The Holy Scriptures

Jeremiah 1‑52; Lamentations 1‑5; Ezekiel 1‑48; Daniel 1‑12  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 11
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Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
The entire period from Josiah to the destruction of Jerusalem is a little over fifty years. There were five kings who reigned during this time. The first was Josiah—slain by Pharaoh-nechoh (2 Kings 23:2929In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him. (2 Kings 23:29)).
The fifth king was Zedekiah (Mattaniah), a third son of Josiah and the last king of Judah—made king by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive by him (2 Kings 24:17; 25:717And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah his father's brother king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah. (2 Kings 24:17)
7And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon. (2 Kings 25:7)
). It was a time of profound change during which God was setting aside Israel and placing His government in the hands of a Gentile nation. Understanding this is key to understanding these books.
Outward Appearances
Jeremiah had the task of prophesying to a nation that refused to hear—to a people that would soon be subdued by a foreign power as ordered by the government of God. False prophets, whose words pleased the people, constantly opposed him.
Jeremiah enters into all this personally. His love for the people and his jealousy for a holy God produced a tremendous conflict in his soul and resulted in physical suffering. He is known as the weeping prophet (Jer. 9:11Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! (Jeremiah 9:1)), standing in the breach, pleading for the people. Jeremiah’s life is woven into the fabric of his prophecies.
The book consists of a number of distinct prophecies. Since they are not ordered chronologically, a moral order must be understood.
In the first twenty-four chapters Jeremiah pleads with the people, appealing to their heart and conscience, taking us to the siege of Nebuchadrezzar (Jer. 21-24).
In chapter 25 we have a general summary of God’s judgments by the hand Nebuchadrezzar (ch. 25:8-11), the punishment of the king of Babylon after seventy years (ch. 25:12), and the judgment of the nations (ch. 25:31).
The remaining prophecies have much more to do with historic events. In chapters 30-33 we are taken prophetically to the future time of Jacob’s trouble. It looks forward to a coming day when God will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah (ch. 31:31), restore the land to them again, and “cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (ch. 33:15).
In chapters 40-44 we have the final history of the remnant in the land and their escape into Egypt contrary to the word of the Lord by Jeremiah (ch. 42:7-22). Chapters 46-51 give the judgment of the nations, beginning with Egypt and ending with Babylon.
The book of Lamentations contains the lament of Jeremiah over Jerusalem—once great among the nations—now solitary and desolate (Lam. 1:11How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! (Lamentations 1:1)). The Lord had done righteously, but understanding God’s government against that city only deepened Jeremiah’s sorrow (vs. 18).
Jeremiah confessed the sin of the city as his own, and he felt what it was to be rejected by the very ones for whom he wept. In his sorrow we see expressed something of the sorrow so fully felt by the rejected Christ (vs. 12).
Chapters one, two and four each have twenty-two verses commencing with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Similarly, chapter 3 has twenty-two stanzas of three verses each. The fifth chapter, while having twenty-two verses, is not constrained by this arrangement, for it is a prayer. With confession made, Jeremiah can bring that which has afflicted the people before a compassionate (ch. 3:22-36) and unchanging God (ch. 5:19).
Ezekiel’s prophecy takes in all Israel (Ezek. 2:33And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. (Ezekiel 2:3)). The book does not concern itself with the times of the Gentiles. This period is to be found fully detailed in the book of Daniel. Rather, this interval is skipped over and Ezekiel’s prophecy resumes with the millennium, when Jerusalem will again be the center of God’s government. Ezekiel’s prophecies are full of symbols and imagery.
The book may be divided into four parts. Chapters 1-24—the rebellious house of Israel (ch. 3:9). These are arranged chronologically and tell of the impending Chaldean invasion and the destruction of Jerusalem (ch. 24).
Chapters 25-32—the judgment of the seven Gentile nations—Ammon (ch. 25:1), Moab (ch. 25:8), Edom (ch. 25:12), Philistia (ch. 25:15), Tyre (ch. 26-28:19), Zidon (ch. 28:20), and Egypt (ch. 29-32).
Chapters 33-39—the return of the remnant, which of necessity includes judgment on Israel and those that oppose that restoration.
Chapters 40-48—the future millennial temple.
Of all the Old Testament prophets, Daniel is the one with whom we are most familiar. There are numerous practical lessons to be learned from his life. His faithfulness is recorded by Ezekiel (Ezek. 14:1414Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God. (Ezekiel 14:14)), and as a faithful one amidst a Gentile nation, he is a picture to us of the Jewish remnant of the later day.
As a prophet in the court of Gentile kings, he is occupied with the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:2424And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)). The book may be divided into two. The first six chapters give us the history of the monarchs from Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Cyrus the Persian (Dan. 6:2828So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian. (Daniel 6:28)) and Daniel’s interaction with them. Here are to be found general principles concerning the times of the Gentiles. The details of this period are covered in the remaining six chapters in Daniel’s visions.
There are four Gentile nations beginning with the Babylonian empire (Nebuchadnezzar). That kingdom would be succeeded by the Persian (under Cyrus), which in turn would be overtaken by the Grecian (Alexander the Great). A final empire, the Roman, would conquer the Greeks.
Though the Roman Empire declined and collapsed, no superseding kingdom rose in its place. In a coming day the Roman Empire will reappear in its final form as a ten-nation confederacy—a beast—dreadful and terrible (Dan. 7:77After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:7)).
In this book we also find that seventy weeks (or periods of seven) are determined upon Daniel’s people (the Jews) and upon the holy city (Jerusalem; ch. 9:24). From the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (Neh. 2) until Messiah the Prince would be sixty-nine weeks (seven plus sixty-two; Dan. 9:25-2625Know 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. 26And 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. (Daniel 9:25‑26)). When each week is taken as seven years, we find that the 69 weeks, or 483 years, has been fulfilled precisely.
The seventy weeks close with the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:2424Seventy 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. (Daniel 9:24))—still future. The final terrifying week, a seven-year period, is also future (Dan. 9:27; 7:2527And 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 9:27)
25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:25)
). This present day of grace in which we live, from Christ to the Rapture, is omitted in this timeline, for the “seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city (Dan. 9:2424Seventy 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. (Daniel 9:24)).
N. Simon