From this point on these articles will be verse or section by section. Historical perspective will be included to help understand what was going on in the lives of God’s chosen people and other nations at this time.
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.
The book of Daniel opens with an historical statement. Critics of the Bible and of the book of Daniel in particular have questioned the historical accuracy of this statement on two counts; firstly, they say, there is no record of the siege other than this verse, therefore, they conclude, it could not have happened. Secondly, they say that in the third year of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar was not yet king, yet Daniel declares him ‘king of Babylon’.
As regards to the siege; we know from Daniel chapter two that Daniel was in Babylon by the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, and that by then he had been there for three years; so how else did he get there if this siege is supposed not to have occurred? The truth is that these objections have now been thoroughly refuted by archaeological discoveries and competent scholarship. The writings of Berosus and Josephus, along with the accounts in Kings, Chronicles and Daniel all support the fact that Nebuchadnezzar did come into Palestine early in the reign of king Jehiokim; Berosus and Josephus also agrees with the Books of 1 & 2 Chronicles and Daniel in affirming that captives were taken from Judea to Babylon during this time.
Regarding when Nebuchadnezzar became king, it is true that Nebuchadnezzar did not officially become king until after he had laid siege to Jerusalem. Josephus records that Nebopolassar died while Nebuchadnezzar was in Palestine (606B.C.), thus by the Babylonian way of reckoning, Nebuchadnezzar’s first year would have been 605 B.C. (the year of ascension was not counted, being the final year of the previous king). So was Daniel wrong to call Nebuchadnezzar ‘king of Babylon’ before he was in fact crowned king? Of course not, Daniel was not writing a running commentary and in all likelihood did not start writing immediately when he was taken captive as a teenager to Babylon. Thus for Daniel to write about events that had taken place and refer to Nebuchadnezzar as ‘king’ would be no different than us talking about what Queen Elizabeth of England did as a child, when in fact she was an adult before she actually received the title of Queen. If this were not a satisfactory answer (which it is) then appeal can be made to the manor and custom of the time, of which we now have ample evidence, to show that the king designate could also be properly referred to as ‘king’ while his father was still alive and reigning (another example of this occurs with Belshazzar in Daniel chapter 5).
Critics of the Bible are much like a man who cannot do a crossword puzzle so he blames the puzzle or the designer of the puzzle. It would be foolish to claim that the puzzle was in error simply because of a lack of understanding. There is a beautiful simplicity in the Bible when one trusts it. Paul suggests that God does this on purpose to trap the so-called wise in their supposed wisdom: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
“It is a fool who fights against a two edged sword with nothing more than convincing words” (Anonymous)
Whenever you meet a supposed contradiction in the Bible, don’t just reject it, search for the answer and, more often than not, it will reveal a fascinating insight. “It is the glory of God to conceal things: but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).
And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand ..
This is an incredible statement of faith on the part of Daniel. Israel had been living in fear of the Babylonians, fueled mainly by Babylon’s conquest of the surrounding nations, but no doubt added to by prophets like Jeremiah and Habakkuk who repeatedly warned that God was going to use the king of Babylon to judge Israel. God told Habakkuk “I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans 9aka Babylonians), that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs.” (Hab1:5-6). Jeremiah prophesied: “this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years”. (Jeremiah 25:11) When Habakkuk and Jeremiah prophesied this, Babylon was nothing more than just a city state of the then great Assyrian Empire. This is partly why so many false prophets had risen up who didn’t want to bother with all this ‘doom and gloom’ prophecy stuff; who takes prophecies literally anyway? That’s just for the fundamentalists, right? – Sound like today’s religious institutions?
Well Daniel was a fundamentalist and he believed that prophecies should be taken seriously; God says what He means and means what he says! As a matter of fact Jeremiah was a fundamentalist as well! He even spoke out against the liberal theologians of his day – no wonder he was unpopular, he obviously didn’t know that it’s not politically correct to criticize others in public – he said: “Then I said: “Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.'”
And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:13-15).
The parallels with today’s church are uncanny. In Jeremiah’s day the great spiritual leaders were going around telling everyone ‘peace, peace’ but as Jeremiah said: ‘there is no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:13-14). Today on God TV and TBN (not that I have found on SBN) it’s the same; we have spiritual leaders telling countless viewers that we are heading for a time of peace and prosperity, a great revival is coming and the church will win the world! Apparently we will unite with our Catholic and Muslim brothers and sisters and there will be peace and unity! – I don’t think so!!! Fact is…I KNOW so.
TAKE CLOSE NOTE: Just as in Jeremiah’s day, judgment is coming: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Jesus warned us in Matthew 13 that prior to the wheat being gathered into His barn (a picture of the Rapture), the tares in the church (false prophets and deceivers) would be gathered together into bundles to be burned.
Thus we see here an incredible model. Jeremiah had told the people that they would be safe if they trusted God and left Jerusalem when the time came. Those who despise, reject, or deny the prophecies would be destroyed. Today, those who are trusting in Jesus alone for their salvation and are ready and waiting will be taken to His Father’s house where they will be safe (John14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Those trusting in their church attendance or *denomination, or 5-step peace program by which they hope to gain the world ‘saying peace, peace when there is no peace’ – these will be cast into tribulation, where there will be no spiritual light, just anguish and pain. This is just scratching the surface of a vitally important topic. Consider seriously the ancient collapse of the Jewish nation, divided into two kingdoms, then gone. It was brought about by compromise and idolatry, and compare it to the church in the days we are living in; i.e. the time of the Gentiles. If God judged Israel as we read; do we honestly expect the God who is the same yesterday, today and to turn a blind eye to a church that openly embraces things that are an abomination to God?
*This will undoubtedly infuriate many but here is the asterix parallel. Today’s denominations, a dividing of “the church” puts each denomination at odds. Simply put (and here comes the anger) denominations put themselves above or the equal to the only church as Jesus intended. Since it comes before the church Jesus intended, it is now a idol to which affiliates cling and bow at the knee defending to the hilt his or her “denomination.” Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4: 4 & 5
Despite how it seemed on the surface, because he trusted God’s word through the mouths of the prophets, Daniel knew that God was very much in control and so he says: “the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his (Nebuchadnezzar’s) hand”. This was no accident or haphazard event.
Nubuchadnezzar…..” with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god”
Another example of the literal fulfillment of prophecy in this verse is the fact that Nebuchadnezzar carried away the vessels of the Temple. About 120 years before this, the son of the then king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and was given a guided tour by King Hezekiah. We read in 2nd Kings: “Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And from where did they come to you?” And Hezekiah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” He said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.” Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD. (2 Kings 20:14-18).
To be continued next week – Rev. Dr. Jstark