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What the Bible says about Captivity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Just before Israel and Judah fell to the Assyrians and Babylonians, God called several prophets to warn His people and urge them to repent. In recording the events of their times, these prophets paid particular attention to the prevailing attitudes within their societies, no doubt inspired by God for the benefit of His church. If we compare their societies and attitudes with our own, we can gain insight into the problems we face in the collapse of this nation.

What was the dominant attitude of the people in Israel and Judah just before their fall? In virtually every book by these prophets, warnings against attitudes of self-sufficiency, spiritual indifference, complacency, and self-satisfaction—Laodiceanism—are a major part of God's message!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism

Exodus 12:26-27

What is the Passover? Right from the start, God knew that young people would ask this very same question: "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?'" (Exodus 12:26). So He prepared an answer for them: "It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households" (verse 27).

Passover is a memorial day—a very important anniversary day. However, it commemorates three events, not just one. As God said, it commemorates the tenth and last plague upon ancient Egypt in which, after giving them ample warning, God passed over the nation of Egypt and killed all the firstborn in the land. Through this decimating plague, God freed the children of Israel from their captivity and servitude in Egypt.

Secondly, and most importantly, it commemorates the death of Jesus Christ, who was and is the firstborn Son of God the Father. Through Jesus' awful death—which, by God's design, took place on Passover day in AD 31—God freed us, regenerated Christians, from our captivity and slavery to the world, to Satan, and to sin.

Finally, it commemorates the baptism of each Christian, when we formally accepted the death of Jesus Christ, when we asked Him to apply His priceless sacrifice to our sins, when we asked that He would cover and blot out our sins with His blood (Psalm 41:1, 9; Acts 3:19; Romans 4:7).

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?

Judges 2:11-15

Forms of the situation described here appear frequently in the history of Israel's relationship with God. Several hundred years after this, God inspired Isaiah to write, "Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath I will give him charge, to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets" (Isaiah 10:5-6). This can only mean that God inspires and empowers the Assyrian nation to punish the nations of Israel for their flagrant disobediences.

Such punishment precipitated Israel being scattered, taken into captivity into foreign lands, and losing their homeland, to which they have never returned. God remarks in II Kings 17:18, after providing a long list of Israel's sins, "Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone."

However, the tribe of Judah was hardly better than Israel, as II Kings 17:19 states: "Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made." The result was similar to Israel's, for in II Kings 24:2-4 God carried out His threats of punishment against Judah too:

And the Lord sent against [Jehoiakim] raiding bands of Chaldeans, bands of Syrians, bands of Moabites, and bands of the people of Ammon; He sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken by His servants the prophets. Surely at the commandment of the Lord this came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.

Much negative, indeed inflammatory commentary, arose in America's newspapers and radio and television programs when some suggested that we are not as innocent as we like to think we are and that we must consider the attacks of September 11 to be a judgment from God and repent. The fact remains that, long before the attacks occurred, critics of American morality—Americans themselves—have been calling upon their fellow citizens to change their immoral ways. The attacks and a wave of sympathy for the grief of those directly impacted by them, as well as a sudden spurt of patriotism, changed the way people heard these messages. Before, they just tuned them out. After all, the messages were not for them but for others because they considered themselves to be okay. Afterward, however, the sense of being innocent victims of a sneaky and undeserved attack made the hearers feel that the messages were demeaning and insulting. But were they true?

In addition to the undisputed fact of God's sovereignty over Israel, ample additional evidence exists to show that He exercises equal dominion over the other nations of the world. He determines their rise and fall and the times of dominance of every nation. Clearly, God judges the inhabitants of His creation, and His judgments are not limited to Israel or to "biblical times." God lives and He always rules and judges—just as surely today as He did thousands of years ago. Since the One who judged during Old Testament times is the same One who judges today, we can be certain that He uses the same standards now that He did then. His laws, which define His standards of morality, have not changed one iota. Jesus emphatically asserts in the Sermon on the Mount that we should not think that He came to destroy the law or the prophets (Matthew 5:17). Indeed, Malachi 3:6 proclaims, "I am the Lord, I do not change," while Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus "is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Is God to blame because He exercises His authority, punishing to maintain order and to continue the advancement of His purpose in His creation? Who sins and brings upon themselves the necessity of punishment? God does not sin, men do. If God does not punish for sin, then righteousness loses all meaning. Life will soon become a violent free-for-all (Ecclesiastes 8:11). The Bible makes it clear that human nature is violently evil, and when left unchecked as it was before the Flood, it will reproduce similar conditions (Genesis 6:5). Indeed, God forecasts that exactly those conditions will face those living just before Christ's return (Matthew 24:37). Every indication is that we live during that time now.

