Third, God gave Daniel the ability to understand visions and dreams (see v. 17). This relates to spiritual insight. As we see this play out in chapter 2, Daniel’s gift parallels Joseph’s (Gen. 40–41). These men did not seek to interpret visions on their own. They understood that meaning comes from God.

When Daniel and his friends finally were presented to the king, they impressed him. They stood out (see v. 20). The king questioned them, and they demonstrated they were in a league of their own. That’s because they were drawing on wisdom that was not their own or based on the limited wisdom of the Chaldeans. They were depending on God, and that made a remarkable difference. These young men clearly understood that when they did what was right, God would reward their actions. He rewarded them physically, intellectually and spiritually. The life of Daniel demonstrates to anyone willing to pay careful attention that God ultimately blesses everyone who does what is right.

Go Deeper

Daniel has several unique features among Old Testament books. The first half of the book deals with historical matters; the second half of the book deals with prophetic matters. The central theme of Daniel is that God is sovereign over the nations. God can cause one nation to rise and another nation to fall. Both the world and world events are in God’s hands.

Daniel is also an apocalyptic book. That simply means that Daniel was written partly from the perspective of future events. Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament are the clearest biblical examples of apocalyptic writing. They unveil events that God is going to bring about in the future.

Daniel was written in two different languages. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, but Daniel is a unique exception. The middle sections of Daniel, from 2:5 to 7:28, were written in a sister language of Hebrew—Aramaic. That was the language of diplomacy in the Middle East, the equivalent of English’s role in the modern world.

The purpose of the Book of Daniel is to show God’s faithfulness. The immediate audience for the book was God’s people in Persia and Israel. But God remains faithful to readers of Daniel today—much of Daniel was written as hopeful prophecy, and we now read it as hope-filled history. That is why the parts that remain prophetic—the parts that deal with the times of the Gentiles—give us reason for hope in God’s faithfulness.

Consider It

As you read Daniel 1:1–21, consider these questions:

1) As you begin this study of Daniel, what understanding do you bring with you about the contents and purpose of this book?

2) How would you describe Daniel’s most difficult challenge among all the changes that were imposed on his life by his captivity and deportation?

3) How quickly do we see Daniel’s recognition of God’s role in the events of life in this chapter? (see v. 2). Why is this significant?

4) What were the most memorable or significant parts of your own childhood over which you had little or no control? How did you respond to those events?

5) What resolutions have you made (such as not to smoke or use drugs) that will influence your future health?

6) In what ways have you experienced the three kinds of benefits that flow into the lives of those who are living for God?

7) How is your life a collection of evidences of God’s blessing?

Copyright by Woodrow Koll. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.