The arrangement of the Aramaic section of Daniel, chapters 2-7 (parts of Daniel were written in Hebrew and other parts in Aramaic), reveals the following structure, which helps reinforce a central message of that section, and of the book:
A. Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of four kingdoms (Daniel chapter 2)
B. God delivers Daniel’s companions from the fiery furnace (Daniel chapter 3)
C. Judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel chapter 4)
C’. Judgment upon Belshazzar (Daniel chapter 5)
B’. God delivers Daniel from the den of lions (Daniel chapter 6)
A’. Daniel’s vision of four kingdoms (Daniel chapter 7)
This kind of literary arrangement serves to highlight the main point by placing it at the center of the structure, which in this case consists of C and C’ (Daniel chapters 4 and 5): God removes the kingdom from Nebuchadnezzar (temporarily) and from Belshazzar (permanently). Therefore, the emphasis of chapters 2-7 is on God’s sovereignty over the kings of the earth as He establishes and removes them.
One of the most effective ways of conveying a message and making a point clear is by repetition. For example, God gives Pharaoh two dreams about the immediate future of Egypt (Gen. 41:1-7). In the first dream, seven fat cows are devoured by seven thin cows. In the second dream, seven ears of healthy grain are devoured by seven thin and blighted ears. Both dreams make the same point: seven years of prosperity will be followed by seven years of scarcity.
In the book of Daniel, God also uses repetition. There are four prophetic cycles, which are repetitions of an overall basic structure. In the end, this structure shows us the ultimate sovereignty of God. Although each major prophetic outline conveys a distinct perspective, together they cover the same historical period, extending from the time of the prophet to the end, as the following diagram shows:
|What great hope do these texts present regarding our long-term prospects? Dan. 2:44, Ps. 9:7-12, 2 Pet. 3:11-13.|