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    August 21, 1902

    “Causes of Israel’s Captivity” The Present Truth 18, 34, pp. 531, 532.


    THERE is hardly any portion of the Bible story that receives less attention than that relating in the period of the restoration of Israel to their own land, from the captivity in Babylon. And yet there is hardly any portion of the Bible story that is more full of the very life and movement of God in human affairs; hardly any portion more full of valuable lessons. Indeed, there is no portion of the Bible story so full as is this of striking illustrations of how easily, how promptly, and how triumphantly, God can interpose with kings and powers in behalf of His cause and His people in the earth.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.1

    The books of the Bible especially embraced in this Bible story are, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The period of the world covered in the narrative is about from B.C. 536 to the crucifixion.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.2

    God had brought Israel out of Egypt, and, having separated them from all the nations, had placed them in the land of Canaan, “the glory of all lands,” to be the light of the world. The chief reason why He placed them in the land of Canaan—Palestine—is that then, and for ages afterward, that little country was the pivot of the world. Between Egypt and the eastern and northern nations there was then, and for ages afterward, constant intercourse, practically all of which necessarily passed through Palestine. Yet later, when the weight of empire passed to the west, still Palestine was the centre around which swirled the world’s affairs.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.3

    At that centre of the world’s great currents God set His people to be His light to all the nations, whose people by thus constantly passing and repassing through that land, should behold that blessed people and glorious land, and be led to say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people” (Deuteronomy 4:6); and thus be led to inquire for the source of this wisdom and understanding, this prosperity and glory, and so find the true God, and turn from idolatry to the worship of Him. God intended that by His splendid presence abiding with them, His people should thus influence all the nations for good; and thus to carry on His fulfilment of His promise to Abraham, “In thee shall all nations be blessed.”PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.4

    Therefore, of Israel God had said, “Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.” Numbers 23:9. But the people would not have it so. They exclaimed and insisted, “Make us a king,” “that we may be like all the nations.” 1 Samuel 8:4-35. They had their way; they rejected God, and not only became “like all the nations,” but did “worse than the heathen” round them. And then, as with the nations that were in that land before them, the land could no longer endure them, and so much spew them out. They were carried captive to Babylon, and the land was left desolate that it might have rest from the sickening iniquities with which it had been afflicted.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.5

    The special sins that brought the captivity of Israel and the desolation of the land, were:—PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.6

    1. Oppression and injustice. “O house of David, thus saith the Lord; Execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” Jeremiah 21:12. “Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place,” “then will I cause you to dwell in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3; 7:5-8.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.7

    2. Oppressing and defrauding the labourer in his wages, while they in their wealth revelled in luxury. “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; that saith, I will build me a wide house and large chambers, and cutteth him out windows; and it is ceiled with cedar, and painted with vermilion.” Jeremiah 22:13, 14.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.8

    3. Neglect of the poor. “Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him? He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? saith the Lord. But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetousness.” Jeremiah 22:15-17.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.9

    4. Disregard of the Sabbath. Jeremiah 17:21-27.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.10

    5. The worship of the sun, with all the abominations that go with it. Ezekiel 8:3-18.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.11

    6. Rejection of the word and message of the Lord in reproof, counsel, and warning. Jeremiah 26:1-23; 6:22, 23; 37:1-21; 38:1-28.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 531.12

    But the very crowning abomination of all was,PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.1

    7. Their making the temple of God and the forms of worship of the Lord their confidence of salvation, while practising all these other iniquities and abominations; their holding God to a strict accountability for His promises, while they ran perfect riot against every precept upon which those promises could possibly rest, their making capital of God’s temple and ordinances and services designed to put away sin, as security in their complete abandon in the indulgence of sin: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.” [Luther’s translation: “Here is the Lord’s temple, Here is the Lord’s temple, Here is the Lord’s temple.”] Jeremiah 7:3, 4. “Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhour judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us.” Micah 3:9-12. “Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? [“There is no danger to us, though, or as long as, we do such abominations.”—Luther’s Translation.] Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 7:8-11.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.2

    “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.” Micah 3:12. “Go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by My name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me: for I will not hear thee.” Jeremiah 7:12-16.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.3

    Because of that deplorable, even desperate, condition of things in Jerusalem, the Lord of Jerusalem was compelled to liken her to Sodom, declaring that she and Sodom were sisters; and further: “As I live, saith the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Ezekiel 16:48-50. And consequently Ezekiel saw in a vision a man with a writer’s ink-horn by his side, passing throughout Jerusalem, setting a mark upon the foreheads of the men who were sighing and crying for all the abominations that were done therein. Following him were six other men, each with a slaughter-weapon in is hand, to “slay utterly” all to whom they should come, except that they were to “come not near any man upon whom is the mark.” Ezekiel 9:1-7.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.4

    Now this whole narrative has its parallel in the last days, even in our own time. General wickedness prevails (Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:13); oppression, injustice, defrauding the labourer in his wages to increase the overloaded coffers of the rich, who revel in luxury—all this is indulged (James 5:1-8); in the midst of this abundance to boundless millions there is such neglect of the poor that God is obliged to turn His attention especially to them (Luke 14:21-23); the Sabbath is disregarded (Isaiah 56:1, 2; 58:13, 14); the sun—in the Sunday—is honoured (Daniel 7:25; Revelation 14:9-12); the Word of God in counsel and warning, concerning all the evil and impending destruction, is rejected (2 Peter 3:3-7, 10-14; Matthew 24:37-39).PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.5

    And, also, there prevails the same chief abomination of all—the indulgence of a whole catalogue of iniquities under the form and profession of godliness (2 Timothy 3:1-5);—so that, looking again upon it all, God is compelled to liken it also to Sodom, because the last days of the world are as the last days of Sodom: “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot ... even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” “The same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Luke 17:28, 29, 30.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.6

    And while this destruction and desolation is impending, the heavenly messenger (Revelation 7:2, 3) passes through the world, setting the royal seal—the heavenly mark—upon the servants of God, who are sighing and crying for all the abominations that are done in the land; and after him pass the messengers of judgment, slaying utterly all upon whom is not found the mark. Revelation 14:9, 10; 16:1-21.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.7

    Thus certainly and thus fully does the period which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of that land, contain lessons of deep meaning to the people who live in the last days—even now—when all the cities of the nations and of the world are to be broken down, and the earth made desolate, “at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger.” Jeremiah 4:26; Revelation 16:19; Zephaniah 1:14-18.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.8

    So, also, does the period of the restoration from that ancient destruction and desolation contain lessons of deep meaning to the people of God of all times, and especially of the last days.PTUK August 21, 1902, page 532.9

    A. T. JONES.

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