earnest prayers of his faithful servants.
Daniel prophesied the coming of many key historical figures, from Christ to Alexander the Great to Cleopatra. Daniel’s famous “seventieth week” (9:27) describes the ancestry, rise, and fall of the antichrist, and the glorious Second Coming of Christ. The Book of Daniel is often seen as a companion to the New Testament Book of Revelation, largely because both contain a great deal of mysterious prophetic imagery and because Revelation draws upon much of Daniel’s imagery.
Themes: God rules over the affairs of men, and no one can derail His plans or stop Him from acting. He is absolutely sovereign.
Time: During and shortly after the seventy-year Babylonian captivity of Judah (c. 605–530 B.C.).
Structure: The first six chapters of Daniel cover the personal biographies of several key characters, plus some local history. The second six chapters cover visions and prophecies concerning God’s controlling hand in the affairs of men.
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Da.