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Wednesday, August 8 2012
Israel In History and Prophecy: The Return Of Judah
Judah's Seventy Years Of Exile
Israel became a united kingdom after the Civil War (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Saul and David and Israel In History and Prophecy: The Civil War). The united kingdom of Israel divided into two separate and independent kingdoms (see Kings of Israel and Judah) after the reigns of King David and King Solomon, because of Solomon's idolatry (see Israel In History and Prophecy: King David and Israel In History and Prophecy: Solomon).
After existing as an independent kingdom for over two centuries, when the people of "Israel" became defiantly corrupt before the LORD, He had them conquered and taken away to Assyria. "Israel" never returned - they are still known today as the "lost ten tribes" (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Lost Ten Tribes).
"17:20 And the LORD [see Who Is The LORD?] rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. 17:21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin. 17:22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; 17:23 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day." (2 Kings 17:20-23 KJV)
About 130 years after the fall of Israel to Assyria, when the people of the kingdom of Judah (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Kingdom Of Judah) also became corrupt before the LORD, just like Israel had done, He had them conquered and taken away to Babylon (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Back To Babylon), which by then had conquered and taken over the territory held by the Assyrian Empire. Unlike the people of Israel ("the lost ten tribes"), the people of Judah were allowed to return to their homeland, after a prescribed and prophesied seventy years (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Prophets). The return was permitted by the Persian Empire (Persia is known today as Iran; see Israel In History and Prophecy: Babylon and Persia), which by then had conquered and taken over the territory held by the Babylonian (or "Chaldean") Empire.
"36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers [again, see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Prophets], 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 [see The Mocker's Folly], and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. 36:17 Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand. 36:18 And all the vessels of the house of God [see The Temple Vessel Prophecies Today], great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. 36:19 And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof.
Ezra and Nehemiah
The return of the kingdom of Judah (seventy years after the exile began, very few, if any, of the original exiled rebels would have still been alive) would be accomplished under the leadership responsibility of Ezra, a Levite, and Nehemiah, who would be the first governor of the restored land of Judah. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are a detailed history of that return.
"1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
The first to return found the city of Jerusalem to be little more than a heap of ash and rubble - left desolate exactly as prophesied ("for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years"). We first read of Nehemiah when, while he was yet only the cupbearer of the Persian king, he heard the reports of the state of Jerusalem: "the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire."
"1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, 1:2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 1:3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. 1:4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven" (Nehemiah 1:1-4 KJV)
Nehemiah was sent, by the LORD, to restore Jerusalem as a city. The LORD provided the means to do so by the Persian king, who then held Judea and Jerusalem within the territory of his empire (he would continue to do so until his Persian Empire fell to the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great over a century later - as prophesied by the prophet Daniel who was still back in Persia, after his years in Babylon; see also The Prophets: Daniel).
"2:1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2:2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 2:3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?
Upon his arrival, Nehemiah surveyed the ruins - and then immediately mustered the people to work.
"2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 2:12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon.
The Rebuilding Of Jerusalem
The rebuilding was not an easy task. Just removing the massive amount of rubble, by sheer human labor, was itself a monumental effort. Other occupants of the land opposed and threatened them most of the time. But by sheer tenacity the city of Jerusalem and the Temple rose from the dust.
"6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. 6:16 And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God." (Nehemiah 6:15-16 KJV)
With the city and the Temple restored, or at least existing again, Ezra then read the Law of God, as a reminder that it was the reason that their ancestors were given Jerusalem, and why they had lost everything when they had forsaken the LORD.
"8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel.
Through the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah, Jerusalem was re-established as the capital city of the people, if not the nation, of the people of Judah. Neither the city, nor the Temple, was restored to their magnificence in the time of Solomon, but that was for the good - it was vanity that had gotten the city, the Temple, and the nation, destroyed.
Fact Finder: (a) When and where did the actual Levite priesthood originate? (b) When and where did the Pharisees and Sadducees originate? (c) Why didn't most of the Levite priesthood at the time of the coming of the Messiah recognize Him?
This Day In History, August 8
1220: The Battle of Lihula. Swedish forces were routed by Estonian tribes.
1306: King Wenceslas of Poland was murdered.
1503: King James IV of Scotland married Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII of England.
1570: King Charles IX of France signed the Treaty of St. Germain, ending the third war of religion and giving religious freedom to the Huguenots (French protestants).
1576: The cornerstone for Tycho Brahe's Uraniborg observatory was laid on Hven.
1648: Ibrahim (from the Arabic form of Abraham; see Israel In History and Prophecy: Roots and Branches and 'Raghead' Racism), the sultan of Istanbul, was thrown into prison, and later killed.
1786: The first ascent of Mont Blanc was completed by Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard and his porter, Jacques Balmat.
1918: During the First World War (1914-1918), the Battle of Amiens began. Allied forces advanced on a 10-mile front against 20 German divisions and took 16,000 prisoners in 2 hours.
1929: The German airship Graf Zeppelin began a circumnavigation of the earth flight.
1940: The German Luftwaffe attacked Britain for the first time, beginning the Battle of Britain.
1942: During the Second World War, six Germans, who were put ashore on Long Island in June, became the first saboteurs to be executed in the U.S. They were electrocuted in a District of Colombia jail.
1963: Britain's "Great Train Robbery" took place when a gang held up the Glasgow to London mail train and stole 2.6 million pounds.
1974: President Richard Nixon announced that he was resigning for his part in the Watergate crimes, effective at noon the next day. Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford, thereafter took the very unusual step of pardoning Nixon for the crimes that he committed before he was formally charged with them (some legal experts question whether Ford himself committed obstruction of justice by pardoning someone who hadn't yet been convicted of anything).
1988: U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar announced that a cease-fire in the eight-year-old Gulf war between Iran and Iraq was to begin on August 20.
1988: Russian troops began their retreat out of Afghanistan, 9 years after their unsuccessful invasion to fight the Taliban began (ironically, the Taliban were assisted and supplied with arms by the U.S., who later fought the same Taliban when the U.S. took its turn at invading Afghanistan).