The Bible prophesies scores of horrific punishments: epidemics of incurable diseases; wars; fires burning fields, forests, and homes; earthquakes; famines; floods from raging seas; violent weather patterns; and infestations of insects and wild animals. All of these occur as punishments for sin as God exacts His vengeance on "those who destroy the earth" (Revelation 11:18). "Earth" here represents all aspects of His creation—including man—which He created for man.

God is most certainly not to blame if He reacts in accordance with what He has told man He will do. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 establish that, if one does well, God will bless him. Conversely, God strongly warns that, if one does not do well, He will surely punish him. Though not to blame because His sins did not cause these tragedies, He is responsible for them because He at least allowed them to occur. He may even have inspired them to occur and oversaw events so that they would.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is God to Blame?

Ezekiel 2:3

The book of Ezekiel is addressed to the house of Israel, with Judah included within greater Israel. But the context of the book as a whole is primarily addressed to Israel, which was already in captivity when Ezekiel was written. Israel and Judah went into captivity at separate times; Judah went into captivity one hundred and twenty years after Israel did. However, the message in Ezekiel was written while the cause of their captivity was continuing in Judah. Ezekiel 20 exposes what caused them to go into captivity: idolatry and Sabbath breaking. What caused Israel and Judah to go into captivity at separate times was still going on!

Since Judah went into captivity a hundred and twenty years after Israel, and Ezekiel was a Jew in Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel's message never reached the house of Israel! The main body of Israelites had already begun their lengthy migration toward the northwest. Therefore, what we see in the book of Ezekiel is an account by God, through the prophet of 1) past history; 2) events occuring even as Ezekiel wrote; and 3) what is prophesied to happen, things being fulfilled today.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 2)

Ezekiel 20:3-8

Perhaps no other chapter in the Bible shows as clearly as Ezekiel 20 the critical importance for the people of God to keep the Sabbath. Ezekiel does not record the question or questions the elders asked of God, but we can ascertain them from God's reply. They seem to have been something like, "Why are we having all this trouble? Why are we in captivity? When can we expect to return to Jerusalem?" God specifically names part of the problem when He says that He commanded them to get rid of "the abominations which were before their eyes." These things, obviously abominations to God, were a delight to the Israelites because they did not cast them away.

God clearly shows that part of the answer is that they were committing idolatry. In Ezekiel 20:12-13, He involves the Sabbath in their problems. Six times in this one chapter, God links idolatry and breaking the Sabbath as causes of their captivity. It is accurate to understand Sabbath breaking as just another form of idolatry. God gave the Sabbath to Israel and to us that we might know the true God, be sanctified, fulfill our purpose in witnessing of Him before the world, and be changed and inherit His Kingdom. Israel failed utterly. God cut them off, and they went back into slavery and captivity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)

Ezekiel 20:3-4

These verses introduce a panoramic view of Israel's relationship with God from God's perspective. Ezekiel's charge from God is to judge (to pronounce judgments on Israel on God's behalf), to tell them plainly why they went into captivity.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)

Ezekiel 20:21

Ezekiel 20:21 appears in the midst of God's charge that He was sending Israel into captivity because of idolatry and Sabbath breaking. There are three possibilities regarding Israel's Sabbath breaking:

  1. They rejected God's Sabbath for another day entirely;
  2. They polluted what they did have of God's true Sabbath by careless, self-centered observance; or
  3. Most likely, it was a combination of both. Some completely rejected it, others treated it carelessly.

Whichever it was, it resulted in their captivity. Keeping the Sabbath day properly is a serious issue to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part Two): Christ's Attitude Toward the Sabbath

Daniel 9:24

This verse introduces the prophecy. Basically, Gabriel says that, within the seventy weeks, all of these things - the whole plan of God - will be fulfilled. "Weeks" is the Hebrew word shabua, meaning "sevens." In his prayer, Daniel mentions Jeremiah's prophecy of seventy years of captivity (verse 2), but Gabriel says it will not be just seventy years but seventy times seven years.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'

Hosea 4:1-3

History is repeating itself. Our nations rush pell-mell toward a worse captivity than those suffered by ancient Israel and Judah in Assyria and Babylon, and our foul language is partly to blame!

Staff
Swear Not at All!

Joel 3:1-2

Consider Moffatt's translation of verses 1-2: “For in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, then I will gather all nations and bring them down into the Judgment Valley. . . .”

