Babylonian captivity

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #1

Friday, April 28, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

The Book of Daniel begins: “[1] In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. [2] And the LORD gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.” After centuries of persistent unbelief and pagan idolatry, JEHOVAH God finally judged the Jews as promised (cf. Leviticus 26:14-46; Deuteronomy 28:15-68). He recruited Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to attack and eventually deport Israelites from Judaea (southern Israel) to Babylon (modern Iraq).

Daniel continues: “[3] And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; [4] Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans. [5] And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.”

“[6] Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: [7] Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.” Today’s Scripture says that Daniel, living in heathen surroundings, has already made up his mind to remain separate….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is the Ephesian church of the Revelation the same group as those in the Book of Ephesians?

When the Land Vomited (Thrice)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants (Leviticus 18:24,25 KJV).

The land has vomited twice; it will again!

Leviticus chapter 18 is JEHOVAH God commanding Israel through Moses not to participate in the various graphic activities of the heathen in the Promised Land. He is bringing the Jews into the land that the Gentiles have defiled with child sacrifices, incest, homosexuality, bestiality (sex with animals), adultery, and so on. God is evicting the evil Canaanites so that His people inherit the land that belongs to Him. The Jews are to value and obey His Word, lest the land “vomit” them out as well!

Verses 26-30: “[26] Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: [27] (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) [28] That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. [29] For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. [30] Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.”

Unfortunately, Israel never heeded the warnings. She became increasingly idolatrous in the following centuries. With the deaths of Moses and Joshua, Israel sank spiritually and morally. As God promised, the Promised Land did eventually “vomit” out Israel. The Assyrian and Babylonian armies came and took the Jews into foreign lands as prisoners of war; the Gentiles took over the land of Palestine again. One day, however, the Promised Land will “vomit” out the Gentiles, and God will bring Israel back into it forever!

Bible Q&A #285: “Ephesians 3:15—Who are God’s family in heaven and on earth?

Praise and Thanks to the LORD

Thursday, June 30, 2016

“And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid” (Ezra 3:11 KJV).

Just imagine Israel’s joy as the Temple is being reconstructed!

The Babylonian armies had come many decades earlier and destroyed Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, the house of the LORD, the magnificent center of Israel’s religious life, was burned to the ground! The Jews of the southern kingdom (Judah) were violently carried away to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-21; 2 Chronicles 36:14-21).

JEHOVAH God commissioned Persian King Cyrus the Great to rebuild His Temple (Isaiah 44:28—written nearly two centuries previous to Cyrus!). Obeying Cyrus’ decree, Zerubbabel leads some of his Jewish brethren from Babylon back to Jerusalem to begin the construction (2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-11). These Jews have given of their material riches to construct the Temple. As chapter 2 of Ezra says: “[68] And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: [69] They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments.”

In today’s Scripture, they are excited that they have now laid the foundation for this new Temple. Literally, they are “re-laying the groundwork” for their Mosaic religion. They want JEHOVAH’S presence to return to them. They desire for Him to dwell in Jerusalem with them as He did before their Babylonian captivity/exile. It is a very emotional time. The older men, those who had seen Solomon’s Temple before it was destroyed over 50 years earlier, observe the construction of this new Temple’s foundation and they “wept with a loud voice” (verse 12)! They recognize that they had sinned (leading to their punishment in the captivity) but their God has been faithful in bringing them back into the Promised Land. Not because of their faithfulness, but because of His!

Lamentations and Adulations #2

Saturday, February 27, 2016

“But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us” (Lamentations 5:22 KJV).

What a befitting end to the book of Lamentations!

Lamentations is actually the Holy Spirit through Jeremiah expressing His grief concerning the destruction His people brought upon themselves. But, it is also Jeremiah the Prophet voicing his praise of JEHOVAH God. The God of Israel is a good God, most forgiving and most gracious (Lamentations 3:22-25).

As He told Moses many centuries before Jeremiah, Exodus 34:5-7: “[5] And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. [6] And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, [7] Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

No matter what horrible situation Israel placed herself into, there was (and always would be) assurance that JEHOVAH God would never give up on her. He would never leave her completely. Israel, as all of sinful mankind, turned out to be such a rotten nation. God had every right to utterly reject them and be very wroth with them. They had turned Jerusalem, the city where He desired to live with them, into a pagan shrine where they had literally set up idols to worship and serve! My, how He judged Jerusalem—yea, all of Israel. But, He will never break His Word to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

As Paul the Apostle commented, although Israel is set aside today in our Dispensation of Grace: “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:28,29). God will make Israel His kingdom of priests in His own time. “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21—the verse before today’s Scripture). Israel’s best years are still future—due to God’s faithfulness, not hers! 🙂

Lamentations and Adulations #1

Friday, February 26, 2016

“But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us” (Lamentations 5:22 KJV).

What a befitting end to the book of Lamentations!

