THE BABYLONIAN, PERSIAN, GRECIAN AND ROMAN EMPIRES
586 B.C. The Babylonians conquered the Assyrian Empire and then laid siege to Judah, the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Jerusalem, the city and The Temple were burned and completely destroyed. This was allowed by God because of rebellion of the people, who chose to worship idols and live in immorality. God's prophets tried to warn the people to follow His ways but too many would not listen. The people were led away and taken captive to Babylon. Jeremiah prophesied that this exile lasted for seventy years. JEREMIAH 39.
JEWS IN EXILE IN BABYLON
560 B.C. As a priest-prophet, Ezekiel was called by God to minister to the exiles in Babylon. Ezekiel's first commission was a call to warn of the impending judgement that was announced before the fall of Jerusalem. He was gifted with intellect and was capable of understanding large issues. He acted out personally, The Divine Word by prophetic symbolism. After Jerusalem had fallen, God's message through Ezekiel then turned to hope, to experience revival, renewal and restoration. Israel's human monarchy was now finished. Prophecies of Christ through Ezekiel were centred on the fact that Christ was to be their only King and Shepherd. EZEKIEL 34:11-31- 37:24(a).
545 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar had an image built ninety feet high and nine feet wide and ordered all to worship it. Three Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (COLOUR IN CAMEO) named with foreign names by their captors because of their new national home in exile, refused to do this because God's laws warn not to bow in worship to anything or anyone except God who created all things. The three young men were thrown into the burning furnace for not obeying the king. As the King was watching the furnace, he saw four people walking around in the fire, because The Angel of the Lord was protecting them. The King ordered them to come out. The three men had not been touched by the heat, nor smelt of fire. Because God had looked after the faithful Jews and personally did a mighty miracle in King Nebuchadnezzar's life, he issued a degree that no one was to speak against the God Most High and sent a notice to all nations about The Living God. DANIEL 2-4.
The Royal Decree was sent throughout the provinces of Babylon-To every nation in the world, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honour The Most High God The King of heaven The Judge of all whose every act is right and good; and I know for sure that his kingdom is everlasting; He reigns forever and ever. DANIEL 4:2,37
539 B.C. During the time of Judah's banishment in Babylon, Daniel was a prophet of God, to whom God revealed His Plans for the future, before and after Christ. God allowed Daniel to know the four Great Kingdom that would next rule over His chosen people before The Everlasting Kingdom of God arrived. He was shown how many years would pass before Christ, The Anointed Servant of God, for whom they had all been waiting would come. Daniel was faithful to God and gained the trust of King Nebuchadnezzar as well as King Darius of Persia, who took Babylon captive and enslaved, on behalf of King Cyrus and divided it to provinces with rulers.
Daniel was one of these that was place in authority of a ruler and the other leaders were jealous of him, so they encouraged the king to sign a decree, "to only ask favours from the king". The penalty for disobedience to the King of Persia was to be thrown into the lion's den. Daniel disobeyed this law because he prayed to God and also asked petitions of Him, so Daniel's enemies reported Him. All night God kept the lions from attacking Daniel because he trusted God. In the morning the King was pleased to release Daniel unharmed and let every one know that The Living God to whom Daniel prayed was truly GOD OF ALL THINGS. DANIEL 6.
The King of Persia also sent a Royal proclamation throughout his kingdom. Greetings, I, King Darius, decree that everyone shall tremble and fear before God. For God is the Living, unchanging God whose kingdom shall never be destroyed and whose power shall never end. He delivers His people, preserving them from harm. He does great miracles in heaven and earth.
538 B.C. King Cyrus of Persia was God's instrument to deliver the Jews from exile in Babylon. This was accomplished by three separate trips. The first group under Prince Zerubbabel (Royal lineage of Christ) and the Prophets, Haggai and Zachariah repaired the altar of The Temple and The Temple was rebuilt. In 458 B.C. the second group was led by Ezra, the Scribe (COLOUR IN CAMEO) who re-established the Law given to Moses. EZRA 10.
There are continuous exploits done for God, with His help, by His people. In many different ways, God enables His people to overcome situations that otherwise seem impossible circumstances. The Bible teaches all believers to stand fast for God's standards and for His righteousness.
Although God disciplined His people by allowing their captivity, He never abandoned them, He is Sovereign and in control of History. Between the first trip back to Judah with Prince Zerubbabel and the second trip with Ezra, God raised up a Jewish girl, Esther an orphan who became Queen of the most powerful Empire in the world at that time, Persia. She alone was Queen, (COLOUR IN CAMEO) even though the King had many wives in his harem.
An evil plan was put into motion that all the Jewish race had to be killed, including the first group of Jewish exiles that had returned to rebuild The Temple in Jerusalem. This decree had been executed by order of the King through his Prime Minister, who had an obsessive hate for God's people, for they did not bow or pay great homage to him. This decree could not be reversed under Persian Law.
Queen Esther asked that the Jewish people pray and fast. She used her God-given opportunity to act. She risked her life twice for her own race of people. (A person could not approach the King; it was the death penalty to do so, each one had to be individually called for by the King.) Twice Esther approached the King without being called for an audience. The Jewish race was saved because of Esther's courage by her request of another decree sent to all the Jewish exiles allowing them to defend themselves throughout the Persian Empire. This they did and many foreigners came to learn of The One True Living God because of this decree. Her Uncle became the new Prime Minister and the many rulers of the provinces were now under the authority of a Jewish Prime Minister. ESTHER 1-10.
In 445 B.C. the third group returned with Nehemiah (COLOUR IN CAMEO) who helped rebuild the city of Jerusalem, the city walls and revived worship unto God. 430 B.C. Nehemiah, returned once more to Jerusalem, in Judah, and was appointed Governor by the Persian King. With The Temple and the walls of Jerusalem completed, the people of the restored community began to lose hope because of the harassment of neighbouring countries, many gave up believing in God and His Promises. The glorious future that had been announced through previous prophets had not yet been realised.
God sent His Word through the prophet Malachi, rebuking them because of their doubt of His Love. Only through repentance and reformation would they experience God's blessings and awareness. God announced He would send a messenger, who was John, the Baptist, to prepare the way of the coming Messiah (Jesus). The dawn of the day was about to break with Light. God remained faithful to His Word. "The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves set out to pasture". MALACHI 4:2.
Alexander the Great, of Greece, overthrew the Persian Kingdom, he also had a hope for all the world to speak his language and follow the Grecian culture. This led to the Hebrew text being translated into Latin. The five books of Moses were translated in 250 B.C. and was available and used by all Greek speaking people, especially Jewish patriots living outside of their homeland. All Jews no longer spoke in Hebrew. This translation became The Bible of the early Church. (The Apocrypha is a collection of a variety of history books which was not used by the early Christians nor accepted by Jewish Scholars because of errors. Only Rome, since the 16th century has used these additional books.)
Alexander's General's controlled all the area for over a century, after which a Jewish revolt in Judah resulted in independence for the Jewish community until the Roman Empire took control of the area around Jerusalem in the south along the prominent gateway to the north and to the south of the trading world, and called it Judea, in 63 B.C.
THE ROMANS PUT GREAT MATERIAL AND PHYSICAL BURDENS UPON THE PEOPLE.
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