God patiently, with long suffering, called on the Israelite
people through many of His prophets, to turn from evil and come to believe in
Him. But neither the kings nor the people listened to them.
Finally, when the people’s evil deeds had reached
the ultimate limits, the Lord withdrew from the Israelite kingdom and it
perished. The Assyrian King Shalmaneser conquered and destroyed the Israelite
kingdom. He sent a large part of the Israelite people to his own country. In
their place he settled pagans from his own kingdom. These pagans assimilated
with the Israelites who remained and formed a people who came to be called
Samaritans, from the name Samaria, which was the main city of the destroyed Israelite
The Samaritans spoke an impure Hebrew language.
They accepted faith in the true God, but not completely, because they did not
abandon their former pagan customs and they honored only one of the prophets,
Moses. The Jews despised the Samaritans and would not sit with them at the
table and even tried not to speak to them. The Israelite kingdom existed for
II Kings, chap. 17.
The Judean Kingdom.
After the collapse of the Israelite kingdom, the
Judean kingdom existed for still another 100 years, since among the Judean
kings there were a few pious ones. In addition, the people remembered God more
than in the Israelite kingdom. The prophets sent by God to the Judean kingdom
exposed the evil deeds of the Jews and foretold much about the coming of the
Saviour to earth. The Prophet Micah foretold that the Saviour would be born in
the city of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The Prophet Joel foretold the descent of the
Holy Spirit on the apostles and all those who believed in the Saviour.
The Prophet Isaiah.
Especially famous among the Jewish prophets was
the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah was a descendant of King David and a relative of the
kings of the Jews. The Lord made him a prophet through an extraordinary vision.
Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on a high throne. Around Him stood six-ringed
Seraphim, and they called out, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts! The
whole earth is full of His glory!" One of the Seraphim took with tongs a
burning coal from the heavenly altar, touched Isaiah’s lips and said,
"Behold, thy sins are purged." After this the Lord ordered him to go
and expose the unbelief and vices of the Jews.
The Prophet Isaiah foretold that the Judean
kingdom would be destroyed by enemies, the Jews would be taken into captivity
and then again would return to their homeland.
With particular clarity Isaiah foretold that the
Saviour, Christ, would come from the house of David, that the Saviour would be
born from a virgin and would not be a simple man, but also God. "Behold,
a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel"
(Is. 7:14) which means, "God is with us."
He foretold that the Saviour would suffer and die
for our sins. "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised
for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His
stripes we are healed...He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened
not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before
her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth" (Is. 53:5-7).
Isaiah also prophesied that the Saviour would be
crucified with evildoers, and would be buried not with them, but in the
tomb of a rich man. Through faith in Christ the Saviour, people would save
themselves from eternal damnation. For the clarity of his predictions about
Christ the Saviour, the Prophet Isaiah is called "the Old Testament
At that time Isaiah was ardently exposing the
wrongdoing of the Jewish King, Manasseh. The impious King placed altars to
pagan idols in Solomon’s Temple. However, at the end of Manasseh’s life, after
being taken captive and put in prison, he repented and asked God’s forgiveness.
Under the influence of their impious King, the Jewish people began to
completely forget the true God. The Jews even stopped celebrating the Passover
and other feasts established by Moses.
The holy Prophet Isaiah endured a martyr’s death.
For exposing the wrongdoing of King Manasseh, he was sawed in two.
II Kings, chaps. 16 and 18-23; II Chronicles, chaps. 28-35; Book of Isaiah and
The Fall of the Judean Kingdom. The Prophet Jeremiah.
For a long time the Lord endured the sins of the
Jewish people and awaited their repentance, but the people did not reform
themselves. Through the Prophet Jeremiah God clearly foretold that for their
evil deeds, the Jewish people would be subjugated and led into captivity by the
Babylonians and that the Jews would be in captivity for seventy years.
At first, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar
(Jer. 37:1) subjugated the Jewish King, but he preserved Jerusalem and did not
destroy all the Jewish kingdom.
The Prophet Jeremiah persuaded the Jews to submit
to Babylon. He pointed out that the Babylonians had been sent against the Jews
by God as a punishment for the sins of the kings and the people, and for their
apostasy from the faith. He told them that the only way to rid themselves of
the disaster was to repent, reform, and pray to God.
But neither the King nor the people listened to
the Prophet and instead they started a revolt. Then the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar
took Jerusalem, plundered it, set it on fire, and destroyed Solomon’s Temple to the foundation. At that time the Ark of the Covenant
was hidden in a cave by the Prophet Jeremiah.