The prophet Zechariah foretells of something similar: “For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem. . . . Half of the city shall go into captivity . . .” (Zechariah 14:2). It does not make sense that God would have allowed Jerusalem to be attacked and taken if the nation had repented and returned to worshipping Him.

So, the modern Jews who are delivered from famine and destruction from the mighty locust army, who have their fortunes restored by God's perhaps miraculous blessing, fail to turn back to God in any meaningful way. God, then, is forced to act in judgment again, this time, with even greater devastation and death.

This prophecy of Joel 3:2 and Zechariah 14:2—gathering the nations to war against Jerusalem—could not have taken place before the 1967 Six Day War, as it was not a “whole city” of which a half could be taken. A portion of Jerusalem had been captured 19 years earlier by Jordan, and no Jew was allowed in that part of the occupied city. There was no freedom of religion; only Islam was allowed. After 1967, it was reunited and administered wholly by the State of Israel. It is now an entire city of which half can be sent into captivity.

Jesus, in Matthew 24:15-16, 21, reveals what will spur the flight of God's people from Jerusalem:

“Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. . . . For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

This is when the church is taken from Jerusalem to a Place of Safety. There, it is promised, she will be protected and “nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14).

If we surmised time was short a few years ago, we must be on the very cusp of turbulent events soon to assail God's church and His saints. We must be diligent in stepping up our efforts at securing our salvation, at being counted worthy of divine help during these uncertain times of peril and upheaval to come. The words of Jesus in Luke 21:36 should remain constantly in mind:“From hour to hour keep awake, praying that you may succeed in escaping all these dangers to come and in standing before the Son of man” (Moffatt).

Mike Fuhrer
What Is Joel 2 Really About?

Amos 4:1-3

Amos' language is really vivid. He calls the women of Israel "cows." He seems to aim his derision at the affluent women who are perhaps using their affluence in a manner that God is highly displeased with. Spiritually, could he be talking about some of the various groups [a woman being a type of the church] that are present at this time?

"Go out at the breaches" - A breach is a split, a cleft, a break in a wall. Symbolically, a wall represents protection. Cities once had walls to protect them from enemies on the outside. If the wall is split, it allows room for the invaders to come in, so that the inhabitants are no longer secure. It also allows those who are inside an opportunity to go outside, into the world. God is telling the cows of Bashan that they will "go out" into the world—but as captives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part Three)

Amos 6:7

The first to go into captivity are the ones who live in excess, who seem unaware of the times. What happens to the Laodicean? He is thrown into the fire, a severe trial, which could very well be captivity (Revelation 3:18-19; 12:17).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism

Habakkuk 1:14-17

Verses 14-17 use an extended metaphor in which the Chaldeans are seen as fishermen and the peoples of Judah and the nations around them are the fish. Habakkuk visualizes the people, especially his own, as fish in a barrel! They cannot escape—easy pickings for the cruel Chaldeans. Whether by hook or by net, these evil Gentiles will have their way with the Judeans—because God is letting them!

This, of course, makes the Chaldeans pretty happy (verse 15). It is like shooting fish in a barrel! To the prophet, it makes no sense; it seems as if God is acting against His own people. The enemy is happy, wealthy, and powerful because God is not punishing their wickedness, and the Judeans are being killed, enslaved, robbed, and beaten to a pulp! In effect, Habakkuk is accusing God of letting them get away with murder!

In verse 16, Habakkuk speaks of the Chaldeans "sacrific[ing] to their net." Their net is a symbol of their weapons of warfare, their means of conquering the nations around them and gaining wealth. This is similar to Daniel 11:37-39, where Gabriel prophesies that the King of the North will honor "a god of fortresses."

Finally, the prophet asks, "Are You going to continue to allow them to get away with all this?" (verse 17). With this, his frustrations seem to abate, and he concludes in Habakkuk 2:1 with a remark that is very smart and wise.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk

Revelation 18:11-13

The merchants, who gained wealth and perverse pleasures from this world's system of religion and commerce, cry and lament because it satiated their greed for materialistic acquisition and their lust for self-pleasure. As the Babylonian system incorporates every expression of corrupt government, so its prostitution includes every corrupt economic system and idolatry. Even human beings are reduced to cargo, traded as slaves to drive the engines of production, prosperity, and sinful pleasures.

Sadly, the modern descendants of Israel have promoted and become part of this self-serving, perverse world system. Sin inevitably brings its own punishment, and there are always consequences to disobedience. Thus, when today's Israelites go into captivity in the last days, they will have no excuse for their sin and no freedom whatsoever.

Martin G. Collins
Slavery and Babylon


Find more Bible verses about Captivity:
Captivity {Nave's}
 




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