What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Isaiah 2 provides us with a detailed overview of the immorality that existed in Judah a few years before they fell to the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Isaiah reports what he witnessed the people being involved in, and he also foresaw the conclusion if no repentance occurred. It was a time not far different from what we observe in America today.
God is illustrating in His own picturesque way that pride (loftiness and haughtiness), emanating from within man and triggering his conduct, is heavily involved in human life—perhaps it is even the basis and foundation of all sin. He mentions the accumulation of wealth in the form of treasures, silver, gold, chariots, and horses. He speaks of manufacturing (the works of their own hands) and of religion (creating idols). He portrays things of sturdy power (oaks of Bashan) and things of grace and beauty (cedars of Lebanon). He mentions military power (high towers and fortified walls), large nations (high mountains) and small nations (hills that are lifted up), and commerce (beautiful sloops).
John W. Ritenbaugh
Living By Faith and Human Pride
God raised Cyrus up to do His bidding to prove to him and all the world who is the true God! God went before Cyrus (verse 2), paving the way for his victories and policies so that His will and His plan would move forward. We should be able to look back at history and see how God worked to bring all the necessary elements into place for His purpose to be fulfilled.
After God used Nebuchadnezzar to punish His people, He raised Cyrus to deliver them from their captivity in Babylon and return them to their land. For the real Christ to be born in Bethlehem as the prophecy states, Jews had to be living in Judea. He also inspired Cyrus to institute his conciliatory policy toward foreign religions so that a Temple could be built to which His Son could come. And among other points, Jerusalem had to be rebuilt so Jesus could die outside the city for our sins.
No other "god" can do these things! Only the Most High God, the Almighty Sovereign of the universe can work out events over such long periods of time. He can take sinful men who have never even desired a relationship with Him and cause them to do His will and bring about His purpose.
God is in control. Light, darkness, peace, or calamity—none of these things happen without His permission. "I, the LORD, do all these things," He says.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Cyrus: God's Anointed
God refers to both kingdoms here—the descendants of the northern kingdom of Israel as well as the southern kingdom of Judah. The return of Israel will be the larger migration because, aside from the 70-year captivity in Babylon, some of the descendants of Judah have always resided in the Promised Land. Today, the State of Israel is predominately made up of the descendants of Judah.
However, neither Israel nor Judah has truly possessed the land since the time of their respective captivities. Despite some of Judah having returned to the land, ever since the Babylonian captivity, she has only rarely and intermittently held sovereignty over it.
After Judah was taken into captivity, Babylon ruled the Promised Land under Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon later fell to the Medo-Persian Empire, which then became sovereign over Jerusalem and the Promised Land. Because of their vassal status, the Jewish captives that returned from Babylon had to ask permission from Cyrus and Darius, the Persian kings, to rebuild the wall and the Temple. The Jews enjoyed a measure of peace, but their freedom depended on the favor of the ruling Persian emperor.
After Alexander the Great conquered Medo-Persia, the Greeks became the new overseers of the Land of Promise. Jews under the Maccabees gained a measure of independence until Rome took control of the area. Thus, during the time of Christ, Jews lived in the land and even worshipped in the Second Temple, but they did not really possess the land because it was under Roman jurisdiction. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, notwithstanding some temporary Crusader holdings, the Promised Land has been under the sway of various Arab and Muslim nations—notably the Ottoman Empire—down to modern times.
Even now, the state of Israel does not control all of the land. Jerusalem is a divided city, and the Israelis have not dared claim all of the Temple Mount for themselves, because they know that it would result in an all-out war with the Muslims. Even though the Jews regained a considerable amount of land when it declared statehood in 1948, gaining even more during the Six Day War, the ownership is endlessly argued. Judah is not truly sovereign yet. It does not yet "possess" the land in the fullest sense of the word.
David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part One)
We see from the beginning of the chapter that God addresses this prophecy to "Mount Seir" (Ezekiel 35:1-2), which is an alternative name for Edom, descendants of Esau and cousins of the Israelites. About a thousand years before this prophecy, the family of Esau had migrated from Canaan southeastward into the rugged wilderness area beyond the Dead Sea (Genesis 32:3). Here, the people of Seir lived, and within a short time, the two families had merged into the nation of Edom. There is an indication that "Mount Seir" may specifically refer to Edom's central leadership (see verse 15).
From the beginning, the Edomites harbored a brooding hatred for their uncle Jacob's descendants, whom we know as the children of Israel. Clearly, the original bone of contention was Jacob's stealing of the patriarchal blessing from Esau (Genesis 27), as well as his procuring of the birthright for a song when Esau was desperate for food (Genesis 25:29-34). The two branches of the family have been in near-continual conflict ever since. The first people to harry the Israelites as they came out of Egypt were the Amalekites, one of the clans of Esau's line (Exodus 17:8-16), and at the end of that battle, Moses prophesies, "[T]he LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation" (Exodus 17:16).
