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    August 28, 1902

    “Restoration from Babylon. The Release from Captivity” The Present Truth 18, 35, pp. 547, 548.

    ATJ

    ISRAEL had frustrated God’s purpose to enlighten all the nations by them in the land where He had planted them; yet He would fulfil His purpose and His promise to Abraham, and enlighten all the nations through them in the lands where He had scattered them.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.1

    By unbelief and iniquity Israel, when planted in their own land, had lost the power to arrest and command the attention of all the nations, that the nations might consider God and His wonderful works and ways with the children of men; but as they were scattered among the nations, God would use them to enlighten those who had acquired the power to arrest and command the attention of all the nations, and thus through them would still cause all nations to consider the wonderful works and ways of God with the children of men.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.2

    Through Daniel and his three brethren in captivity, God enlightened King Nebuchadnezzar who was ruler over all the nations; and by King Nebuchadnezzar twice distinctly proclaimed to all people, nations, and languages His wisdom, His justice, His power, His glory, and His kingdom and dominion. Daniel 3:29; 4:1-3, 34-37.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.3

    Nebuchadnezzar and his empire, and even the last vestige of his kingdom, passed away. Another kingdom and empire took the dominion of the world. “Darius the Median took the kingdom.” Daniel 5:31. As the result of a conspiracy, Daniel was cast to the hungry lions in their den. But God shut the lions’ mouths that they did him no hurt; because innocency was found in him, and because he believed in his God. This so fixed upon God as the only true and living God, the heart of king Darius the Mede, who was now king of all the nations, that he also “wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth,” proclaiming that “the God of Daniel” “is the living God, and steadfast for ever, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and He worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth.” Daniel 6:25-27.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.4

    In the very first year of Darius the Mede, B.C. 538, Daniel turned his attention especially to the Scriptures relating to the subject of the return from their captivity; and found and “understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” Daniel 9:1, 2. One thing that had caused Daniel to be most deeply interested in this subject was the word of Palmoni, the wonderful numberer in the vision of Daniel 8, given to him in the third year of Belshazzar, saying, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 7:14.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.5

    This two thousand and three hundred days to the cleansing of the sanctuary caused Daniel great anxiety. He could not understand it. The temple at Jerusalem was a ruin, and had so lain for more than fifty years. Was it possible that it should so lie for yet two thousand and three hundred years, before the ruins should be cleared away and the temple restored? To this the book of Jeremiah answered, No: “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.” Jeremiah 29:10. Could it be possible, then, that they should return, and yet the temple be not restored for so long? To this the book of Isaiah answered, No; for therein God had declared to Jerusalem, “Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid;” and that this should be in the time of Cyrus, and Cyrus was no living and sixty years old.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.6

    What, then, could mean that word, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”? Was there any connection between that and the return from captivity and the rebuilding of the city and temple? This problem was beyond solution by human thought. Therefore—PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.7

    “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes; ... [and] whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning [Daniel 8:16], being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” Daniel 9:3, 21.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 547.8

    “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.1

    “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:22-27.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.2

    Within two years, in 536, Darius the Mede died, and was immediately succeeded by Cyrus the Persian, of the same united and universal kingdom of the Medes and Persians. Cyrus had been the commander of the Medo-Persian armies in the destruction of the empire and kingdom of Babylon. At that time he was an idolater. Yet long before that, even one hundred and fourteen years before he was born, the God of Israel had called him by name; and had recorded a message addressed to him personally. And this is the message: “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me.” Isaiah 45:1-4.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.3

    Thus the Lord revealed Himself to Cyrus as the God of Israel. But since Cyrus was an idolater, God must further reveal Himself to him as the only true and living God. This He did in the further word: “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.” Verses 5, 6.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.4

    God thus revealed Himself to Cyrus as the God of Israel, and as the only true God: it remained to reveal to Cyrus that He, the God of Israel, and the only true God, was distinct from and above the gods that Cyrus had worshipped. Therefore the Lord revealed Himself yet further, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil.” Verse 7. The point in this is—PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.5

    1. The Persians, in their religious system, recognised two original principles—good and evil. Their conception of good and evil, however, did not rise to the height of moral and spiritual good and evil, or righteousness and sin, as is revealed by the Lord; rather as men naturally conceive of good and evil as manifested in prosperity and adversity, tranquillity and disturbance. Therefore when the Lord would show to Cyrus that He is over all, He said, “I make peace, and create evil.” That is, I make tranquillity and create disturbance; I give prosperity and send adversity.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.6

    2. The Persians held that their principle of good was represented in light; and the principle of evil in darkness. Therefore when the Lord would reveal to Cyrus the Persian that He is above all, He said, “I form the light, and create darkness.”PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.7

    The night that the city of Babylon was captured and Belshazzar slain, before the capture king Belshazzar had made Daniel the first man of the empire after the two kings, Belshazzar and his father. Then when the city was taken, Balshazzar slain, and his father a captive, this left Daniel the first man of the kingdom. Darius and Cyrus, the new rulers, found Daniel in his royal robe of scarlet with his insignia of office, the “chain of gold about his neck,” They found him so intelligent in all the affairs of the vanquished kingdom that they immediately took him into their council, and gave to him the chief place in the re-organisation of the kingdom.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.8

    And when Cyrus thus met Daniel, Daniel showed to him the word of the Lord, written to him by Isaiah on hundred and seventy-four years before. The message was so direct and so personal, and the revelation so plain and indisputable, that Cyrus accepted and acknowledged God as “the Lord God of heaven,” and declared, “He is the God.”PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.9

    There was also read t Cyrus the further word of the Lord by Isaiah to him, “That saith of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure.... I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 44:28; 45:13. This message, too, Cyrus accepted from the Lord; and in 536, when Cyrus came to the throne of the empire, that very year the seventy years’ captivity expired, and in that very year Cyrus issued the decree and proclamation throughout the whole empire, releasing from captivity all the people of Israel, and calling them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city, and especially the house of the Lord.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.10

    And here is a copy of that decree:—PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.11

    “Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.12

    “Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: and also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.” Ezra 1:1-4, 6:3-5.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.13

    That decree was published by “proclamation throughout all his kingdom,” and was put “also in writing;” and was deposited among the archives of the kingdom in the palace at Ecbatana, the Median capital of the empire. “Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all [that] was willingly offered.”PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.14

    “Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.... All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:5-11.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.15

    And of the people who returned to Jerusalem,—PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.16

    “The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore, beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.... And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the Lord which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: they gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments. So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.” Ezra 2:64-70.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.17

    The restoration of Israel had begun.PTUK August 28, 1902, page 548.18

    A. T. JONES.

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