From the fiery furnace to the lion’s den, the book of Daniel tells some of the most gripping stories in the whole Bible. These stories draw our attention to proud kings, conspiring officials, and especially to the courageous lives of Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
One of the challenges in reading a book like Daniel is to remember that, while these characters can take our attention, the book of Daniel is not primarily about them. Daniel is not the hero of
the story. Like the rest of the Bible, the book of Daniel is firstly about God: who he is, what he has done, is doing, and will do. The message of Daniel is not ‘dare to be a Daniel’, but rather ‘dare to trust Daniel’s God’. God saves and preserves a sinful people, he reveals and interprets dreams, he answers prayer, exalts the humble and humbles the proud.
The book contains two main sections – the stories of chapters 1-6, and four ‘apocalyptic’ visions in chapters 7-12. ‘Each account and each vision expresses the same important message: in spite of present circumstances that make it appear as if evil is winning the day, God is in control and will have the final victory. This message has brought comfort to God’s people throughout history and up to the present day.’ (NIV Zondervan Study Bible)
As Christians we know the fulfilment of all God’s plans is found in Jesus. The whole Bible points to him as the one ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:3), and in whom all God’s promises are ‘yes’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). The great promise of Daniel — that the kingdom of the true and living God will be victorious and ‘endure forever’ (2:44) — comes to its climax in Jesus, who announced the arrival of the kingdom of God in his own death and resurrection. Ultimately the message of Daniel lifts our eyes to Christ, and the assurance and peace available in him.