Daniel 1:1-2 History and the Hand of God

https://gracebiblechurchpdx.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/10-13-13-daniel-1-1-2-mans-history-gods-hand-pastor-ken-garrett.mp3

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

I.  The History of the Fall of Jerusalem 1-2

1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon

A.  God’s king was defeated 

1.  The loser, Jehoiakim, king of Judah

  • Gladly served as vassal king to Egypt, and then to Babylon.
  • To raise tribute to pay to Egypt’s king, Jehoiakim used the forced, unpaid labor of his own countrymen.
  • Could not be trusted, either by Jews or Egyptians, or Babylonians. 
  • Notoriously attacked anyone who suggested “bad news” to him.  When he was read the writings of Jeremiah the prophet, (whom he later arrested and held prisoner in an empty well/cistern), he took out a pen-knife and cut up the Scriptures!  (Jer 36:22ff)

2.  The winner, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon

  • Nebuchadnezzar” = one of the most amazing, imposing military/ruling kings in the human history. 
  • Three deportations to Babylon: 605, 597, and 586 B.C.  The Babylonian army destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586BC.

B.  God’s city was surrounded and sacked 1b

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

1.  The loser, Jerusalem, capital of Israel

  • “besieged it” = one of the three main attacks on the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  While the initial defeat happened in 605 BC, the city finally was destroyed in 586 BC.
  • Deu 28: 49 “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,
  •  F.B. Meyer offers a poignant description of the siege and fall of the city of Jerusalem.  After describing the influx of citizens from the country, and its horrible drain on the resources and infrastructure of the city’s few, precious resources, he goes on to describe the final days of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.

…So much for the earlier months of the siege:  but as the days passed on, darker shadows gathered.  It was as though the very pit of hell added in human passion the last dread horrors of the scene.  The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, lay by scores in the recesses of the houses, broken like earthen pitchers, the work of the hand of the potter!  The women become cruel, and refused to spare from their breasts for their young the nutriment they needed for themselves.  The tongues of the sucking babes become so dry and parched, that they could no longer cry.  Young children, whose weakness constituted a first claim, asked for bread, and asked in vain. (Jeremiah—Priest and Prophet, F.B. Meyer, Christian Literature Crusade, page 143.)

  • After the fall of Jerusalem in 605 BC, the nation of Israel did not exist as an independent, self-governing state for over 2,500 years, until 1948.

2.  The winner, Babylon, capital of Mesopotamia

  • There was a remarkable renaissance of learning, music, literature during the Second Babylonian kingdom.
  • The city of Babylon itself would impress even if it existed today, for sake of its defensive walls, canal system, parks, gardens, palaces, temples, roadways, gates, and cavernous public buildings.

C.  God’s temple was pillaged. 2

2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

1.  The loser, Solomon’s Temple…  2a

  • Note:  The Lord “gave” both the king of Judah (Eliakim) and the sacred utensils of the temple into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.  [Arguably, Nebuchadnezzar also was given the youth of Judah—as had been prophesied to Hezekiah by Isaiah the prophet (Isa 39).]
  • As horrific as the thought is, the texts argues that God’s relationship with Nebuchadnezzar was much like that of an offended landlord hiring out a mercenary to forcibly evict His people off of the land, and out of the city of Jerusalem!  Thus, it is more true to say that Nebuchadnezzar did not steal the Temple’s treasure, but received it from the hand of the God of the Temple!

2.  …the winner, the temple of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian gods 2b

  • and he brought them to the land of Shinar, = (Gen 10-11: Nimrod settled and built a human-ruled kingdom, people settled, against God’s will, Tower of Babel…)
  • to the house of his god(s), and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. “along with some of the vessels of the house of God…” =  the symbolic humiliation of God, and the safe-guarding of the vast wealth taken from the Temple in Jerusalem.  In the culture of the ancient Middle East, temples were also as banks–they were the safest place to store material wealth, such as the items that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem.

II.         The hardest part of the story:  It was the hand of God that handed over His people and their city!  2

2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

  • It is notable that the God here is Adonai—the personal, Hebrew name for God.  Despite Nebuchadnezzar’s presumption that he himself was responsible for the defeat of Israel—the text allows for no such possibility.  
  • Psa 44   12 You sell Your people cheaply, And have not profited by their sale.

A.  His means of destroying and pillaging His people: Nebuchadnezzar, God’s “servant”!

  • Nebuchadnezzar, “My servant” (!):  Jer 25   8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. = Like a boss paying a private contractor, God “paid” Nebuchadnezzar to defeat Israel.

B.  His reason the discipline of His people

  because you have not obeyed My words…  

  • From Moses (Deut, Lev) to Solomon in the dedication of the Temple, to Isiah 39, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel and Habakkuk, it had been made abundantly clear in their Scriptures that the price of persistent, unrepentant sin against God, and violation of His covenant with them would result in His forcible eviction of His people from their own land, for 70 years.

III.        The (oftentimes hard) mystery of God’s Hand in Our Suffering

A.  Is God really the author of hardship?  God is frequently named as the source of hardship and suffering in the lives of His dearest saints…

  • It is Job crying out, “   17 “For He bruises me with a tempest And multiplies my wounds without cause. 18 “He will not allow me to get my breath, But saturates me with bitterness. (Job 9)
  • It’s Naomi complaining, after the death of her husband and both of her sons in a foreign land, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 “I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
  • It is Jeremiah saying, “ 7 O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me.  8 For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the LORD has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. Jer 20
  • It is David saying, “He has weakened my strength in the way; He has shortened my days.”  (Ps 102) = “God, You’ve made me WEAKER, not stronger, and You’ve SHORTENED my life expectancy!”
  • It is Psalmist who wrote, “You sell Your people cheaply, And have not profited by their sale. (Psalm 44:12)
  • But it is also Jesus fervently praying to God that the experience of the Cross might be avoided, but that He would put God’s “will” before His own, and go to that Cross.
  • It is Jesus crying out with a loud voice on a dark Friday afternoon, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!”

CONCLUSION: So where is there hope to be found in suffering?

THE CROSS!  We don’t always know what God is accomplishing in our dark nights, but we DO know what He accomplished on the DARKEST day of human history—the day Jesus hung on a Cross.

  • From  a historical point of view it was just another Roman crucifixion—just another case of a government used by religion to get rid of a Troublemaker…
  • But in view of the hand of God in the crucifixion, something utterly amazing and marvelous happened… heaven’s door was opened for sinners!
  • The who, what, where, and whens of history will never bring us to the deeper meaning behind the things that happen to us–only God possesses the WHYs that we long to know.  And despite the darkness that might best describe the present chapter of your life–believers are blessed to know the end of the “book,” the whys of history–God is at work to bring about His own glory displayed in all creation, and the promised redemption of His people!
  • Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head, for sinners such as I?  By God’s plan, YES!
  • Hope is found when we press beyond the mere history of trouble to see the hand of God at work in our lives through the greatest hope—the Cross of Christ.
  • Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

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