All the Jewish people were taken into captivity
(in 589 B.C.). Only the poorest Jews were left on their land to cultivate the
vineyards and fields. The Prophet Jeremiah remained in Jerusalem. He grieved
over the ungodliness of his people amidst the ruins of the city and continued
to teach virtue to those inhabitants who stayed.
II Kings, chaps. 24-25; Book of the Prophet Jeremiah; II Chronicles, chap.
The Babylonian Captivity.
The Jews had a hard life in the Babylonian
captivity, but the Lord did not abandon His chosen people in exile. So as to
arouse repentance in the Jews and comfort them, the Lord sent to them His
prophets during the captivity. The Prophet Ezekiel and the Prophet Daniel were
particularly remarkable during this period.
The Prophet Ezekiel.
Ezekiel was a contemporary of the Prophet
Jeremiah. While in the Babylonian captivity, even before the final destruction
of the Judean kingdom, he was called by God to be a prophet.
The Prophet Ezekiel was made famous by his
prophecies about the resurrection of the dead, which simultaneously
symbolically represented the restoration to freedom of the Jewish people.
The Prophet had a vision from the Lord. He saw a
field strewn with men’s bones.
God asked him, "Son of man, will these bones
Ezekiel replied, "O Lord God, Thou knowest
The Lord said, "Prophesy upon these bones,
and thou shalt say to them, ‘Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’"
The Word of the Lord was as follows: "Thus
saith the Lord to these bones; Behold I will bring upon you the breath of life
and I will lay sinews upon you, and bring up flesh upon you, and will spread
skin upon you, and will put My Spirit into you, and ye shall live; and ye shall
know that I am the Lord" (Ezek. 37:3-6).
When Ezekiel prophesied, at God’s command there
was a noise and movement and the bones began to come together, each bone to its
appointed bone. Ezekiel saw there were sinews on them, and flesh appeared, and
skin covered them on top, but there was no spirit in them.
And the Lord said: "Prophesy to the wind;
prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, ‘Thus saith the Lord: Come from the
four winds, and breathe upon these dead men, and let them live" (Ezek.
The words, "from the four winds," mean
that from four ends of the world (north, south, east and west) dead souls,
wherever they might be, must gather in the field covered with spiritless bodies
and come to life.
Ezekiel uttered the prophecy as the Lord commanded
him, and the Spirit entered them and they came to life and stood on their feet.
The Lord said, "These bones are the whole
house of Israel....Therefore prophesy and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord: Behold I
will open your tombs, and will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall
know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, that I may bring up My
people from their graves. And I will put My Spirit within you, and ye shall
live, and I will place you upon your own land; and ye shall know that I am the
Lord" (Ezek. 37:11-14).
This great prophecy, besides pointing to
the restoration of the Israelite people, was given to us by God as a graphic
portrayal of the general resurrection of the dead at the second coming of
the Saviour, when, according to the all-powerful Word of God, all the bodies of
dead people will unite with their spirits and come to life.
II Kings, chap. 25:27-30; II Chron., chap. 36:10-23; Ezekiel, chap. 37:1-14.
The Prophet Daniel.
The Prophet Daniel was descended from the royal
family. While still a young boy, he was taken prisoner to a Babylonian prison.
In prison, by the will of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was chosen with several
other imprisoned youths of the children of Israel to serve in the King’s
palace. The King ordered that they be brought up in the palace, taught in
various fields of knowledge and in the language of the Chaldeans. The King
appointed them a daily provision of food from his own table. Among those chosen
besides Daniel were Ananias, Azarias, and Misael.
Daniel and his three friends firmly kept faith in
the true God. They did not wish to eat the King’s meat in order to avoid being
defiled by anything forbidden by the Law of Moses. They begged the prince of
eunuchs to give them only bread and vegetables. The prince would not agree for
fear they would lose weight, and the King would decapitate him. But Daniel
asked him to do as they asked for ten days. When ten days had passed, Daniel
and his friends not only did not lose weight, but they appeared fatter, more
healthy and fairer than all the other children. After this they were not
required to eat the King’s food. For such strict observance of the Law, for
their fasting and piety, God rewarded these young boys with great ability and
success in their studies. In tests, they proved to be more intelligent and
better than the others, and they were given positions in the King’s palace. To
Daniel, God gave the gift of interpreting dreams, as He had once to Joseph.