Lamentations was written by Jeremiah the Prophet to mourn (“lament”) the city of Jerusalem that now lay in ruins. Once a magnificent city, now a shame. Jerusalem, once world-renown for its military conquests and splendorous Temple, now un-walled and defenseless. Heathen neighbors laughed. Her inhabitants dragged off to Babylon—only a few poor people remain. Her kings slaughtered or imprisoned—the Davidic monarchy destroyed. Solomon’s magnificent Temple—now charred wood and scattered stones. JEHOVAH’S presence—long departed from Jerusalem. No economy, no Jewish government, almost no population, no religious system, no walls or military, no more Promised Land. All gone. Taken away. Indeed, Jeremiah aptly summarized it: “But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us!”

How God’s wrath fell upon His beloved city! We cannot imagine the violent fury that obliterated Jerusalem during Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s third invasion! (If God did that to His own nation, what is He going to all the Gentile nations one day?!) He was so very angry, so enraged, that He “utterly rejected” Israel! Once He came, there was nothing left! For five long chapters, Jeremiah poured out his heart, literally weeping throughout Lamentations. JEHOVAH God was just. Jerusalem, warned for centuries, completely refused to listen to prophets JEHOVAH had sent to warn her. Having reached the point of “no-return,” no repentance or conversion, judgment came! Jeremiah looked at Jerusalem in ruins, and he closed Lamentations with a very heavy heart: “But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us!”

A very depressing predicament—such extensive destruction makes Jerusalem appear perpetually ruined. But, small rays of hope appear in Lamentations 3:22-25: “[22] It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. [23] They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. [24] The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. [25] The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Jerusalem was destroyed, but not 100 percent annihilated. Her people were unfaithful to Him by worshipping and serving idols, but He would be faithful anyway!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who was Melchizedek?

“Hate Speech” #6

Monday, February 22, 2016

“Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt” (Jeremiah 38:4 KJV).

Who is “this man?” And, what words is he speaking to make him worthy of being “put to death?”

According to the verses previous to today’s Scripture, Jeremiah preached: “[2] Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live. [3] Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.”

In today’s Scripture, Judah’s princes complained to King Zedekiah that Jeremiah was discouraging the Jewish people from fighting and resisting the Babylonians. Unbelief at its very best! Jeremiah was preaching in the name of JEHOVAH—“thus saith the LORD”—and JEHOVAH God had already determined that the Babylonians would come in and defeat the Jews. That is, Jeremiah was telling Israel it was no use fighting the Babylonians, for God had already determined that judgment on the Jews. Israel’s God had given them centuries of warnings to reform or be punished, but the Jews never turned back to Him.

Of course, Jeremiah was portrayed as the evil one. Judah’s princes accused him of not seeking Judah’s wellbeing. In fact, it was they who were not seeking Judah’s wellbeing. They were the evil ones. To fight against JEHOVAH, as they were doing, was sure to lead to physical harm and death. Contrariwise, to obey JEHOVAH’S words through Jeremiah, and submit to Babylon, “he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.”

What another interesting parallel to today’s Scripture. Those who rebel against God, they are “innocent.” It is the Bible-believing Christian, speaking against injustice and unrighteousness, who is the evildoer!

“Hate Speech” #5

Sunday, February 21, 2016

“Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt” (Jeremiah 38:4 KJV).

Who is “this man?” And, what words is he speaking to make him worthy of being “put to death?”

The Prophet Jeremiah preached with authority, “Thus saith the LORD (verse 2). This greatly upset the Jewish people, for they knew quite well that they had disobeyed the LORD and His impending judgment on them was just.

While they did not take Jeremiah’s life, verse 6 says that they threw him into a dungeon. The language indicates that it was an empty in-ground cistern or well. Instead of water, it had mire (slushy mud). In less than five years, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar came in and destroyed Jerusalem (chapters 39 and 52; cf. 2 Chronicles chapter 36)—JEHOVAH’S word (through Moses and Jeremiah) was fulfilled. The Babylonian captain freed Jeremiah, who remained in Judah before moving to Egypt with the remnant of Jews not taken to Babylon (chapters 40-45). Jerusalem, actually, 2,600 years later, is still awaiting God’s restoration.

Today, brethren, we speak with authority when we say, “Thus saith the LORD.” When the Bible delineates specific actions as sins, they are sins. End of story. People can argue all they want but there is no room for argument. They can throw their tantrums but they need to grow up and face reality. There is such a thing as right and wrong, and God’s judgment is sure to fall on those who are outside of His Son Jesus Christ. Let us warn them in love, but let us warn them while there is still time. We Bible believers do not preach “hate speech.” We preach “love speech.” We preach God’s love on Calvary commended to sinners (Romans 5:8). May we point them to Calvary, lest they go to hell forever, something infinitesimally worse than invading Babylonian armies and Gentile captivity!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it ‘un-Christian’ for a country to have border walls?