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The Profound Message Behind Daniel’s Visions and Interpretations

A new video by the Bible Project gives insight into the vision-rich book of Daniel.

Set right after Babylon’s first attack on Jerusalem, Daniel focuses on four exiles from the royal family of David: Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Book was written in two languages: Chapters 1 and 8-12 are in Hebrew, while chapters 2-7 are in Aramaic, which is a language similar to Hebrew.

Chapter 1

Shows the pressure Daniel and his friends feel to give up their Jewish identity by living and eating like the Babylonians do. God is faithful to the friends, who choose not to compromise.

Chapter 2

The King of Babylon has a dream that only Daniel is able to interpret.

Chapter 3

Tells the story of the fiery furnace—the King of Babylon acknowledges the sovereignty of Israel’s God.

Chapters 4 and 5

We are told of two Babylonian kings: Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar, who are filled with pride. Both kings have a dream that warns them of God’s impending anger at their pride. Daniel again accurately interprets the dreams and passes on God’s warning.

Chapter 6

Tells the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. The king exalts Daniel and the God he serves.

Chapter 7

Daniel has a dream that he has difficulty interpreting and which upsets him greatly.

Chapter 8

Daniel’s second vision. Speaks about the Medo-Persian empire and the Greek empire.

Chapter 9

Daniel’s prayer for God to fulfill the promise he spoke in Jeremiah 25 where it says Israel’s exile will only last 70 years. An angel comes and explains that Israel’s sin has continued, therefore the exile will be 7 times longer.

Chapters 10-12

Daniel’s 3rd vision showed a progression of kingdoms from Persia to Greece, to lesser kings giving way to the King of the North, who would invade Jerusalem and set up idols in the temple. However, the King of the North is ruined.

There are many interpretations for Daniel’s visions, but three major themes emerge in the book:

Faithfulness despite persecution (chapters 1, 3, and 6).

We suffer because human kingdoms have rebelled against God and have become beasts. (chapters 4 and 5)

These visions encourage patience: “God people are to wait for him to bring his kingdom and rule over our world and vindicate our suffering.” (chapters 2, 7-12)

Jesus himself used the book of Daniel to describe Jerusalem’s leaders. Despite the different interpretations of Daniel’s visions and the nations or rulers they could be referring to, “the book offers hope that should motivate faithfulness.”