The book portrays God’s interest in, and care over, His chosen people, even when they are being punished for sin. This is shown in the historical portion by actual events described, and in the predictive portion by the nature of the prophecies, in which Jewish interests are continually placed in the fore.6In revealing the eventual restoration of Israel, the book serves as an encouragement concerning God’s provision for His elect nation in the midst of judgment.7 God’s provision for the Jews in the midst of judgment is evident from the very first verse where we find Daniel taken to Babylon in advance of the majority of his countrymen. Like Joseph who was sold into Egypt, it was God’s purpose to send Daniel ahead as part of His plan to provide favor for the Jews in the midst of their hardship.8
1 The Plane of the Ecliptic is illustrated in this Clementine star tracker camera image which reveals (from right to left) the Moon lit by Earthshine, the Sun’s corona rising over the Moon’s dark limb, and the planets Saturn, Mars, and Mercury. “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, The ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, And its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name): ‘If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD’ ” (Jeremiah 31:35-37). Image courtesy of NASA. Image is in the public domain.
2 “The prophecy traces the course of ‘the times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24) from the captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar till the second advent of Christ and the setting up of the Messianic Kingdom over Israel.”—Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), 1603. “In light of what is revealed in the opening and concluding chapters of this section, it is fair to say that chapters 2–7 depict the role, character, and succession of the Gentile nations of the world under whom Israel is being disciplined before Messiah’s kingdom. These chapters affirm that these Gentile kingdoms have the right of world sovereignty (under God’s authority) until God is pleased to establish the messianic kingdom, and that no adversary can successfully oppose Him (Dan. 2:44+; 4:3+, 34+–35; 5:21+; 6:26+; 7:14+, 27+).”—J. Paul Tanner, “The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 137 no. 545 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, January-March 1968), 281.
3 “And now, as we know, with this particular nation (Israel) were tied up all the gracious promises of God. Were these promises cancelled? Could God achieve the impossible, humanly speaking?”—H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Daniel (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1949, 1969), 15.
4 “The people about them were saying that God had cast them aside (Jer. 33:24), and they needed to hear that this was not so. They needed to hear, indeed, that God actually had a long, attractive future in mind for them.”—Leon J. Wood, A Commentary on Daniel (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 14.
5 “Thus the purpose of the Book of Daniel could be stated this way: ‘To demonstrate that God is sovereignly in control of the nations under whom Israel is being disciplined until the time comes when He will bring in Messiah’s kingdom, and that Israel will ultimately be restored and blessed in this kingdom after she has first undergone tribulation and sufferings imposed by the Antichrist.’ ”—Tanner, The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel, 282.
6 Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 23.
7 “Four items about this time period would greatly encourage the exiles. First, they would be encouraged to know that this time period would not last forever but rather would be limited to four specific empires. Second, they would be encouraged to know that God was sovereign over the empires that were oppressing them. His limitation of their reigns revealed His sovereignty over them. Third, they would be encouraged to know of God’s covenant faithfulness as evidenced by His intention to preserve a remnant throughout this traumatic time period. Fourth, they would be encouraged to know of God’s purpose to honor the Abrahamic covenant by learning of His intention to ultimately restore the kingdom to Israel (Dan. 2:35+, 44+).”—Andy Woods, Introduction to the Book of Daniel, 25.
8 “Thus, Daniel had been in Babylon for eight years when Judeans of the captivity of 597 arrived, and nineteen years when those of 586 came. He continued to live during the full period of the captivity and was able to witness the return to Judah of many of the people in 538/537 B.C.”—Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 13-14. “The other area of work concerns Daniel’s enhancement of the welfare of Judeans, while they were in captivity. One would naturally expect the lot of captives to be a hard and oppressive one, but this was not the case for many, if not the majority, of Judeans in Babylonia. There is evidence that they lived in a good farming area of the land, had their own homes, enjoyed freedom of movement, continued their own institutions of elders, priests, and prophets, experienced employment opportunities, and even carried on correspondence with the homeland. The likely human factor to account for this surprising condition was the influence of Daniel, working from his position in the government. A principal reason for God’s permitting him to be taken captive eight years earlier than the captivity involving the large group of Judeans may well have been to allow opportunity for him to achieve such a position.”—Wood, A Commentary on Daniel, 17.