The Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt and eventually into their own land with an agreement, or covenant, that depended upon their commitment and obedience to the Law of Moses. For His part, God promised to protect His people, shower them with blessing after blessing, forgive their sins and shortcomings, heal their diseases, and defend them against their enemies as well as the trials and tribulations of life. His primary request in return was for them not to reject Him in favor of other gods. If the peoples’ heart was to perpetually turn away from Him in pursuit of foreign idols, it would then be time for the Lord to show “tough love”: – to pull back on some of His blessings to allow the people to experience what these other gods could or could not do for them.
As it turns out, the idols could not do much. Many of the kings of Judah that came after David, including even Solomon, turned away from the Lord as they worshiped other gods from the surrounding region. Their worship often included evil practices of sexual immorality and, in the case of Molech, even child sacrifice. For decade after decade, the Lord warned His people through the prophets and occasional faithful king to stop doing this and begged them to turn back to Him. But His pleas mostly fell on deaf ears, and in the end, God had no choice but to turn them over to King Nebuchadnezzar to face a long exile in Babylon.
Among the early exiles from Jerusalem was the young prophet, Daniel. Decades later, when he had reached his seventies, the empire of Babylon was no more. Daniel was now residing in the court of the Medo-Persians under King Darius. And through his study of the holy books, the scriptures of that time, he experienced a spiritual insight:
2 in the first year of his reign—I, Daniel, understood from the books that according to the word of Adonai to Jeremiah the prophet, the number of the years for the fulfilling of the desolation of Jerusalem would be 70 years. 3 So I set my face to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:2-3 (TLV)
Daniel was reading and deeply impacted by the writings of Jeremiah, God’s prophetic mouthpiece to Judah in the decades prior to Babylon’s invasion. Jeremiah prophesied sober words of warning and had key information about the coming exile:
4 Moreover, Adonai has sent to you all His servants the prophets, sending them early and often—but you have not listened or inclined your ear to hear— 5 saying: ‘Turn, now, everyone from his evil way, and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell in the land that Adonai has given to you and to your fathers forever and ever. 6 Do not go after other gods to serve them, to worship them, and so do not provoke Me with the work of your hands, so I would do you no harm.’
7 “Yet you have not listened to Me,” declares Adonai. “So you are provoking Me with the work of your hands, to your own hurt.” Jeremiah 25:4-7 (TLV)
11 “So this whole land will be a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. 12 Then it will come to pass, when 70 years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,” declares Adonai, “the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, and I will make it ruins forever. Jeremiah 25:11-12 (TLV)
Daniel saw from the holy books that in God’s prophetic timetable, the exile of Judah in Babylon was to last seventy years. He understood that after this time, Babylon was to be judged by Medo-Persia for their attack on Judah and that his people would be allowed to begin returning to their land to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and God’s temple. This inspired Daniel to pray earnestly for the Lord’s healing and forgiveness for the nation.
God often uses prophecy to inspire and instruct us about near-term as well as long-term events in our future. Sometimes, He will describe multiple events with a single prophecy. As the Creator of all things including space and time, God is able to live outside of the physical restrictions we face in order to know what is coming and to share “the end from the beginning”. It is to our great profit, as it was to Daniel, to spend time in the scriptures to learn, to glean, to be strengthened, and to be spiritually fed “from the books” of the Lord.
With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Lord will use His scriptures to personally teach and encourage us, speaking uniquely to our souls with a message of love. When we make time to spend with God and His word, the benefits and blessings we reap are without limit. May we enjoy His special presence in His holy word today.
Lord, thank You for Your word. Help us to remove the distractions that keep us from spending time with You in the scriptures. Be present as we read the word, burning Your truth and presence into our souls through the power of Your Holy Spirit. May our fellowship time be a wellspring of peace, serenity, power, and joy at the feet of Jesus. Grant us new understanding and insight today as we study Your precious word. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.