JEREMIAH & THE FALL OF JERUSALEM—EZEKIEL, DANIEL & THE CAPTIVITY-NEBUCHADNEZZAR & THE FALL OF BABYLON
God was about to bring judgement upon Jerusalem and Judah for their sins, too: for forsaking God. He was going to bring the heathen upon them, defeat them, conquer them, chastise them, punish them for their sins to reap what they had sown. But in His mercy‚ God nevertheless raised up a prophet called Jeremiah, a man of Anathoth, as a warning to the people to tell them what was going to happen‚ and that God could temper the judgement and could tone it down if they would repent.
So in those last days of Judah (the Southern Kingdom of Jews) God raised up a prophet called Jeremiah, about 626 B.C. Jeremiah lived about 100 years after Isaiah had saved Judah from the Assyrians, when the Lord had sent an angel to destroy the Assyrian army. Jeremiah also tried this time to save Judah from the Babylonians‚ but he couldn't.
The Jews virtually forced Babylon to conquer them by their violent rebellion against Babylonian World domination. Zedekiah ... "rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel." (2Chron.36:13) King Zedekiah refused payment of tribute. They offended Nebuchadnezzar's ambassadors and dared him to attack!—Which he did and destroyed them! (Excerpt from Jeremiah Tape by Father David; ML 693:70)
1. God warned the Israelites not to resist the Babylonians—His punishment for Israel's sins—or they would be destroyed! And they were! Jeremiah‚ His Prophet, begged the Jews to even flee the city and join the enemy to save their lives, saying, "Why will ye die, O Jerusalem!" (ML 162:42)
2. The city was put under seige for many months until "they were destroyed by the famine, and by the darts which the enemy threw at them from the towers." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews)
3. At midnight, when Zedekiah heard that the enemy were in the city, he took his wives and children and his soldiers and escaped through a secret "fortified ditch" by the king's garden, out into the desert past the enemy lines. However, the Babylonians came after Zedekiah and caught up with him near Jericho. All his friends and soldiers deserted him and the Babylonians took him alive. (Josephus & 2Kings 25:1-5)
4. Here is a peaceful scene at Riblah. The Babylonians took Zedekiah to Riblah where Nebuchadnezzar, the King of the Babylonians‚ was staying. Nebuchadnezzar began to call him a wicked wretch, and a covenant-breaker, and one that had forgotten his former words‚ when he promised to keep the country for him. He also reproached him for his ingratitude and said, "God is great, Who hateth that conduct of thine, and hath brought thee under us."—All too true! (Josephus & 2Kings 25:5-6)
5. The prophet Jeremiah had told Zedekiah that he would not escape from the Babylonians but would speak with Nebuchadnezzar "mouth to mouth" and "thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon." (Jeremiah 32:4; 34:3) And the prophet Ezekiel added, "I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there." (Ezekiel 12:13)
This is exactly what happened to Zedekiah. After he saw Nebuchadnezzar, he saw his sons being put to death, and was then blinded and taken to Babylon in brass chains. (2Kings 25:7)
6. The wrath of the Lord arose against His people‚ till there was no remedy. (2Chron.36:16) Jerusalem was then totally destroyed—the temple, fine houses, the walls. The pillars of brass and beautiful fittings in the temple and the city were broken up and taken as scrap metal to Babylon. (2Kings 25:8-17) 586 B.C.
7. All the rich and the powerful were carried off to Babylon; only the poor and the meek were left to inherit the earth.
What happened to Jeremiah? God put him in the safety of the cold storage of prison until he could be delivered by his enemies, and be blessed and protected and provided for and encouraged by the ones you would have least expected it—from the cruel, heathen enemies of his people. (ML 35:12)
Ark of the Covenant. This bas relief from the synagogue of Capernaum shows the ark of the covenant. The ark was kept in the holy of holies of the temple in Jerusalem.
The Babylonians released Jeremiah from prison, and treated him royally‚ giving him everything he needed, and told him that he could live under the Governor's protection—a Governor appointed by the conquerors—and continue to dwell with his people. (ML 163:12)
8. The new governor, Gedaliah, began his rule here at Mizpah (4 miles away from Jerusalem) because the capital had been razed to the ground. But Ishmael, a Jewish rebel with ten of his men, came and killed Gedaliah and those with him—then all the rest of the Jews fled to Egypt‚ because they were afraid of the Babylonians. (2Kings 25:22-26)
9. This map shows the route that the conquering Babylonian army probably took because of the difficulty of crossing the Arabian Desert.
