Major Prophets (part 5) – Book of Daniel

English: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the...

English: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Furnace (Dan. 3:23-24,91-98) Русский: Седрах, Мисах и Авденаго в раскалённой печи (Дан. 3:23-24,91-98) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 605 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar brought young men of noble heritage in Judah back for service in the king’s court. Daniel and his friends were part of one of these groups (Daniel 1:3). So his life in captivity was quite different from that of Ezekiel and many others less fortunate. According to Daniel 1:21, he served there until the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which would be about 538 B.C.

Daniel is a very important book in the Old Testament. It contains much prophecy that was fulfilled with undeniable accuracy (critics and skeptics notwithstanding). As has always been the case, even disputed passages have held up under the test of time (take, for example, Daniel’s use of the name Belshazzar in Daniel 5). It also teaches through Daniel’s life and that of his friends, Shadrach, Meshach,, and Abednego, a great deal about living faithfully under very great adversity. Finally, and most importantly, it teaches us much about the power of God, and His faithfulness to His word.

Daniel's Answer to the King

Daniel’s Answer to the King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fulfilled prophecies from the Book of Daniel are a great source of assurance to believers for their accuracy. Skeptics and critics, as is always the case, dispute much concerning them of course. But they too have stood the test of time. A detailed account and analysis of all of these in one blog would be an exercise in futility. But for some great analysis of two of them, as well as answers for critics, take a look at this article from Apologetics Press concerning Daniel 2, and this article concerning prophecies in Daniel 8.

Belshazzar's Feast depicts a vision described ...

Belshazzar’s Feast depicts a vision described in the biblical Book of Daniel. –31&src= Daniel 5:1–31 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Summary

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Advertisement

Major Prophets (part 3) Book of Jeremiah

Prophet Jeremiah, Russian icon from first quar...

Prophet Jeremiah, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Book of Jeremiah is one of the books of the “major prophets,” which are so called not because they are more important than those that we know as the “minor prophets,” but because of their length. There are 5 books of major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) compared to twelve of minor prophets. Jeremiah is 52 chapters in length.

Jeremiah was a preacher of God’s word – a priest. He was called to be a prophet about 627 B.C. as a youth (Jeremiah 1:6), and served as such for 40 years (Jeremiah 1:2-3), making it likely that he was born ~650-645 B.C. He became a priest living in Anathoth – the land of Benjamin (Jeremiah 1:1). This was where Abiathar, the high priest during David’s reign, lived. But Jeremiah’s ancestral heritage is unknown. Abiathar was removed as priest by Solomon for his part in support of Adonijah (1 Kings 2:12-27), which fulfilled the Lord’s prophecy of the end of the house of Eli as priests way back in 1 Samuel 2:27-36.

Jeremiah is referred to by many as “the weeping prophet” (see this previous post on Lamentations). But this tends to convey a mistaken image of him as weak. Jeremiah was anything but weak. He lived a very difficult life, and was imprisoned, nearly put to death (Jeremiah 26), and even banned from the Temple for preaching the truth as God told Him (Jeremiah 36:5).

At least part of the Book of Jeremiah was dictated to his scribe, Baruch, to write on scroll (Jeremiah 36:1-4). Some scholars have referred to the book by such descriptions as a “scrapbook” or diary that was pieced together by topic or content. The book is not in chronological order, and remembering that as one reads it helps put things in context. For that reason, we have included an approximate chronological order for the book at the end of this blog.

English: "Jeremiah Dictating His Prophecy...

English: “Jeremiah Dictating His Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem to Baruch the Scribe,” oil on canvas, by the American artist Washington Allston. 89 3/8 in. x 74 3/4 in. Yale University Art Gallery, gift of Samuel Finley Breese Morse, B.A. 1810. Courtesy of Yale University, New Haven, Conn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The book is set in the time after the fall of the Assyrians and the rise of the Babylonians to power. Jeremiah witnessed the capture and removal of multiple groups of the people of Judah to Babylon, as well as the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. He was called to speak to God’s people during the times of revival under king Josiah, and continued on past the final fall to Babylon.

Summary of Jeremiah

Approximate Chronolgical Order

  • During the reign of Josiah
    • In the 13th year – Chapter 1
    • Later years of Josiah’s reign – Chapters 2-6 and probably a great deal of chapters 7-20
  • During the reign of Jehoiakim
    • Early in his reign – Chapter 26 and probably 7:1-8:3; 22:1-23
    • During the 4th year Chapters 25; 36; 45; 46:1-12
    • After the 4th year – Chapter 35
  • During the reign of Jehoiachin
    • Chapters 22:24-30 and probably ch. 14
  • During the reign of Zedekiah
    • At beginning – Chapters 24 and 49:34-39
    • In the fourth year – Chapters 27-28; 51:59-64
    • In other years – Chapters 21 and 29
    • In early seige, pause, and resumption of seige – Chapters 34, 37, 32; 33; 38; 39:15-18
  • In Judah after Jerusalem’s fall – Chapters 39:1-4; 40:1-43:7
  • In Egypt, after Jeremiah taken there – Chapters 43:8-44:30
/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Major Prophets (part 2) Book of Isaiah

In chapter 6, Isaiah recalls the time of his call to be a prophet. We know from verse one that this was about 740-739 B.C., as that was most likely the year that King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26) died. Isaiah lived long enough to write of the death of Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37-38), the Assyrian king who reigned until 681 B.C.

