According to Hebrew custom, the title is drawn from the prophet who throughout the book received revelations from God. Daniel bridges the entire 70 years of the Babylonian captivity (ca. 605–536 B.C.; cf. 1:1 and 9:1–3). Nine of the 12 chapters relate revelation through dreams/visions. Daniel was God’s mouthpiece to the Gentile and Jewish world, declaring God’s current and future plans. What Revelation is to the NT prophetically and apocalyptically, Daniel is to the OT.
Daniel was written to encourage the exiled Jews by revealing God’s program for them, both during and after the time of Gentile power in the world. Prominent above every other theme in the book is God’s sovereign control over the affairs of all rulers and nations, and their final replacement with the True King. The key verses are 2:20–22,44 (cf. 2:28,37; 4:34–35; 6:25–27). God had not suffered defeat in allowing Israel’s fall (Dan. 1), but was providentially working His sure purposes toward an eventual full display of His King, the exalted Christ. He sovereignly allowed Gentiles to dominate Israel, i.e., Babylon (605–539 B.C.), Medo-Persia (539–331 B.C.), Greece (331–146 B.C.), Rome (146 B.C.–A.D. 476), and all the way to the Second Advent of Christ. These stages in Gentile power are set forth in chaps. 2 and 7.
This same theme also embraces Israel’s experience both in defeat and finally in her kingdom blessing in chaps. 8–12 (cf. 2:35,45; 7:27). A key aspect within the over-arching theme of God’s kingly control is Messiah’s coming to rule the world in glory over all men (2:35,45; 7:13,14,27). He is like a stone in chap. 2, and like a son of man in chap. 7. In addition, He is the Anointed One (Messiah) in chap. 9:26. Chapter 9 provides the chronological framework from Daniel’s time to Christ’s kingdom.
A second theme woven into the fabric of Daniel is the display of God’s sovereign power through miracles. Daniel’s era is one of 6 in the Bible with a major focus on miracles by which God accomplished His purposes. Other periods include: 1) the Creation and Flood (Gen. 1–11); 2) the patriarchs and Moses (Gen. 12–Deut.); 3) Elijah and Elisha (1 Kin. 19–2 Kin. 13); 4) Jesus and the apostles (Gospels, Acts); and 5) the time of the Second Advent (Revelation). God, who has everlasting dominion and ability to work according to His will (4:34,35), is capable of miracles, all of which would be lesser displays of power than was exhibited when He acted as Creator in Gen. 1:1. Daniel chronicles the God-enabled recounting and interpreting of dreams which God used to reveal His will (chaps. 2,4,7). Other miracles included: 1) His writing on the wall and Daniel’s interpreting it (chap. 5); 2) His protection of the 3 men in a blazing furnace (chap. 3); 3) His provision of safety for Daniel in a lions’ den (chap. 6); and 4) supernatural prophecies (chaps. 2; 7; 8; 9:24–12:13).