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Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 34: Babylonian Captivity

This entry is part 34 of 46 in the series

"Bible Narratives Devotional"

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Week 34: Babylonian Captivity

Weekly memory verse:

Ezekiel 37:27–28 – “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

Weekly hymn:

“Jerusalem, My Happy Home” (free download)

Weekly catechism:

What do you believe about the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is true and eternal God together with the Father and the Son.

Day 166: Jeremiah Taken to Egypt

Reading: Jeremiah 43; Psalm 88

Notes

Jeremiah 43, Verse 1. Finished speaking. Jeremiah had warned the people in chapter 42 not to go to Egypt. Despite the fact that everything Jeremiah had prophesied to this point had come to pass, the people did not listen to him.

Verse 7. Tahpanhes. This is in the eastern delta region of Egypt.

Verse 11. Strike the land. This prophesies Babylon’s invasion of Egypt in 568/67 bc.

Summary

God did not want his people to trust in their own strategies for safety or in the protection of other nations. Yet despite Jeremiah’s warnings that the people not escape to Egypt for protection, they went anyway. God responded by using Jeremiah to prophesy that one day Babylon would destroy even Egypt. God’s people could not escape the judgment due them.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did the people want to go to Egypt?
  2. Why didn’t God want them to go to Egypt?
  3. What was the result of the people’s escape to Egypt?

Day 167: Jerusalem Captured and Burned

Reading: Jeremiah 52

Notes

Verse 1. Jeremiah. This is not the same man as the author of the book.

Verse 4. Ninth year. This chapter is another recounting of the fall of Jerusalem. So important is this event that it is recorded four times in the Old Testament (2 Kgs 25, 2 Chr 36:11–21, Jer 39:1–14, Jer 52).

READ
Looking through Psalm 137, Stanza 1: Worship in a Pagan Culture

Verse 28. Carried away. This is the third of four deportations to Babylon: 1) the first deportation in 605 bc marking the beginning of 70 years in exile, 2) the second in 597, 3) the third in 586, and 4) a final deportation in 582–61.

Verse 31. Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin had been taken to Babylon in 597. Here he is released from prison after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, revealing God’s faithfulness to the Davidic line.

Summary

Just judgment against Judah is recounted here. The city is destroyed, the Temple is burned to the ground, and all of the sacred implements are taken away. Nebuchadnezzar kills many of the leaders of Judah and takes others back to Babylon. God had remained faithful to his promise that if the people continue to rebel against him, he would send them into captivity. Yet God also remained faithful to the promise he had made to David by protecting the Davidic line in Jehoiachin.

Discussion Questions

  1. Was God just in judging Israel and Judah?
  2. How was God able to both fulfill his promise of judgment upon Israel’s rebellion while at the same time fulfill his promises to David?
  3. How do we know God would continue to keep all of his promises?

Day 168: Israel in Exile

Reading: Ezekiel 37; Psalm 137

Notes

Ezekiel 37, Verse 1. Me. Ezekiel was a prophet to Israel during their captivity. He was taken captive at the age of 25 and called into ministry in 593 bc at the age of 30. This is one of Ezekiel’s most well-known visions concerning Israel’s future. It occurred the night before a messenger came with news that Jerusalem had been destroyed.

Verse 1. Bones. The dry bones in the vision picture the apparently dead Israel.

Verse 14. Spirit. God promised to one day revive dead Israel by putting his Spirit in them as a nation.

Verse 22. One king. The Messiah King will one day rule over a newly united nation of Israel in its land.

READ
Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 8: God Saves His People

Verse 26. Covenant of peace. This is the New Covenant.

Summary

As a message of hope for Hebrew exiles, God gives Ezekiel a vision promising the full restoration of Israel in her land, newly united and cleansed from sin, and under the rule of the Davidic Messiah. Although Israel soon returns to its land, this prophecy will not be completely fulfilled until Jesus Christ comes again and rules over Israel  for 1,000 years in the promised land.

Discussion Questions

  1. How would this vision give hope to Israel in Exile?
  2. How does Jesus Christ begin to fulfill these promises in his first coming?
  3. Which of these promises have yet to be fulfilled? When will they come to pass?

Day 169: Nebuchadnezzar’s Conversion

Reading: Daniel 4; Psalm 91

Notes

Daniel 4, Verse 2. Most High God. This chapter begins and ends with Nebuchadnezzar’s praise of God, and the middle gives the explanation for what led him to praise God.

Verse 9. Spirit. This should likely be translated “Spirit of the Holy God” in reference to the true God since no pagan worshipers believed their gods to be holy.

Verse 16. Beast. A disease later called lycanthropy causes a person to think he is an animal.

Summary

God demonstrates his ultimate power over all nations in converting the very man who defeated his people. After Daniel interprets the dream that prophesies what will happen, God smites Nebuchadnezzar with a maddening disease for seven years in response to his pride. By the grace and mercy of God, Nebuchadnezzar confesses his sin to God and converts to the worship of Yahweh before his death.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why did God show mercy even to Nebuchadnezzar?
  2. What are indications in Nebuchadnezzar’s account of what happen that reveal he was likely truly converted?
  3. What would this account have revealed to captive Israelites?

Day 170: The Handwriting on the Wall

Reading: Daniel 5; 9

Notes

Daniel 5, Verse 1. Belshazzar. This occurs in 539 bc, over two decades after his father, Nebuchadnezzar’s death.

READ
Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 13: Judges

Verse 25. Writing. “Mene” means “appointed.” “Tekel” means “weighed.” “Peres” means “divided.”

Verse 30. Darius. Possibly a title for Persian king Cyrus. Legend says that Persian troops dug trenches beneath the walls that diverted the river flowing into the city, thus gaining them quick passage into the palace.

Chapter 9, Verse 24. Seventy weeks. These are seventy weeks of years spanning the perios from Persian king Artazerzes’ decree to rebuilt Jerusalem in 445 bc (Neh 2:1–8) to the Messiah’s future kingdom. It prophesies 69 weeks (or 483 years) until Messiah would come, which was fulfilled at Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem in 30 ad, and a final 70th week, which some see as being fulfilled in a future seven year Great Tribulation period.

Summary

God uses Persia to defeat Babylon as judgment for what they did to Israel. Yet God continued to protect Daniel, and used him in Persia as well. Daniel prays for the peace and security of Israel, and God responds by giving Daniel a vision that promises a coming Messiah who would one day restore Israel’s kingdom.

Discussion Questions

  1. How did Belshazzar demonstrate that he did not, like his father, convert to the worship of Yahweh?
  2. Why did God allow Persia to defeat Babylon?
  3. How does Daniel’s vision give Israel hope?
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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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