Because of the many sins of Judah, of not following in God’s ways, calamity had come upon Judah from God, by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Not all at once, but at three different intervals, over a period of nineteen years, God’s chosen were removed from Judah and Jerusalem, taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and exiled into Babylon, for seventy years. Jeremiah prophesied to them again and again that it was going to happen. They did not repent and change, so God sent sword, famine, and pestilence by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel was taken in the first deportation – in 605 B.C. A second group was exiled to Babylon in 597 B.C. A year and a half prior to the final deportation which occurred in 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar’s troops laid siege to Jerusalem, surrounding it, not allowing commerce to go in or out during that time, bringing the people to starvation. Finally, the army broke into the city and Nebuchadnezzar’s officials came in and sat down at the Middle Gate – expressing full military occupation of the city.
It was done. Nebuchadnezzar had overthrown Jerusalem.
When King Zedekiah, along with his sons and his army, saw these officials take their seats, they knew it was over for them and they made a break out of the city at night. Nebuchadnezzar’s army took up the chase. When Zedekiah, his sons, and his army got to the plains of Jericho, Nebuchadnezzar’s army overtook them. Zedekiah’s army scattered but Zedekiah and his sons were captured and brought before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, his command headquarters. Zedekiah’s sons were slaughtered as he watched and then Zedekiah’s eyes were put out. He spent the rest of his life in darkness, in exile, in a prison in Babylon. A sad end for this disobedient king of Judah, who didn't listen to the word of the Lord from Jeremiah.
The temple in Jerusalem was sacked and burned - Nebuchadnezzar brought the finest of the vessels from the temple to the house of his god. The house of Zedekiah was also burned, as well all the homes, including the houses of all the great who lived in Jerusalem. The walls of the city were wrecked. Some of the priests who served in the temple and some of Zedekiah’s advisors were also taken before Nebuchadnezzar at his command headquarters - they were killed also. A few poor were left to tend to the vineyards and plow the fields, under the governorship of a man named Gedaliah. Gedaliah was killed by some of the others that were left when his counsel was rejected that it would go well with them if they submitted to King Nebuchadnezzar. A remnant then fled to Egypt, for fear of the Babylonians, but when Babylon conquered Egypt, they also met their end at Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. The last and final group of people was marched to Babylon where they joined the others from the two previous deportations. (2 Kings 25:1-26; Jeremiah 25:1-11; 39:1-14; 52:1-28)
Fast forward some decades later…
Daniel was a student of the Word. Judah was now under the rule of the Medes (who God used to overtake and punish Babylon for their sins and ungodliness). Daniel was reading Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding the seventy years that Jerusalem would be laid to waste because of the sins of Judah.
It’s fun to wonder how Daniel ended up with a copy of God’s Word to Jeremiah…of course it was God’s provision, possibly brought by one of the other exiles, to this man who loved God and whom God esteemed highly.
Daniel understood that the end of those seventy years was approaching. Daniel was moved to pray – confessing the sins of his people (including himself) and glorifying the goodness and righteousness of God. He acknowledged that God was absolutely just regarding His actions towards Judah. Daniel asked God to mercifully forgive and to restore Jerusalem, without delay. Daniel’s prayer was consumed with the glory of God and not primarily with the benefit of Judah. His purpose was to see God’s work accomplished and His cause glorified. (Daniel 9:1-19)
Daniel understood that effective prayer comes out of knowing and praying both God’s Word and our present circumstances. Daniel prayed passionately that God would do what He promised to do. God’s promises invite our prayers and participation. Daniel’s study showed him a specific number, seventy years. His knowledge of the time led him to know God’s Word to Jeremiah applied to his time…
This is what Daniel read…Jeremiah 29:10, 11 – “For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Daniel’s prayer is interrupted by an angelic visitor whom he had seen in an earlier vision.
We’ll pick up the prophecy of the final seven years next time…