Sabbath, January 15, 2011
“… For our iniquities have we … been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands.” Ezra 9:7.
Prophecy and fulfillment
1. Who prophesied that the Babylonians would take the people of Judah captive?
Jeremiah 25:8-11 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
“Within a few years this terrible judgment was to be visited upon Jehoiakim; but first the Lord in mercy informed the impenitent nation of His set purpose. In the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign ‘Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem,’ pointing out that for over a score of years, ‘from the thirteenth year of Josiah,… even unto this day,’ he had borne witness of God’s desire to save, but that his messages had been despised. Jeremiah 25:2, 3. And now the word of the Lord to them was:
“… ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.’ ” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 430, 431.
2. According to the Biblical record, when did the first assault against Jerusalem occur? What calendar year was this?
Daniel 1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
“The overthrow of Jerusalem recorded here was predicted by Jeremiah, and was accomplished in 606 B.C. Jeremiah 25:8-11…. Nebuchadnezzar set out on his expedition near the close of the third year of Jehoiakim, from which point Daniel reckons. But the king did not accomplish the subjugation of Jerusalem until about the ninth month of the year following, from which year Jeremiah reckons.” –Uriah Smith, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, 1944 edition, p. 19.
3. Who were among the first captives? What is recorded concerning them?
Daniel 1:3, 4 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; 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.
Daniel 1:6 Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
“When, early in the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar for the first time besieged and captured Jerusalem, and carried away Daniel and his companions, with others specially chosen for service in the court of Babylon, the faith of the Hebrew captives was tried to the utmost. But those who had learned to place their trust in the promises of God found these all-sufficient in every experience through which they were called to pass during their sojourn in a strange land. The Scriptures proved to them a guide and a stay.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 428.
Disobedience, blindness, and their consequences
4. Did God’s judgment cause repentance and change among the people who remained in Jerusalem? What was the result?
2 Kings 24:8-11 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done. At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it.
2 Kings 24:14-16 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king’s mother, and the king’s wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon.
“Within a few short years the king of Babylon was to be used as the instrument of God’s wrath upon impenitent Judah. Again and again Jerusalem was to be invested and entered by the besieging armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Company after company–at first a few only, but later on thousands and tens of thousands–were to be taken captive to the land of Shinar, there to dwell in enforced exile.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 422.
5. What consequence of King Zedekiah’s spiritual blindness occurred in the third conquest? What prophecy concerning him was thus fulfilled?
2 Kings 24:17-19 And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father’s brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was twenty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
2 Kings 25:1, 2 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it: and they built forts against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
2 Kings 25: 6, 7 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him. And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
Ezekiel 12:13, 14 My net also will I spread upon him, and he shall be taken in my snare: and I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there. 12:14 And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.
“Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah–all these Jewish kings were in turn to become vassals of the Babylonian ruler, and all in turn were to rebel. Severer and yet more severe chastisements were to be inflicted upon the rebellious nation, until at last the entire land was to become a desolation, Jerusalem was to be laid waste and burned with fire, the temple that Solomon had built was to be destroyed, and the kingdom of Judah was to fall, never again to occupy its former position among the nations of earth.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 422, 423.
Consequences of playing with sin
6. Even who recognized that the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity came from the Lord’s hand as the consequence of apostasy? During this time, what happened to the ark of the covenant?
Jeremiah 40:2, 3 And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The Lord thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. Now the Lord hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.
2 Chronicles 36:14-16 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 36:15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
“Among the righteous still in Jerusalem, to whom had been made plain the divine purpose, were some who determined to place beyond the reach of ruthless hands the sacred ark containing the tables of stone on which had been traced the precepts of the Decalogue. This they did. With mourning and sadness they secreted the ark in a cave, where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel and Judah because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 453.
7. From these experiences, what may we learn about the consequences of disobedience and sin?
Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Deuteronomy 28:1, 2 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.
Deuteronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.
“We are far from being the people God would have us to be, because we do not elevate the soul and refine the character in harmony with the wonderful unfolding of God’s truth and His purposes. ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Proverbs 14:34. Sin is a disorganizer. Wherever it is cherished–in the individual heart, in the household, in the church–there is disorder, strife, variance, enmity, envy, jealousy, because the enemy of man and of God has the controlling power over the mind. But let the truth be loved and brought into the life, as well as advocated, and that man or woman will hate sin and will be a living representative of Jesus Christ to the world.” –Selected Messages, book 2, p. 377.
For personal study
• Ezra 9:7-15.
• 2 Samuel 22:49.