The Book of Daniel is full of significant themes for today’s Christian reader. The book highlights, for example, the sovereignty of God. It emphasizes God’s rule over all the events of men. It also focuses in on the life of faithfulness, demonstrating it through Daniel’s own persistence in the face of trials. It is a book full of relevance for the modern reader. Far too much emphasis on the book centers around eschatology, but there is so much more to love and appreciate and benefit from in the Book of Daniel. The theme, that most struck me in the book is Divine revelation as an act of love. God’s revelation stems from His affection.
God’s love may seem a strange theme to highlight in a book so full of suffering, disappointment, and trial. After all, Daniel is taken into captivity as a young boy, forced to learn a different language, given a different name, and then instructed to serve one wicked despot after another. It isn’t exactly a model of the kind of love we all desire. Yet God’s love for Daniel is regularly stated in the text, and it is often stated in relationship to God’s revelation.
Love is part of Daniel’s story. Despite all the suffering and troubling contexts, the text tells us that “God gave Daniel favor” in the sight of the kings and officials (1:9), and He gave him wisdom in understanding dreams and visions (1:17). In each case that Daniel is called upon to interpret a dream or vision we find that God’s mercy and love are close at hand. The gift of interpretation, given by God, was still contingent upon God. Even Daniel himself declares that it is God alone who reveals the mysteries (2:20-30). He imparts wisdom to Daniel, then, as a particular demonstration of His love for Daniel.
So, in chapter 2, when Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the interpretation is given to Daniel after he and his three friends seek the mercy of God (2:17-20). Even the various visions of Daniel himself have interpretations given by God, not conjured up by Daniel (Chap.7-12). He asks for clarity and it is imparted to Him by God or through one of His messengers (angels). In several places specifically, however, God’s revelation is accompanied by the words of God’s love for Daniel.
It is love that prompts God’s revelation. So, in chapter 9, verse 23, we see a direct correlation. The angel Gabriel comes to Daniel to “give…insight and understanding” (v.22), he says:
At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.
The interpretation of the vision is given, Gabriel says, “for you are greatly loved.” God reveals the truth to Daniel because of His love for Daniel. The same thing happens again in chapter 10, where twice Daniel is called “man greatly loved,” and is given further understanding. God reveals truth to Daniel because He loves Daniel.
We don’t often think of revelation as working this way. Divine revelation is simply truth. We think of it in terms of facts, doctrines, things to know, but it stems from divine love. God reveals Himself, His will, His ways, to His people because He loves them. This does not mean that a lack of understand is evidence of God’s distance, for God does not reveal all things to us. But we can conclude from Daniel’s example that anything we do know is because of God’s great love for His people.
All truth is revealed truth. If we know anything it is not because we were smart enough or clever enough or insightful enough to figure it out. We know, rather, because God has chosen to reveal it to us and we are reminded, then, of how much God loves us. We do know, after all, a great deal. God has revealed huge amounts of truth to us, most notably He has revealed to us the Truth that is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). He loves us, and divine revelation is evidence of it.
Suffering in Daniel’s life was not a sign of God’s displeasure, for God was using the suffering to give Daniel further insight into God’s will and plan. In fact, in Daniel’s case, the suffering was an occasion for God to display even greater love through revelation to the man. Daniel was a man “greatly loved,” even when that love came with trials. He was loved because God was revealing Himself and His will to Daniel, and that meant a deeper relationship for Daniel. This is love. Divine revelation stems from Divine love, and the Book of Daniel exemplifies this.