Babylon Surrounded Judah

Daniel 1:1-7

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Daniel is, no shocker, the author of the book of Daniel, and he happens to be the main character.  It is believed that he was taken captive to Babylon when he was about 17 and lived there until he was about 60.  Babylon’s location is what we know as modern-day Iraq and is located approximately 50 miles south of Baghdad.

One of the reasons I chose this book at this time is because it is full of dreams, visions, and prophesy.  These are all areas I am developing in my personal relationship with God and so it just seems right to invite you all along with me on this journey as well.  

The book of Daniel covers prophetic visions and revelations that cover the time period beginning with Babylon and it extends to our current time period and some still haven’t been fulfilled and so they continue, covering well over 2,600 years.

Daniel had apocalyptic visions that he recorded, and he was told to “seal his book” until the time of the end and knowledge would be increased, and people would understand the prophesies.  We are living in that time; we have increased knowledge and we are able to understand these prophesies.  

At this point in history prophets have warned for 100 years that the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem and along with it the temple.  Isaiah began to prophesy to Judah specifically touching on judgement coming to them because of their spiritual apostacy.  Then Jeremiah came along, and he was able to see Isaiah’s prophecies materialize.  He saw that captivity was imminent.

Moving along to Ezekiel.  Ezekiel prophesied to a group of exiles in Babylon.  The previous Prophets spoke on judgement, Ezekiel was able to prophesy with hope, his prophesies gave the exiles hope.

Daniel is also a prophet who prophesied during Babylonian captivity, except his ministry looked vastly different.  Daniel was able to prophesy from a place of leadership.  Ezekiel was in amongst his people; Daniel was a great ruler in this Babylonian society.  He served in this capacity for two of the three Babylonian attacks.  He was a Jewish man in a pagan world who was used by God to share God’s heart.  Daniel was placed in a government office to defend God’s people and to continually remind the Israelites that God loved them.  We should be so blessed to have a man of God in a position of power to defend us as Christians.  God still loved and still was looking out for the best interest of his children.

Nebuchadnezzar was currently the king of Babylon and came against Jerusalem three times.  It was the second attack and during Jehoiakim’s reign around the years 598/597 BC that King Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city of Jerusalem.  2 Kings 24:13-14 records, he took “all Jerusalem, and all the princes and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths; non remained”.

His third attack brought on Jerusalem’s destruction.  With each attack Babylon would seize sacred items until finally there would be nothing left of Jerusalem.

Daniel begins with the first Babylonian invasion.   READ Daniel 1:1-5

King Jehoiakim is in his third reign over Judah and king Nebuchadnezzar, king over Babylon attacked Jerusalem and besieged it.  Why did Babylon attack Judah?  God allowed them to move in because this nation turned from God.  Jehoiakim led Jerusalem down the path of disaster.

A Google search came up with this quote: Rabbinical literature describes Jehoiakim as a godless tyrant who committed atrocious sins and crimes. He is portrayed as living in incestuous relations with his mother, daughter-in-law, and stepmother, and was in the habit of murdering men, whose wives he then violated and whose property he seized. 

Jeremiah tried to speak reason to him by sharing God’s word, but his heart was hardened and ultimately, he chose to burn the word of God, the Jewish people became so sick of hearing this message of repentance they literally tossed Jeremiah into a cistern pit then later got him out.  Jeremiah did rewrite the burned scroll.  God said Jehoiakim would be killed by being tossed outside the gates.  He was killed during the siege when his body was tossed over the city wall. 

I say all this so we can begin to understand why God was so angry.  Where were God’s people, they just sat back and let this wicked man rule over them.  Did they even try to stand up to him or did they just go along with the status quo?  Maybe they were just afraid of standing out, perhaps they were told it was for their own good and to do otherwise would mean they didn’t care about others.  Either way the king was evil, and the people refused to get together and take a stand, they had gone too far and know there was no turning back.  God had given them 100 years to repent, they didn’t they only became more wicked.

Babylon surrounded Jerusalem with armed forces with the goal to capture and to force them to surrender.   This is the first attack Babylon had on Jerusalem and it was at this first attack that Babylon seized not only articles from the temple of God, but they also seized Israelite’s who belonged to the royal family. 

The temple articles were taken to the land of Shinar to the house of the king’s pagan god.  Some of the captives were taken to the king where they would begin their “training” for service to the king.  Taking a step back to verse 2 where it says, “And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand”.  Israel was delivered to Babylon because she disobeyed God’s word regarding covenant-keeping, the sabbath years and idolatry. They chose a pagan lifestyle and here they are being handed over to a pagan nation.   

Notice the Babylonians didn’t seize all of Jerusalem at once.  They did this in a three-part plan.  The first phase is what we are talking about now.  They knew they it would be difficult to completely occupy the entire nation.  They had complete domination as their main goal, they also realized that to do this they would need some of the Jewish leaders working for them. 

That’s where the royal family members came in.  They wanted to train up Jewish leaders to be their leaders.  They wanted to transform the minds of these Jewish leaders into becoming Babylonian leaders. 

The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief official, to bring in young men with royal blood, who were handsome and without any defects.  He was to select young men who were favored, intelligent, cunning, and well educated.  He wanted young men with magnetic personalities, but not just all looks, they had to have brains and bronze, the perfect blend of nerd and jock.  The full package.

They were going to spend the next three years undergoing rigorous training to become Chaldeans.  They would learn the culture, the language and even develop their mindset.  This transformation along with being Jews would give the Babylonians the ability to rule them.  The Jews would follow these men and listen to them.

The kings three-part plan is laid out in vs. 4-5, step 1:  indoctrinate them into the Chaldean lifestyle.  They wanted to erase their history, get them to embrace a culture that does not serve God. 

Step 2:  Pull them away from their upbringing of being set apart.  They will be social with the Chaldeans, creating and building relationships with gentiles, becoming emotionally connected with them, eating, and drinking the foods God’s law prohibited. 

Step 3:  They would then be ready to enter service for king Nebuchadnezzar.  They would be completely under his control and in turn control the Jewish people according to the king’s laws not God’s laws.

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