JEREMIAH THE PROPHET
10. Where was Jeremiah from? He was from the city of Anathoth (in Benjamin). It was his own people‚ his own kindred, that began to fight him first of all. The Lord let Jeremiah know that they were plotting against him. Here were his own kindred, the men of his own city, who threatened to kill him if he kept on speaking. Why? Well, maybe if there was a prophet who was from your town, and if this fellow was causing all this trouble, and you were worried about what people thought, you might want to disown him, maybe even get rid of him if you thought that the king might come down on your city and blame you! "We don't want this to reflect on us. This guy's from Anathoth. Let's get rid of him! Yeah! Everybody's going to know he's from our town! Let's kill him! Let's get rid of him!" (Father David, Jeremiah Tape)
Therefore, thus saith the Lord of the men of Anathoth‚ that seek thy life, saying "Prophesy not in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hand": Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold‚ I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: and there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation. (Jeremiah 1:1; 11:21-23)
11. Judah was going to fall to the Babylonians for her sins, but Jeremiah went everywhere telling the people that God would temper the judgement and not make it so severe if they would follow His instructions—but they refused. Jeremiah was hung in the stocks before the church door so the people could spit in his face. (ML 693:70)
12. Here is a photo of "Jeremiah's Grotto." It is said that Jeremiah lived in a cave in a cliff just outside the present north wall of Jerusalem. More than likely it was his hiding place. Jeremiah said, "Lord, this is too rough. Everybody hates me." (Jeremiah 20:17,18) But God encouraged him, "Don't worry, Jeremiah, your friends are going to mistreat you‚ but your enemies are going to be good to you. The enemy is going to be your friend. They're going to take care of you." (Father David, Jeremiah Tape)
13. & 14. Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord upon a roll of a book. Baruch then read the Words to all the people and princes. The princes told Baruch to go and hide with Jeremiah and they would read the roll to King Jehoikim. The King‚ however, could only stand to listen to three or four pages before he cut up the scroll with his penknife and threw it into the fire. So the Lord gave the message a second time to Jeremiah, with an angry P.S. for King Jehoikim. (Jeremiah 36)—It wasn't Jeremiah they were fighting, they were fighting God! (Father David, Jeremiah Tape)
15. Here is an artist's concept of what Jeremiah's faithful scribe, Baruch, may have looked like. Baruch often went and spoke to the people the message that Jeremiah had received from the Lord. (Jeremiah 36:5,6)
16. Jeremiah was dropped in the mud to his armpits to die. Fortunately‚ an Ethiopian friend, Ebed, came secretly and pulled him out. If you were to judge Jeremiah by his success, he was a flat failure, but he was faithful and delivered his soul! His own country branded him a traitor and a criminal, disloyal to his nation and his own people—they claimed that his preaching was helping to destroy Judah, which it was! But Jeremiah stayed loyal to God, and it was God Who was destroying Judah for her sins, using her enemies to do it, with the help of Jeremiah. God protected Jeremiah during the destruction and had the Babylonians rescue him from prison. (ML 693:71, 125:26)
God tries to spare His prophets if He can, but persecution is God's last stand. He's got to let them persecute the very ones who try to save them, that their cup of iniquity may be full. The proclamation of the message comes first, then the saving of those who receive it, then persecution of the saviours, and their departure, and finally the rod of judgement falls on the enemies! (ML 125:27,28)
17. Here we see the ruins of Mizpah with three rather soldier—like figures in the foreground. Here is where the new Babylonian-appointed governor resided after the fall of Jerusalem. The Babylonians released Jeremiah and treated him royally‚ giving him everything he needed, and told him he could live under the governor's protection. (ML 163:12)
18. When the refugees who fled to the fields, wildernesses and other countries heard that Jeremiah was being treated like a king, and that the new government was favouring his people, many of them returned and rejoined those who were left in the land. The governor, Gedaliah, told them, "Fear not to be servants of the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the King of Babylon; and it shall be well with you." (2Kings 25:22-24) But a man called Ishmael, and ten men with him, came and killed the new governor. Then, in fear of the Babylonians, the people asked Jeremiah what to do: Should they flee to Egypt or stay? Jeremiah told them to stay, because Egypt would soon be conquered by the Babylonian Empire—"the sword which ye feared‚ shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt...so shall My fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt." (See: Jeremiah 42)
"And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the armies, arose, and came to Egypt: for they were afraid of the Babylonians,"—(2Kings 25:26)—and they took Jeremiah with them. But Jeremiah just kept on prophesying, and told them that an even worse fate awaited them in Egypt. Baruch was almost overcome by the bleak outlook‚ but the Lord promised to save his life through it all and all the places he would go. (Jeremiah 45)
Ishtar Gate. A painting of a procession moving along Marduk's Way and entering Nebuchadnezzar's palace through the massive Ishtar Gate.