As Israel approached the Promised Land nearly forty years later, Moses asked permission of the Edomites to pass through their land, but they refused (Numbers 20:14-21). As the generations passed, the two fought sporadically, and Edom invariably sided with Israel's enemies in other actions. The Edomites earned the reputation of taking advantage of Israel or Judah when they were down, raiding and plundering in the wake of military defeats. Through Amos, God castigates the Edomites, "I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother [Israel] with the sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever" (Amos 1:11).
This is the background of Ezekiel 35. When the Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar attacked and conquered Judah, destroying Jerusalem and the Temple and deporting thousands of Jews to Babylon, the Edomites allied themselves with the Chaldeans. God mentions this in verse 5: ". . . you . . . have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end. . . ." Their perfidious activity at this time is detailed in the book of Obadiah.
Thus, because the Edomites were so eager to shed blood—"since you have not hated blood," as God understates it—they would have to experience their blood being shed. God would set them up—"I will prepare you for blood"—to be conquered and laid waste in punishment for their atrocities against His people. He promises, "I will make you perpetually desolate, and your cities shall be uninhabited; then you shall know that I am the LORD" (verse 9). Soon thereafter, their "ally" Nebuchadnezzar took over their lands as he had done to Judah (see Jeremiah 27:3, 6), and it was not long before the Nabateans pushed them out of their ancestral homeland and into southern Judea, where they remained a subject people.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
When Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that he was the head of gold, it shows us a biblical principle that a king in prophecy represents the entire kingdom. In verses 39-40, "after you" indicates four successive world-ruling empires from the time of the Chaldean empire of Nebuchadnezzar until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. We see in overview an outline of world history from a Gentile perspective, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar and coming all the way down through the various kingdoms until the image is struck on the foot by the Stone, representing the Kingdom of God, or Christ.
This prophecy brings us right into our present time—the time of the end—the time when can expect that the Stone, sometime in the not-too-distant future, will strike this image on the feet. We can look for that last empire, represented by the feet and toes, to exist today, or either be coming together, or will shortly be coming together. History has shown that these four empires, beginning with the head of gold, to be the Chaldean (the head of gold), the Medo-Persian (the chest and arms of silver), the Greco-Macedonian (the belly and thighs of brass), and the Roman (the legs and feet of iron) empires. The Roman Empire existed from 31 BC to AD 476. Secular history shows that the Vandals defeated Rome, but Rome was revived and re-established as "the Holy Roman Empire" under Emperor Justinian in AD 554.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)
Using the Brown, Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, we can define some of the key terms:
» "promoted" (rebah)—to grow long, tall, or great; to increase; to make great.
» "ruler" (shelet)—to have power, to rule (over), to make ruler.
» "chief" (rab)—(adj.) great; (n.) a captain, a chief.
» "administrator" (cegan)—a prefect, a governor.
» "wise men" (chakkiym)—(adj.) wise; (n.) a wise man
The verse tells us the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar elevated God's servant Daniel to the ranks of the great in Babylon. He made Daniel a ruler, an official of great power over his kingdom. This promotion made Daniel the chief or lord over all the other wise men (magi) of Babylon.
This act of Nebuchadnezzar gave Daniel the power and the opportunity to make significant changes in the way the magi operated in Babylon. He may have held this post for the rest of his long life, and such a long tenure would ensure that many of his changes would endure. We could also speculate that, understanding the Seventy Weeks Prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27), he could have passed along to the magi the need to watch for strange tidings in Judea around this time.
We should also remember that a large number of Jews, Levites, and Benjamites still lived in Babylon and the surrounding areas, for only a small percentage of Judeans returned from exile to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:64-67). Some of them, following the example of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, may have been magi or governors. It is most probable, then, that the magi who visited the young Jesus would come under this second category of God-fearing, high-ranking rulers.
Who Were the Wise Men?
This is a further explanation of the world-ruling empires, showing national characteristics, but this time designed into animals of the same four kingdoms that appear in Daniel 2. Instead of being metals—gold, silver, brass, iron—now we have animals, indicating national characteristics of those four kingdoms, symbolized by the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the beast that was diverse from all the others.
The important thing to note here is that this illustration in Daniel 7 is a parallel of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. This illustration in Daniel 7 confirms that the legs of iron of the Daniel 2 image and the fourth beast of Daniel 7 both exist at Christ's return, fight against Him, and are defeated. So even as the feet and toes of the Daniel 2 image will be at the time of the end, so will this diverse beast. They are one and the same.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 1)
The Edomites' record of brutality and aggression against Israel is found throughout Scripture. Earlier, we saw Esau's personal hatred and murderous vow against Jacob (Genesis 27:41), the Amalekites' sneaky attack against the Israelite stragglers in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19), Amalek's alliances with other nations against Israel (Judges 3:12-14; 6:1-6), and even Haman's attempt to exterminate the Jews in Persia (Esther 3:1, 8-11, 13). Beyond these, the Bible provides more examples of Edom's almost incessant hostility against Israel and Judah and against God's will.
