Daniel's writings were targeted at his contemporaries who had experienced the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of all they thought meant security and strength. He wrote to those who had been exiled with him right through the seventy years, and to those who would follow them in expectation of the imminent work of God to send His Messiah to restore the place of the Jews in the world.
The two sections of Daniel's book are like an ongoing fireworks display - on one hand, the noise, light and unrelenting sensations that go with it make you want to yell at it to stop, while desperately wanting it to go on when it is finished. The first section deals with God's work within the historical day-to-day life in the royal courts of Babylon through political upheaval, intrigue and manipulations, while the second half reveals God's dealing with Daniel in visions and dreams that leave him exhausted, fearful - and driven to deeper prayer. In these we are granted brief glimpses behind the veil into the heavenly kingdom of God in its interactions with the kingdoms of this world.
It is difficult to understand much of the apocalyptic writing of the New Testament (the big, scary stuff) without first coming to terms with what happens in Daniel. Jesus, Peter and the "Seer" of Revelation all look back to Daniel and quote him in trying to describe their own visions, and in Jesus' words, the end times. Many Christians shy away from Daniel's writings, and consequently Revelation and New Testament apocalyptic writing through simple ignorance. This is disappointing because of the amount of material there to provide comfort and assurance for the Christian, especially those in the early days of the Church when violent persecution of the Church was the norm. Perhaps this may be the case for the modern Western Church, too - and if so, these writings should be our go-to for guidance.
Daniel's writings, along with the others in the "Big Guns" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) all remind us repeatedly of God's sovereignty over all creation, this world and the next. We may face elected governments, dictators or monarchs, civil and social media persecution, violent blood shedding and even death as too many of our Christian sisters and brothers suffer across the world - and God is still sovereign over all, and His will will be done. His kingdom will come.
Rather than terrify, these writings comforted and encouraged God's people in the worst of times - and continue to do so. I hope you will take the time and the effort to read through these four "Big Guns" yourself, and turn to the LORD your God in faithfulness and humility.