What Is the Book of Daniel About?

The book of Daniel is remarkable and relevant today, even though it is a book of the Old Testament. God revealed events and circumstances to Daniel that would not happen for thousands of years. The book of Daniel… 

  • Gives a historical account of Israel’s captivity 
  • Provides prophetic visions for future events 
  • Teaches us about godly character 
  • Depicts worldly powers 
  • Shows us the love and sovereignty of God 

There are many questions surrounding the book of Daniel. It is known for being a prophetic book (apocalyptic literature) connected with the book of Revelation, telling of future kingdoms and end-time events. The book of Daniel contains insights and instruction, inspiring us to live with moral character in an immoral world.

One of the most significant themes of the book is how we, as the Body of Christ, can be empowered by God to stand firm in our faith.  

Daniel is recognized for his wisdom, humility, uncompromising faith, and trust in God. Now, more than ever, this is instruction we must heed.  

Common Questions | The Book of Daniel Explained

When Was the Book of Daniel Written?

Both Jews and Christians have dated the book of Daniel as being written in the mid-sixth century. 

When Does the Book of Daniel Take Place?

As mentioned, the book was written in the mid-sixth century, around 530 B.C. Dates are also given for some of the events in the book. 

  • Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was likely around 603 or 602 B.C. “Now in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; and his spirit was so troubled that his sleep left him.”—Daniel 2:1 
  • Daniel’s dream of the four beasts was approximately 553 B.C. “In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts.”—Daniel 7:1 
  • Daniel’s vision of the ram and the goat was approximately 550 B.C. “In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me—to me, Daniel—after the one that appeared to me the first time.”—Daniel 8:1 
  • Daniel’s intercessory prayer and vision of the 70 weeks was approximately 540 B.C. “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the Lord through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”—Daniel 9:1-2 
  • Daniel’s vision of the glorious man was approximately 536 B.C. “In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.”—Daniel 10:1 

Who Wrote the Book of Daniel?

Scholars agree Daniel is the author of the book. Interestingly enough, half of the book was written in Hebrew and the other half in Aramaic. 

 Aerial view of Restored ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace from ancient Babylon.

Where Does the Book of Daniel Take Place?

The book of Daniel primarily takes place in Babylon. In 605 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem. Daniel was one of 70 young men of royalty carried off into Babylon (land of Shinar) along with articles from the Jewish temple. Babylon was located along the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq. 

What Are the Well-Known Stories in the Book of Daniel?

Below are five well-known stories you have likely heard from the book of Daniel. 

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of four kingdoms: Nebuchadnezzar had a dream about a large statue with a head of gold, chest, and arms of silver, belly, and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. Daniel was the only one who could interpret the dream because he received revelation from God. The dream was about four successive kingdoms… 

  1. Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire 
  2. Medo-Persian Empire 
  3. Greek Empire 
  4. Roman Empire 

Ultimately, Christ’s Kingdom will one day come and destroy all the kingdoms of this world. It will be a Kingdom that will be without end and last forever.     

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the fiery furnace: Daniel’s friends, whose names were changed to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, refused to worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up and were thrown into a fiery furnace. The king saw a fourth figure in the furnace who had a form “like the Son of God.” The king called the three men to come out from the fire, and he was amazed that the “fire had no power” over them. He praised and blessed the God of Israel.  

King Nebuchadnezzar goes mad: Nebuchadnezzar had another dream where he was like a large tree that was cut down. Daniel interpreted the dream which was about Nebuchadnezzar becoming like a beast. For seven years, he would be reduced to the level of an animal. The dream was a prophetic vision, which led to Nebuchadnezzar becoming a believer and following the true and living God.  

Belshazzar's feast and the writing on the wall: Belshazzar was the last king of the Babylonian empire. He had a feast, and during the feast, he drank from sacred vessels from the Jewish temple. A man’s finger mysteriously appeared and wrote on the wall during the drunken feast. The king was troubled and asked Daniel to interpret the message. Daniel explained his kingdom was finished and would be divided. That night, the king was killed, and his kingdom was divided and given to the Medes and the Persians. 

Daniel in the lions' den: One of the most well-known stories from the book of Daniel is his time in the lions’ den. The officials were jealous of Daniel after the king elevated him to a high-ranking position in his inner cabinet. They issued an edict forbidding worship and prayer to any god except the king for 30 days and tricked the king into signing it. Daniel continued to pray to his God, and the officials reported him to the king for breaking the law. As a result, he was thrown into the den of lions, but God shut the mouths of the lions, and Daniel was spared.  

Why Was the Book of Daniel Written?

As mentioned above, the book of Daniel is known as prophetic, providing pictures and descriptions of future events, many of which have taken place and others that are yet to come.  

The book of Daniel also communicates the sovereignty of God. Even when the world surrounding us seems overwhelmed with and lost in sin, God still remains as King and Lord over heaven and earth.  

“‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.’”

—Daniel 4:17 

How Does the Book of Daniel Relate to Today?

In Daniel’s time, the Babylonian empire was the world power. And what did Nebuchadnezzar do as king of this world power?  

“Then the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.”

Daniel 1:3-4 

Nebuchadnezzar knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted control—and more of it. He knew if he was to gain control and shape the future, he had to control and shape the youth. This was his intent.  

How did he do that? 

He captured and immersed young people in Babylonian culture. He wanted to erase any trace of God in their minds and hearts, even giving them new names… 

  • Daniel was changed to Belteshazzar 
  • Hananiah was changed to Shadrach 
  • Mishael was changed to Meshach 
  • Azariah was changed to Abed-Nego 

His goal was to re-educate, reshape, and reprogram them in the way of the Babylonians by replacing their biblical authority with Babylonian authority. He knew if he could reprogram the young Hebrew men, his influence would spread far and wide for years to come.   

Nebuchadnezzar could have killed these captives, but he didn’t. He wasn’t just fighting for land and cities. He was fighting for power—it was a war of worldviews.  

Think about the situation our world is in today. How does the book of Daniel relate?

We live in a Babylonian society. There is a spiritual war going on for our children, and a Babylonian spirit is trying to capture the minds and hearts of today’s youth.  

If this spiritual force can capture and reshape our youth—the same people who will lead our nation in the coming years—where will we be? 

We must follow the lead of Daniel’s parents and consider the Proverbs 22:6 principle to “train up a child in the way he should go.” Daniel stood without compromise or fear. He had integrity, humility, hope, and wisdom. In the same way, Daniel’s parents prepared him, we have the responsibility to prepare and shape the young people in our lives.  

Let us train up and teach our children the same way—to reach for God, so they won’t be deceived by the lies of this world and reach for something else.  

Kids entering school with a smile on their face, ready to take on the day.

Our children are living in a Babylonian society, but they don’t have to let it shape who they are.