Psalm 137 is a lament describing the Jews' grief and longing for Jerusalem while they were held captive in Babylon. They were too forlorn even to sing "the LORD'S song in a foreign land" (verse 4). The later verses tell of the Edomites' role in the sack of Jerusalem, and the psalm ends with the Jews' hope that the Edomites will suffer as they had:
Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom, the day of Jerusalem, who said, "Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!" O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock! (Psalm 137:7-9)
Evidently, in 586 BC, the Edomites had joined with Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian forces against Judah and reveled in the Jews' defeat, committing atrocities against defenseless babies and youngsters.
Other Old Testament chroniclers add to the tally against Edom. God, through the prophet Ezekiel, relates the same account of fratricide, as well as what He has determined to be His just response to Edom's cruelty against His chosen people. These prophecies agree in full with Obadiah's:
»Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them, therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance," says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 25:12-14)
»"Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you. . . . Because you have said, 'These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,' although the LORD was there, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them. . . . The whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate. As you rejoiced because the inheritance of the house of Israel was desolate, so I will do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, as well as all of Edom—all of it! Then they shall know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 35:5-6, 10-11, 14-15)
»Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with whole-hearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country. (Ezekiel 36:5)
Jeremiah also refers to Edomite perfidy in the same destruction of Jerusalem:
Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you and you shall become drunk and make yourself naked [see Jeremiah 25:15-38]. . . . He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will uncover your sins! (Lamentations 4:21-22)
Among these, the prophecy in Joel 3:19 is most interesting, since the prophet Joel lived in the latter half of the ninth century BC, 250 years before Jerusalem fell to the Neo-Babylonians! He writes, "And Edom [shall be] a desolate wilderness, because of violence against the people of Judah, for they have shed innocent blood in their land." Amos, writing in the mid-eighth century BC, accuses Edom of similar crimes:
For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with a sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah. (Amos 1:11-12)
In the Bible, we have a comprehensive record of the violence that Edom has perpetrated against ancient Israel and Judah. The evidence from Obadiah reveals that the Edomites will continue their anti-Israel crime spree until God Himself intervenes in the last days. He takes great offense to these heinous acts, and thus He promises, they "shall be cut off forever" (Obadiah 1:10).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
All About Edom (Part Five): Obadiah and God's Judgment
Perhaps it was not just the approaching physical torture that Jesus dreaded as He made this plea to His Father. For every microsecond of eternity (with the possible two exceptions of His time in Mary's womb and His human babyhood), He had enjoyed a level of consciousness, involvement, control, and communication with God the Father that no other human could even begin to comprehend. It must have been almost intolerable for the Son of God, the great YHWH of the Old Testament, to contemplate being totally unconscious and "out of the picture," even for a mere 72 hours.
Jesus' agony no doubt included the foreknowledge of the spiritual torture of billions of sins committed throughout human history being laid on His innocent head. Jesus knew that His mind would soon become besmirched, infected, and injected with every filthy sin that man had ever committed in the past and would commit from that time on.
God tells us in I Corinthians 15:56, "The sting of death is sin." Most of us have been stung by a spider, bee, wasp, or hornet. The pain of an insect sting increases rapidly as its poison spreads through the blood vessels, deep into the body part that has been stung, and it can sometimes be almost unbearable. Nevertheless, it is impossible for us to imagine a fraction of the spiritual agony that those billions of "stings of death" caused our Savior as all the sins of the world were laid upon Him.
With all His might, He strove to dwell on better things (Philippians 4:8). He struggled to look beyond those hours of torture, despite His foreknowledge of their severity. Jesus knew what would happen after this day of agony and shame that was just beginning. More than any other human being who ever lived, He understood what lay beyond the split second of death and His short stay in the tomb. Just hours before this prayer in Gethsemane, He had spoken joyfully to His Father about their approaching reunion and regaining His former glory (John 17:5, 11, 13).
How did King Nebuchadnezzar feel when God gave him back his status as a real human being and a great king after living the existence of the lowest, slinking animal in the wild (Daniel 4:29-36)? How much more did Jesus look forward to waking after three days and three nights in the tomb as the Eternal God!
Did Jesus look forward to His death? No. He looked beyond His hours of suffering and beyond the instant of His death. He looked forward to life!
Death of a Lamb
Find more Bible verses about Nebuchadnezzar:
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