Again, there is controversy over who wrote the whole book of Daniel. In Norman Geisler's, A Popular Survey of the Old Testaments, chapter 38, he gives seven reasons with evidence why he thinks the whole book of Daniel was written by Daniel.
Daniel was written between 605 B.C. to 536 B.C. These dates correspond to the time when Daniel was taken captive during the reign of Jehoiakim, when he would have been a teen. The book ends when he was older possibly at least eighty-some years which God allocated to men. (Geisler)
Daniels prophecies served to comfort the exiled people of Israel with news that their nation would be restored. But in addition they were meant as an encouragement to the Jews to withstand the command to worship the emperor and to remain true to the Lord God of Israel no matter how difficult the circumstances.
There is a twofold stress in the teaching of this book: it condemns the existing (beastly) powers of this world and at the same time communicates the plan of God to set up His kingdom in this world. In so doing Daniel emphatically teaches that history has a goal, that it is His-story, and that God is sovereign over the affairs of this world.
The chief portrait of Christ in Daniel is the coming Messiah (the anointed one, 9:26). But Christ is also portrayed as the great stone who will crush the kingdoms of this world (2:34,45), the son of man (7:13), and the Ancient of Days (7:22). The vision of 10:2-9 is probably a Christophany (appearance of Christ).
Looking at the chart below, you can see that Chuck Swindoll's theme is God's sovereignty over kingdoms and His unfolding plan for the future.
J. Vernon McGee quotes Daniel 2:44, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”
Dr. David Jeremiah says, Daniel's theme is “God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Dan 4:25). If we will listen to Daniel, he will teach us that the kingdoms of this world are passing away and the kingdom of heaven is coming soon. Christians, by that I mean those who believe Jesus is Lord and follow him, should be the calmest people on earth. We have no right to run around worried about what is going to happen. God in heaven rules the kingdoms of men. http://www.roanokebaptist.org/Bible%20Studies/Daniel%20Study%20Sermon%20Series%20-%20Cobb.pdf
I. The Historical Night With Prophetic Light, Chapters 1-6
II. The Prophetic Light in the Historic Night, Chapters 7-12
Daniel chapter one starts with the life of Daniel. He was promoted to a counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his friends would not defile themselves by eating the kings meat. Permission was given for them to eat pulse, or vegetables, for ten days. At the end of this time period, Daniel and his friends looked fairer and fatter than all of the other children. God also blessed them with knowledge and understanding and wisdom. In chapter two, we find Daniel interpreted the king's dreams. Daniel went and told his friends about the dream that King Nebuchadnezzar had. Right away they went and prayed to God for the answer to these dreams.
In chapter three of Daniel, we move onto the story of the four men in the fiery furnace. We probably all have heard this story before. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow down to worship the golden image. Because of this the king was enraged. He had his men fire up the furnace seven times as hot as normal.
The king commanded his most mighty men to bind the three friends of Daniel and throw them in the furnace. As the men threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace, the flames leaped out and killed the king's men. Nebuchadnezzar came and immediately questioned about the men in the fiery furnace. He saw four men walking around. The king said the fourth man was like the Son of God. King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree that the true God be honored. He knew only the one true God could do this.
In the next few chapters, the king dreams a dream and Daniel interprets the writing on the wall. Daniel can only interpret the dreams by the help of God. He prays and gets his answer from God. Then, we have the story of Daniel and the Lions Den. Because of Daniels faith and prayer life, he is thrown into the lion's den. We know that God kept him safe.
In chapter seven of Daniel, we see that Daniel dreams about the four beasts. The first beast was the head of gold which represented the Babylonian kingdom. The second beast was the Medo-Persian Empire which was the arms of silver. The third beast was a leopard and represented the thighs of brass that was Greece. The fourth beast was the legs of iron which represented Rome. The horn or power that came out the Rome, is the Antichrist. He will prevail until Christ comes back. (Geisler) In chapter eight, Daniel dreams of a ram and a goat. The ram represented the Persians. The goat represented Greece and Alexander the Great who conquered the world during his life.
Daniel prays for his people. In chapter nine, we learn read about the seventy sevens of years. J. Vernon Mcgee described the weeks as the following:
1 week = 7 years
70 weeks = 490 years
70 weeks divided into 3 periods:
7 weeks — 62 weeks — 1 week
The angel Gabriel told Daniel that the there would be seventy weeks are weeks of years. The kingdom of heaven would not come until this time is finished. The last of the weeks of years would be the tribulation period. We can see that period did not start yet. Daniel prayed to God and asked for his mercy.
In chapter ten, Daniel sees a heavenly messenger, and this messenger predicts the future. J. Vernon McGee said, “ The delay in the answer to Daniel’s prayer was caused by a satanic hindrance. The angel sent to answer his prayer was blocked by one of Satan’s emissaries of higher rank and greater power labeled “the prince of the kingdom of Persia” (v. 13). The angel had to go for reinforcements. Michael, the archangel, came to remove the blockade. This reveals the spiritual warfare in which we all are engaged (see Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). There are different ranks of both good and bad angels. Daniel needed to be strengthened by his contact with the supernatural.” In chapter eleven, the angelic messenger revealed the future of Israel. Some of these prophecies were fulfilled years later.
The final chapter of Daniel is about the prophecy of the last days. In Matthew 24:21, “ For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” In verse one, the Bible says that Michael will stand up, which standeth for the children of thy people. Many who sleep shall awake to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. What a sad day it will be for those who reject the Lord Jesus. At the end of this chapter, Daniel is told that the words are closed up and sealed until the end of time.
Daniel has been the center of much debate and discussion. Critical scholars assume that the “Daniel Cycles” are fairly early, but since chapters 8 and 11 refer to the Greeks and the latter refers to the Maccabean period, they argue that it is prophecy “ex eventu” that is, it was written during or after the events and presented as prophecy. The third year of Jehoiakim is taken by most critics to be inaccurate in spite of D. J. Wiseman’s defense in The Babylonian Chronicle. The rule of Belshazzar has long been debated. We now have Babylonian records using his name. He was the de facto if not the de jure king when Babylon fell to the Persians.
The debate as to whether Nebuchadnezzar was actually saved in a spiritual sense remains unsettled. Such worthies as Calvin, Hengstenberg, Pusey, and Keil believe the evidence is insufficient.244 As Young and others point out, however, there is considerable evidence of Nebuchadnezzar’s spiritual progress of which chapter 4 is the climax (cf. 2:47; 3:28; 4:34-35). There can be little question that he acknowledges Daniel’s God as the omnipotent eternal sovereign of the universe (4:34, 35, 37). His issuance of a decree somewhat humiliating to his pride and an abject recognition of the power of God whom he identifies as “King of heaven” (4:37) would give us some basis for believing that Nebuchadnezzar had a true conversion. Inasmuch as in all ages some men are saved without gaining completely the perspective of faith or being entirely correct in the content of their beliefs, it is entirely possible that Nebuchadnezzar will be numbered among the saints.