After a few months ‘hiatus’ I’ve had a lot of thoughts about returning to a weekly Bible Study. Although I’m in no way a bible teacher, scholar or anything other than a follower, I think it’s been good to dig into the scriptures here on a weekly basis. So, our next series as you can tell by our post title today will be the Book of Daniel.
Daniel has always been a favorite Old Testament book of mine for a few reasons, mainly the prophetic parts, but also because it’s where we can find some of our favorite ‘stories’ and heroes~ Daniel in the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshech and Abednigo in the fiery furnace. Add onto that the historical parts and just over all an amazing life of courage, duty, faith and honor…. it’s something we can never learn about enough, and hopefully emulate.
Before we start in on this amazing book however, we need to do a little bit of back ground and setting up for folks who might not know, or have read it before, and it’s a good review for those of us who have read it often.
The Book of Daniel begins with the exile of Judah (remember the nation of Israel had split in two- Israel and Judah, yet they were all Jews), by the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.
Chapter one begins,
In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, 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.
We’ve got two main characters here, Nebuchadnezzar and Jehoiakim, King of Judah. Today we’ll focus on Jehoiakim, getting a little background info on him.
Jehoiakim’s real name was actually Eliakim, and he was one of the sons of King Josiah. Remember Josiah became king at 8 years old, and reigned as a good king, turning the people of Judah back to the Lord.
His father before him did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did many of the kings and culture of both Israel and Judah, for generations before him. “In the eighth year of his reign,” Scripture records that Josiah began to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:3), and he set about restoring the Temple of the Lord.
The workers found the lost and forgotten Torah. When it was brought to Josiah’s attention and the words read aloud, he wept, tore his clothes, and grieved over the fact that they had all turned away from God. He inquired of the Lord through Huldah the prophetess, and she encouraged him with the Lord’s words of blessing. After that Josiah led the people in a Passover celebration to rival all Passovers. And for the rest of Josiah’s days, the people of Judah sought the Lord (2 Chronicles 34-35).
So, upon Josiah’s death, his son Jehoahaz was chosen king by the people, and unfortunately he didn’t keep to the ways of his father, and did wickedly in the sight of the Lord. Jehoahaz only reigned three months before he was taken into captivity by the king of Egypt, who replaced Jehoahaz with his brother Eliakim (2 Kings 23:26; 2 Chronicles 36:5). The Egyptian king renamed the 25-year-old Eliakim “Jehoiakim.”
So, now we know who was King at the time of the Babylonian exile, but now we find out why Judah was taken.
Seems like no one really learns from past mistakes and misdeeds, as Jehoiakim also did evil in the Lord’s sight (2 Kings 23:37). And it was because of the ongoing, unrepentant sin of the nation of Judah, God sent invading armies to capture and enslave them.
Jehoiakim was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar, who put him in chains and took him to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1; 2 Chronicles 36:6;). It was at this time that Daniel and his three friends were also taken to Babylon (Daniel 1:1–2). Jehoiakim was later returned to Jerusalem, although he had to act as Nebuchadnezzar’s servant for three years and pay tribute to him.
It was also around this time (at Jehoiakim’s return to Judah) in which the prophet Jeremiah began preaching (and annoying Jehoiakim and officials).
He prophesied that the Babylonian invasion was God’s punishment for Judah’s sin and that the Jews needed to repent. Jehoiakim called for Jeremiah’s scroll to be read in his court, but being as unrepentant, stubborn and willful as always , as every three or four columns of the scroll were read, “the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes” (Jeremiah 36:23–24). Jehoiakim foolishly hardened his heart and tried to destroy God’s Word (see Jeremiah 25:1–4). Earlier, Jehoiakim had murdered the prophet Uriah (Jeremiah 26:20–23).
Jehoiakim reigned eleven years (2 Kings 23:36; 2 Chronicles 36:5). Jeremiah rewrote the scroll that Jehoiakim had burned, and God pronounced judgment on the king: “Therefore this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night” (Jeremiah 32:30). “He will be buried like a dead donkey—dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped outside the gates!” (Jeremiah 22:19, NLT).
Doesn’t sound like such a good ending, but it does show that its not a wise thing to mock the Living God.
This prophecy was fulfilled when he stopped paying tribute to Babylon when he was in the eleventh year of his reign. Nebuchadnezzar responded by besieging Jerusalem and according to the historian Josephus, Jehoiakim was killed during the siege, and his body was thrown over the city wall.
After Jehoiakim’s death, his son Jehoiachin succeeded him as the new king in Judah. Jehoiachin reigned only three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9) before he, too, was taken to Babylon while the foreign king appointed his successor (2 Chronicles 36:10).
Along with the worship of idols, immorality and other evils, the removal of God from Judah’s political process where God had long before chosen Israel’s Kings was another thing which showed how far the Jewish people had fallen away from God.
Whether disciplining the nation for the corporate sins, or individually as with Jehoiakim’s willful disobedience to God, we see that God does hold each individual responsible for his/her own actions. He is Just and Holy as well as loving and faithful.
So there we have the set up. Next week we’ll begin 🙂 I hope folks are looking forward to it as much as I am.
Have a blessed day all!