Jeremiah also foretold the fall of many nations to the Babylonian Empire, and then he foretold the fall of Babylon to the Medes. (Jer.51:11) Jeremiah had also foretold how long the captivity of the Jews in Babylon would last. (Jer.25:11) The prophecies of Jeremiah eventually ended up in the hands of Daniel the prophet, in Babylon (Daniel 9:2) who understood from them exactly how long it would be before the Jews could return to Jerusalem.
LIFE IN BABYLON
19. Here is an artist's concept of what the prophet Ezekiel may have looked like. Nearly all the prophets and men and leaders of God throughout the Bible and past ages were thought to be nuts by the rest of the World—dreamers, visionaries‚ hearing voices, having hallucinations, and pretty well flipped over religion.
It's the unconventionalist, idol smasher, breaker-downer‚ tearer-upper, rooter-outer, and destroyer, like Jeremiah, Ezekiel...and all the rest that really make the news! The crazy nuts like Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel—all these screwballs made news, dared to challenge their system‚ dared to be different, dared to buck the tide, dared to shock their generation. (ML 67:4‚5)
Babylonian chronicle for 605-594 B.C. describing the removal of King Jehoiachin and other Jewish prisoners to exile in Babylon.
Ezekiel was among the captives taken to Babylon during King Jehoiachin's rule, 597 B.C. (Ezekiel 1:1-3) Daniel was among the captives taken to Babylon in 606 B.C., nine years before.
20. Ezekiel saw many great visions and even foretold the coming of God's servant, David. (Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24‚25)
21. Here we see a Jewish rabbi. The Jews were supposed to be God's witnesses to the World, but instead they became such dandy bad examples, that God had to draw out the sword after them and scatter them to other nations in the first Dispersion. (ML 66:37)
The natural Jews do have a very important place in History and Bible prophecy, but we have gone beyond the limits of just Bible prophecies and the predictions for natural Israel and the Jews. The thing that is wrong with Israel is also wrong with the Church. They both have had the truth, and known the truth, and both have rejected it!—Two thousand years of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and they're still in rebellion! (Selected quotes, ML 66:9,16)
22. By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For they that carried us away captive required of us a song...Sing us one of the songs of Zion. (Psalm 137)
You could never appreciate the light unless you've been in darkness! You'll never appreciate Joy until you've known Sorrow! Help us not to quench that beautiful song, even if it's sad—to thank Thee in spite of the sorrow. (ML 114)
23. This picture was taken from a carved tablet unearthed in Babylon‚ and shows the timid Jewish captives—strangers in a strange land.
24. The Babylonian Empire.
25. Babylon was located on both sides of the Euphrates River, and was surrounded by a wall 60 miles (96 kilometers) long, 15 miles on each side, 300 feet high (as high as a 20-story building!), 80 feet thick (7 motor cars parked bumper to bumper in a line), and 35 feet below the surface so that the enemies could not dig under it.
26. Babylon had great gates of brass, and was modelled in many ways like the heavenly city of the future. It was an impregnable and unconquerable fortress. (ML 693:80) The famous "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" was one of the Seven Man–Made Wonders of the World. Story has it that they were built by King Nebuchadnezzar after his marriage to a princess from the mountains—he hoped that they would make her feel at home. Perhaps some of the Hebrew slaves helped build this incredible terraced garden, 75 feet above the ground‚ just as their forefathers had helped Pharoah build his great cities and pyramids. Slaves worked day and night turning special water pumps to irrigate it.
Ruins of the "Hanging Gardens" of Babylon.