The rise of the Hebrew youths benefited the Jews
in captivity. The piety of the youths served to defend the Jews from oppression
and to better their life in captivity. Furthermore, through them the pagans
were able to come to a knowledge of the true God and to glorify Him.
One day Nebuchadnezzar had an unusual dream, but
when he awoke in the morning, he could not remember it. This dream greatly
distressed the King. He convened all his wise men and magicians and ordered
them to recall this dream and explain it. But they were not able do it and
said, "There is not a man upon the earth that can recall the dream for
the king" (Dan. 2:10). Nebuchadnezzar was infuriated and wanted to
destroy all the wise men of Babylon.
Then Daniel asked the King to give him some time,
and he would explain the dream. Going home, Daniel fervently implored God to
reveal to him this mystery. In a vision at night, God revealed to him the dream
of Nebuchadnezzar and its meaning.
Daniel went to the King and said, "O king,
thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass
hereafter ...Thou, O king, sawest and behold a great image. This great image,
whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was
terrible. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of
silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of
iron and part of clay" (Dan. 2:29, 31-33). Then from a mountain, by
itself, a stone was cut out without hands, and it smote the image upon his feet
that were of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces, then the whole image fell
apart and turned into dust, and the stone became a great mountain and filled
the whole earth. This, O King, is thy dream!
This dream," continued Daniel, "means
the following. Thou art a king of kings, for the God of Heaven hath given thee
a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory, and He hath made thee ruler over
all. Thou art this head of gold. After thee shall arise another kingdom
inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass which shall bear rule over
all the earth. The fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron: forasmuch as iron
breaketh in pieces and all these shall it break in pieces and bruise. But at
the same time that the kingdom shall be divided, the kingdom shall be partly
strong and partly broken. In the days of these last kings shall the God of
Heaven set up an eternal kingdom which shall not be left to other people, but
it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for
ever. Thus the great God hath made known to the King what shall come to pass
Hearing this, King Nebuchadnezzar stood up and
bowed down to the earth before Daniel, and said, "Of a truth it is,
that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings!" (Dan. 2:47).
He honored Daniel greatly by giving him great
gifts, seating him in the gate of the King, and making him ruler over the whole
province of Babylon and chief of the governors, over all the wise men of Babylon. His three friends Ananian, Azarias, and Misael were set
over the affairs of the province
The prophecy of Daniel was precisely fulfilled.
After the Babylonian kingdom, there followed three great kingdoms: the Median-Persian,
the Macedonian or Greek, and the Roman, each of which
reigned over the Jewish people. Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world,
appeared on earth during the Roman
empire, and established His
universal, eternal kingdom, the holy Church.
The mountain, from which was carved the
stone, represents the Holy Virgin Mary, and the stone, Christ and His
the Book of Daniel, chapters 1-2.
Friends of the Prophet Daniel
— Ananias, Azarias, and Misael — the Furnace of Babylon.
Shortly after, the friends of the Prophet Daniel,
Ananias, Azarias, and Misael (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego KJV), underwent a
great trial of their faith. King Nebuchadnezzar set up in the plain of Dura, in
the province of Babylon, a great image of gold. For its dedication all the
important and distinguished people of the Babylonian kingdom were gathered. It
was declared to all the people that when they heard the sound of the trumpet
and musical instruments, they must fall down and worship the golden image.
Whosoever did not comply with the order of the King would be thrown into a
burning fiery furnace. Upon the sound of the trumpet, all fell to the ground.
Only three — Ananias, Azarias, and Misael — failed to worship the image.
The King was enraged, and commanded that the
furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual, and to bind them and cast them
into the burning fiery furnace. The flames were so fierce that the soldiers who
threw them in the furnace fell dead. But Ananias, Azarias, and Misael remained
unharmed, because the Lord sent His angel to guard them in the midst of the
flames. They sang, glorifying the Lord.
Nebuchadnezzar sat on a high throne near the
furnace. When he heard the singing, he was astonished, then dumbfounded. He
rose up in haste and said to his counselors, "But I see four men loose,
walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not burnt, and the form of the
fourth is like the Son of God." Then he came near to the furnace and said,
"Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come
out and come here."
When they came, it was seen that the fire had had
no power over them, even their coats and hair were not singed, nor did they
smell of fire. Nebuchadnezzar, seeing this said, "Blessed be your God, Who
sent His angel and delivered his servants that trusted in Him."
The King forbade anyone, on penalty of death, to
speak anything amiss against the God of Israel.
the Book of Daniel, chap. 3.
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