English: Isaiah; illustration from a Bible car...

English: Isaiah; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traditional secular Jewish and Christian writings state that Jeremiah and Isaiah were the two prophets referred to by the Hebrew writer as having been “sawn in two” (Hebrews 11:37). These writings refer to the persecution under Manasseh, the king of Judah from 687-642 B.C. Other writings in the Book of Isaiah can be dated as well. Chapter 7 was written about 735 B.C.  Chapters 36-38 can be dated about 701, which is the time of the Assyrian invasion.

The book opens with an indictment of the people of Israel, and the declaration that Israel has no excuse for its apostasy (Isaiah 1:1-10). It lists God’s requirements of the people of Israel in order to avert the coming judgment (Isaiah 1:16-20), It also contains the lament over Jerusalem and its coming fate (Isaiah 1:21-23), and a declaration of God’s coming judgment upon the people (Isaiah 1:24-31).

Isaiah is considered to be the most prophetic book of the Bible, and is quoted in the New Testament over 400 times.  The most well-known of his Messianic prophecies are in what is known as the “Suffering Servant” songs. The most beautiful and best understood prophecies that are a source of understanding of the Savior’s purpose as the Messiah are contained in Chapter 53.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Book of Lamentations (Major Prophets – Part 1)

In the Hebrew Bible, Lamentations is called Ekah (Hebrew for “how”), after the first word in the book, which has been referred to as either a groan or a cry of  grief – therefore, a lament. The word begins the first two sentences in chapter one. It also begins chapter 2, and is used twice in the first sentence of chapter 4. The statements that these sentences make accentuate the fallen state of Jerusalem and its people, as well as the anger the Lord has for them at the time (Lamentations 2:1). The book is sometimes also referred to by use of the Hebrew word “kinnoth,” which is “lamentations,” which ultimately comes from the verb “konen” for “lament.”

"Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Je...

“Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem” by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most scholars attribute the writing of the book to Jeremiah and (notwithstanding some pretty feeble arguments by a few) there really is no reason to dispute that. The book served to solidify for the prophet the title of “the weeping prophet.” There are some that suggest that the prophet was writing about events that had not yet occurred, but that really does not seem likely, as the descriptions of the dire circumstances, despair, and suffering of the people are very personal and passionate, and highly suggestive of an eyewitness account, especially in chapter 4.

The chapters of the book are usually referred to as 5 poems – an assessment that seems very accurate when one reads them. The Book of Lamentations is an expression of immense grief in a very poetic literary style. However, each lament moves rapidly from one tragic point to another, demonstrating the utter despair and turmoil in Jeremiah’s soul. The poems in Lamentations express profound loss, recalling bygone days of glory, while lamenting in the enumeration of what is now gone forever, trying to find some measure of consolation in his sorrows, as well as some hope for the future. At the center of it all, of course, is the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

The entire book (with the exception of the last chapter) has an acrostic pattern that is unique. Chapters 1, 2 and 4 each have 22 verses – one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. And each verse begins with a different letter. Chapter 3 has 66 verses, and each letter is represented by three verses in succession, repeating the alphabet three times. Each verse of chapters 1 and 2 consist of three dual clauses (except for 1:7 and 2:19, which have four). Each verse of chapter 4 consists of two dual clauses. But there are two aspects of the book’s composition that are even more puzzling. The first is that in chapters 2, 3, and 4 the 17th letter (“pey” or “phey”) occurs before the 16th (“ayin”). Secondly, although the 5th chapter is not an acrostic, it contains exactly 22 verses.

English: Woodcut for "Die Bibel in Bilder...

English: Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860. Lamentations of Jeremiah Deutsch: Holzschnitt aus “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860. Français : Gravure en bois pour «Die Bibel in Bildern», 1860. Русский: Гравюра из цикла «Библия в картинах», 1860 год. Плач Иеремии (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first chapter begins the observations of the prophet concerning the despair of hunger and the deaths from the “war,” as well as the desecration and plundering of the sanctuary.  It describes the fall of Judah from God’s favor because of its unfaithfulness, just as an adulteress. It concludes with the plea that God will punish Babylon in the end.

The second poem describes the suffering of the people with more vivid passion, but makes it clear throughout the chapter that it was God who brought this fate upon the people, and that the reason He did it was because of their sins. In the third poem, the prophet spells out the fact that what has happened is for the best, where the believers  – especially those yet to be born – are concerned, and that even this tragedy shows that God keeps His promises.  The hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm has its roots in Lamentations 3:19-24. It also expresses Jeremiah’s certain knowledge that God will redeem His people, and that His enemies will be punished.

Chapter 4 contains the graphic eyewitness account of the prophet concerning the desperate plight of the people. Young children were dying from lack of  food or water (Lamentations 4:4). The noblemen and even the wealthy were starving in the streets (Lamentations 4:7-8). The most disturbing account is that of mothers who boiled and ate their own children to keep from starving to death (Lamentations 4:10). Verse 9 makes a good summary statement: “Happier were the victims of the sword…”

The fifth and final poem continues this account with the description of the slavery that had become their lot, the rape of the women (Lamentations 5:11), and the public display of the executed nobles (Lamentations 5:13). But it also contains the prophet’s prayer that God will restore the people and take away their shame and disgrace. He also prays for their repentance, and for God to restore them. Verse 21 sums it up: “Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old…”

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.