A profoundly God-centered book.
Show the supremacy of God over all time, powers (principalities, authorities, kings, princes, nations), action (judgment, circumstances, politics), space, and matter, to oppose the proud and give grace to the humble.
The book of Daniel opens in the context of the Babylonian exile, after "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it" (1:1). Immediately the theme of the Lord's sovereignty is given attention. Verse two establishes a pattern that is repeated in several subsequent statements within chapter one, namely that "the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into [Nebuchadnezzar's] hand" (1:2 cf. 1:9, 17; emphasis mine). These allusions establish the foundation of the Lord's intimate sovereignty and ultimate reign over the powers and intentions of man as plainly demonstrated in chapters two through the remainder of the book. The Lord knows the dreams and visions of men and can foretell the future (cf. 2). He has power over creation (cf. 3). He has power over the power and abilities of a man (cf. 4). He is holy and His words and revelations are true and fearfully reliable (cf. 5), etc.
Three other major themes arise from the testimony of the Lord's sovereignty, namely that (1) Israel is and will continue to be ruled by a series of Gentiles, (2) the Gentile rulers do not represent the promised righteousness of the Lord's rule (cf. Jer 23:6), and consequently, (3) the Lord will in due course establish His kingdom. Again, from the opening of the book the context reminds the reader that Israel is no longer a "sovereign" nation—the Israelites are now subjects of the Gentiles. In chapter nine, Daniel laments and confesses his sin and the sin of his people (9:20) while declaring the Lord to be just in His judgments. He appeals to the Lord's lovingkindness and covenant promises, not "on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion" (9:18). All of these acknowledgements and pleas for forgiveness and mercy are couched in the context of being in exile, under Gentile rule.
The succession of world empires, kingdoms, and Gentile leaders is revealed in the interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar's dream (cf. 2:36–43) as well as in the interpretation of Daniel's dream (cf. 7:15–26). The rule of Gentiles over the "saints of the Highest One" (7:27), though instruments of the Lord's wrath and judgment, are themselves not innocent in the Lord's eyes. Rather, they demonstrate arrogance, pride, and ingratitude, not honoring the Lord as God in their hearts and deeds. This is most dramatically illustrated in the episode of Nebuchadnezzar against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and the king's insistence that the people worship an idol (3:8–22).
Chapter four illustrates the abasement of the self-exalted king by the Lord. The end of the Gentile reign also demonstrates God's judgment against the prideful and rebellious rulers, whose "hearts will be intent on evil" (11:27) and whose "dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever" (7:26). This all leads up to and points to the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant promises of God in a future kingdom, under the Lord's rule, on earth. This future kingdom will be set up by "the God of heaven" and "will never be destroyed … but it will itself endure forever" (2:44 cf. 7:27).
In the end, all that Daniel reveals promotes humility in the creature, trust in the Sovereign Creator God, and fear, worship, and exaltation of the Lord—who accomplishes His word, abases the proud, gives grace to the humble, and deserves all worship, thanksgiving, and praise. The purpose of the book of Daniel clearly communicates very significant future world events concerning God's covenants, kingdoms, and the end of time, with anticipation for the Messiah and the kingdom of God. It is emphatically God-centered.
Chapter 1: The king's selection of young men for service, Daniel's request to abstain from defilement Chapter 2: The king's dream; demand for interpretation; Daniel's prayer & the secret revealed Chapter 3: The king's golden image & Daniel's friends' refusal to worship it; their deliverance & blessing Chapter 4: Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges & praises God through his vision, experience, and recovery Chapter 5: Belshazzar uses the temple vessels; the writing on the wall; Daniels interpretation; king's death Chapter 6: Daniel is favored by King Darius; the satraps scheme against Daniel; & the lion's den Chapter 7: Daniel's vision of the 4 beasts and the Ancient of Days and its interpretation Chapter 8: Daniel's vision of the ram and the goat & its little horn and its interpretation Chapter 9: Daniel's penitent prayer for forgiveness & restoration & Gabriel's explanation of the future Chapter 10: Daniel's terrifying vision of the "certain man dressed in linen" Chapter 11: The truth of the future conflicts to come among the empires and kingdoms of the earth Chapter 12: The end of ends revealed but concealed in a book until the end of time