27. What are the crowning achievements of man?—Buildings! The things that Man has built are pure death! There's nothing alive about them.... Eventually they get past the point of repair to where he can't even patch'm up anymore. It totally rots and wears away and collapses, as you can see by all the big buildings of the past glorious history of past civilisations. Where are they today? (ML 373:54, 56; Read all ML 373!)
28. These mounds at Birs-nimroud were once great buildings. Man's greatest pride is in his buildings—"The works of his hands" and they have always been his downfall, from the towers of Babel of yesterday to the temples of Mammon of today. Man glories in what he has made and prides himself in what he thinks are going to be his everlasting works, to influence with awe and wonder the generations to come. (ML 7:3)
29. Here is an artist's concept of the Jews arriving in Babylon after their 1000-mile trek from Jerusalem.
30. Nebuchadnezzar thought he was using Daniel, but God was letting Daniel use the king.—So he'd have a chance to really "freak out" on all that Bible Prophecy! In fact, God had Daniel using three different kings of two different empires to carry on God's business. (ML 27:22) The historians of the Old Testament have preserved a record which has left us breathless—and the words of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the prophets of old, were preserved for us by their scribes for the inspiration of future generations. (ML 29:5)
Sometimes the prophets...like Daniel and Ezekiel...were carried away captive so they could dwell in the king's palace‚ eat at his table, and enjoy his protection and promotion while they carried on the Lord's work, received their revelations, preached their Message‚ and carried out their jobs! It wasn't always easy—this ticklish and precarious position of living in the house of your enemy.... (ML 27:10)
31. Nebuchadnezzar told 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... and whom they might teach the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans... among these were...Daniel (Belteshazar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego). (Daniel 1:3–7)
32. The Lord showed Nebuchadnezzar a picture of the kingdoms of the World that looked like a beautiful statue. (Father David, Daniel 8 Flannelgraph‚ par.9) God gave the dream to Nebuchadnezzar and He gave the interpretation to Daniel. The Lord, wise and tactful‚ gave Nebuchadnezzar a rather complimentary and pleasing picture of Man's governments—the way Man looks at it—as a beautiful image of gold & silver & other things. If God had given Nebuchadnezzar a vision or dream like He later gave Daniel in the Seventh chapter, in which He envisioned Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom as a wild, ravenous, cruel beast—Nebuchadnezzar might not have liked it so well, and might have chopped Daniel's head off. (Father David, 7 World Empires Tape) Daniel didn't dare tell the King that one, because the King wouldn't have liked it! When God showed Daniel what the World was like...privately.... He showed him what the World looked like to God—that the countries and empires of the World were like great big monsters and Babylon was a lion with wings. (Daniel 7 Flannelgraph, par.5)
The head of the image was of fine gold‚ and in Daniel 2:38, Nebuchadnezzar is told that he, and his Babylonian Empire, are this head of gold. (Excerpt from 7 World Empires Tape, Father David)
33. Nebuchadnezzar liked to see himself as a big beautiful golden image. In fact, after he had this vision and everything, he had a great big golden statue made of himself for everybody to fall down and worship because he thought it was such a great dream and great vision. He didn't quite get the point! (Daniel 7 Flannelgraph, par.5; Daniel 8 Flannelgraph, par.10) Those who did not fall down and worship his image would be cast into the flames of a fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:1-12)
34. Keep trusting and obeying no matter what happens. Like the three Children of God who went into the fiery furnace in Daniel 3: They said, "Our God is able to deliver us, but if He doesn't, we're still not going to bow down to your God-damned system idol!"—And it looked like the end‚ because into the furnace they went, and it even killed their executioners! But because of their faith and obedience‚ God was with them there, too, and they came out without even the smell of smoke on them! (ML 313:46)
35. "Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? ... Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3:24,25)
36. & 37. Nebuchadnezzar had another dream, this time of a great tree that was cut down‚ leaving only the stump. All the magicians, astrologers, and soothsayers, could not tell the king the meaning of the dream, except Daniel, "master of the magicians ... for the spirit of the holy gods" was in him. (Daniel 4:4–27)
38. My own father, a great Bible teacher, used to say that perhaps part of the curse of the afterlife was that some people would be turned into the kind of animals that they were as men—pigs and dogs and swine and stubborn oxen or mules and things like that!... Maybe that's where the idea of reincarnation originated.... So if he has made a dog or a pig of himself, why could it not be that men as punishment should actually be compelled to take on such forms of such beasts in the afterlife, at least for a time as a purgatorial punishment or a retribution of the evil lives they have lived?
