This is the book of the universal sovereignty of God. Prophecy is here interwoven with history to show that God is overruling the idolatry, blasphemy, self-will, and intolerance of the Gentiles.5This theme is demonstrated by the linkage between the first six chapters which contain historical narrative and the remaining chapters which illustrate the sovereign control of God in the spiritual realm behind the scenes of history, especially His foreknowledge in predicting and determining the course of history.
It is one thing to see how these episodes [of chapters 1-6] are related. But how are they relevant to the prophetic sections of the book? The reiterated point of the historical episodes relates to the terrifying visions of the earthly kingdoms in an important way. Daniel’s overall purpose, obviously reflecting God’s purpose in giving him these revelations, was to strengthen the faith of the people of God against the prospects of future events. . . . The historical episodes support the thesis that whereas earthly kings are temporarily sovereign, God is supremely so and His kingdom will never end. This theme is stated explicitly in the prophetic section.6Some attempt to find refuge from the sovereignty which pervades Scripture by holding that although God knows in advance what will happen, He doesn’t control its outcome. This impotent view of God must surrender in the face of passages such as Daniel 9:24-27+ which predicted the arrival of the Messiah based on a specific pattern of seventy sevens of years. When one considers the generations in the line leading to Messiah between the prediction by Gabriel unto the presentation of Jesus to Israel, one is faced with the realization that all the variables contributing to the “random” timing of human choices pertaining to romance, courting, and marriage (not to mention conception) were not just foreknown, but predetermined for the predicted Seventy Sevens to come to pass.The revelation of God’s ultimate control of all affairs is intended to be a source of great comfort for those who trust in Him:
These accurate prophecies demonstrating God’s control are not intended merely to demonstrate God’s omnipotence. They are primarily designed to comfort God’s people. He is in control of all human history for their benefit. While this benefit may be seen in the short term (as when Daniel is rescued from the lions’ den or the young men from the fiery furnace), often it is not immediately evident (as in the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar or the persecution of God’s people under Antiochus IV Epiphanes). Yet Daniel emphasizes that God always has his people’s welfare in mind, so that by his mighty hand, often unseen in the course of human events, “all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).7
1 Image provided by NASA, “Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet.” The image is in the public domain in the USA. “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” (Isaiah 40:22)
2 The Jewish kings were deposed in the events leading up to the Babylonian captivity. See Historical Setting.
3 “Without doubt the principle theological focus of the book is the sovereignty of God. Every page reflects the author’s conviction that his God was the Lord of individuals, nations, and all of history.”—Stephen R. Miller, “Daniel,” in E. Ray Clendenen, Kenneth A. Mathews, and David S. Dockery, eds., The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 50.
4 David Jeremiah, The Handwriting on the Wall: Secrets from the Prophecies of Daniel (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1992), 11.
5 J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981), 3:526.
6 Les P. Bruce, “Discourse Theme and the Narratives of Daniel,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 160 no. 638 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, April-June 2003), 182.
7 Andrew E Steinmann, Daniel (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2008), 29.