Nebuchadnezzar "walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth‚ there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar‚ to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee.... thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times (years) shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." (Daniel 4:28-32)
39. In the end God took out the beast's heart and put in the heart of a man. That shows you that Nebuchadnezzar got saved, God gave him a new heart‚ see? (Daniel 7 Flannelgraph, par.7) Nebuchadnezzar was converted, but his son Belshazzar was the last king when Babylon was destroyed. Obviously the Devil tried to possess Nebuchadnezzar and caused his downfall for 7 years; but because he had acknowledged Daniel and God and his belief in them and repented of his iniquity and came back to the Lord, the Lord restored him. But the Devil must have possessed one of the kings of Babylon, probably the last one, Belshazzar, the son of Nebuchadnezzar. (ML 961:22,23)
Belshazzar took the vessels of gold and silver that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Lord's temple in Jerusalem and at a great feast‚ he, his princes, his wives and concubines drank wine from them, "... and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass‚ of iron, of wood‚ and of stone." (Daniel 5:1-4)
40. "In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote... MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN." (Daniel 5:5-25)
41. Daniel was now an old man‚ and he had been in Babylon nearly 70 years. The king called Daniel to interpret the message. "This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (ML 693:83)
42. However, despite the handwriting on the wall‚ the Babylonians ate, drank, and made merry while the Medes and Persians were crawling under the wall to capture Babylon. That night Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, was slain and Darius the Mede took the kingdom‚ himself about 62 years old. (ML 693:84)
43. Darius set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first. But when the king sought to set Daniel over the whole realm‚ the other presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel.
44. But Daniel was faithful and the jealous rulers couldn't find any error or fault in him, except perhaps his devotion to God. (Daniel 6:1-5)
45. These wicked men persuaded the king to sign and seal a decree forbidding anyone to pray to anyone else but Darius the king for a period of thirty days. Anyone who disobeyed would be thrown into a den of lions. Naturally Daniel was caught breaking this law, and though King Darius realized his foolish mistake for signing such a foolish law, he was forced to let Daniel be cast into the lion's den. (Daniel 6:6-17)
46. to 51. Darius didn't eat or sleep the whole night, and early in the morning he hurried to the lion's den and called out to Daniel, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?"
Daniel answered, "O king‚ live forever. My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths...innocency was found in me...." (Daniel 6:18-23)
The king ordered that Daniel be taken out of the lions' den and his accusers be cast into the lions instead, "and the lions had the mastery of them." (Dan.6:24)
52. In spite of everything the enemy can do, God has always brought us through, and simply used our enemies to glorify Him...and there are plenty of enemies who are always ready to make things hot for you...as with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, or Daniel in the lions' den‚ or Nehemiah on the wall! (ML 27:10)
Daniel interprets the handwriting on the wall.
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER 29
(The numbers in parentheses are the paragraph numbers where the answers may be found.)
1. What great prophet of God warned the people of Jerusalem of the coming destruction at the hands of the Babylonians? (Introduction)
2. Had King Zedekiah really been fair and honest with the Babylonians? (Intro,4)
3. How do you think the Jews reacted to having Jeremiah tell them not to fight but to surrender to the Babylonians? (10)
4. What happened to Jeremiah when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem? (17)
5. "It wasn't Jeremiah they were fighting, they were fighting ______!" (13 & 14)
6. Who helped Jeremiah write his prophecies down? (13 & 14)
7. Jeremiah was taken to what country from Judah? (18)
8. What is the biggest problem with the Jews and the churches today? (21)
9. Babylon was built on what river? (25)
10. What are the crowning achievements of man? (27)
11. What two dreams did Nebuchadnezzar have? (32,36,37)
12. Who said, "Our God is able to deliver us"? (34)
13. What did God do to humble Nebuchadnezzar? Did Nebuchadnezzar get saved? (38,39)
14. What was Belshazzar's last big mistake? What did the handwriting on the wall say? (39-41)
15. What happened to Daniel when King Darius took over? (43)
16. Why did Daniel get thrown in the lions' den? (44-51)