R1372-60 Bible Study: The Downfall Of Judah

Change language 

::R1372 : page 60::



Golden Text—”Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”—Matt. 23:38

In this lesson we have an exhibition of the severity of God’s dealings with his covenant people when, notwithstanding the Lord’s repeated expostulations, warnings and chastisements, they wilfully pursued a course in violation of their national vows. Israel, unlike any other nation of the world, was brought into special relationship with God. God chose them to be his people, and favored them above all other people, by giving them his law, by raising up for them judges and prophets, and by specially guarding and directing them in so far as they submitted to his will, as well as by warning, counseling and chastising them when they became wilful and disobedient.

On the other hand, Israel, as a nation, entered into a solemn covenant with the Lord, saying, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” (Exod. 19:1-8.) For the faithful keeping of this covenant God promised them all manner of earthly blessings—blessings in the city, blessings in the field, blessings of a numerous offspring and of the increase of their cattle and their flocks, blessings of their basket and

::R1372 : page 61::

store, and ample protection from all their national enemies. (Deut. 28:1-14; Lev. 26:1-13.) But if they would disregard their covenant, corresponding curses were pronounced against them. If they walked contrary to him the Lord declared his intention to walk contrary to them.—Deut. 28:15-68; Lev. 26:14-46.

It was in fulfilment of this covenant on God’s part that the events of this lesson came to pass. Judah, like backsliding Israel (the ten tribes), which had been previously carried away captives (2 Kings 17:1-24), had not profited by that example of the Lord’s displeasure, nor by the warnings of his prophets, but had out-rivaled her sister in corruption (Jer. 3:8); and now her cup of iniquity was full and the Lord poured upon her her merited punishment, due alike to king and people; for “neither Zedekiah, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.”

The seventy years which followed the overthrow here depicted are frequently referred to as the seventy years captivity, but the Scriptures designate them the seventy years desolation of the land—a desolation which had been predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (25:11), saying, “And this whole land shall be a desolation, and this nation shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” The completeness of the desolation is shown in verses 8 and 9 of this lesson and also in 2 Chron. 36:17-21; and although the king of Babylon allowed certain of the poor of the land to remain, and gave them vineyards and fields, yet it was the Lord’s purpose that the land of Israel should be desolate seventy years, and so it was. In the same year Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor and under whom many of the Jewish fugitives were disposed to return from neighboring countries, was assassinated, and the entire population speedily removed into Egypt for fear of the wrath of the king of Babylon.—2 Kings 25:21-26; Jer. 41:1-3; 43:5,6.

The reason why the land must be desolate, and that for exactly seventy years, is a very interesting study, and it is clearly stated to be—”To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath to fulfill threescore and ten [70] years.” (2 Chron. 36:21.) For a full explanation of this see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. vi. The significance of the seventy years desolation is shown on page 191.

To consider the subject of this lesson merely as a scrap of history and to draw a moral lesson therefrom is to fail, utterly, of getting its true significance. It should be considered in its relationship to the great plan of God in which it was a clearly marked and important step.

(1) It marks the beginning of the great Jubilee cycle.

(2) It marks the close of God’s typical kingdom, of which Zedekiah was the last king, and concerning whom it was prophesied: “And thou, death-deserving wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day is come at the time of the iniquity of the end [or termination of the typical Kingdom of God]—Thus saith the Lord Eternal, Remove the mitre, and take off the crown: this shall not be so always; exalt him that is low, and make low him that is high. Overthrown, overthrown, overthrown will I render it also, and it shall not belong (to any one), until he come whose right it is, and I will give

::R1373 : page 61::

it him.”—Ezek. 21:31,32.—Leeser’s translation.

(3) It marks the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles, concerning which our Lord said, “Jerusalem shall [continue to] be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” [or completed].—Luke 21:24.

Nearly twenty-five hundred years have elapsed since Zedekiah lost his crown; and every scattered Israelite throughout the world realizes that not another king of the house of David, in which centered all the promises, has ever since been upon the throne. Many of them are convinced that they will not have another until Messiah shall take to himself his great power and reign. Yet they see not that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised one. The eyes of their understanding are yet blinded by prejudice. They see not that the heir of the throne must come from the seed of David, although they are witnesses that since the rejection of Jesus the genealogies which previously were sacredly cared for have been lost, and none have been kept for centuries by which they could distinguish an heir to David’s throne. In fact, all tribal and family relationships are now obliterated among the Jews. But, thank God, the morning of the restitution age is dawning, and in that day their blindness will be healed and they will recognize the fact that the one whom they pierced is both the son and the Lord of David, and the one whose right it is, to take the throne and to fulfil all the gracious promises of God.

While the Jews have been thus unbelieving of God’s Word and ignorant of the steps of his great plan, the other nations have erred in another way. Seeing Israel’s kingdom cut off, and finding themselves for centuries uninterfered with in ruling the world, they conclude that it shall so continue always, and know not that their days of empire are limited to “seven times” or 2520 years, which will end in A.D.

::R1373 : page 62::

1915, giving place to the Kingdom of God in the hands of the Messiah—him whose right it is to rule the world, and through whose kingdom all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Even the majority of the Christian people who throughout the civilized world study this lesson, and who for years have prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven,” have no expectation that he who redeemed the world is yet to be its veritable ruler, taking the kingly scepter and crown of which those removed from Zedekiah were only the types, and reorganizing God’s Kingdom “under the whole heavens” of which the kingdom of Israel was but a figure.

The Golden Text has no direct reference to the lesson, although connected with the same divine plan. It marks another step in that plan. When the seventy years of desolation were ended, God opened the way for the return to the land of promise of all those Israelites who had faith in his promises; yet under such difficulties and trials as served to sift and test them. But although they tried often to re-establish their own government, they were not permitted so to do, but were continually “overturned” between the several successive empires of gentile times. Nevertheless God kept them together as a people until Christ came (Gen. 49:10), that as a people they should have the first opportunity to accept him and come into the higher favor of the New Covenant.

It was after the Savior and his disciples had for three and a half years proclaimed the Kingdom at hand, and ready to be given them if they were ready to accept it properly (and when, rejecting it, they were crying out “Crucify him”), that the time came for the utter desolation of that nation as a people in the words of the golden text. There was the great turning point in Israel’s history. The desolation of the land for seventy years and the removal of the crown and kingdom for 2520 years was a great calamity, but the leaving of the house utterly desolate as a result of their rejecting and crucifying the King has been far worse, themselves being the witnesses.

Meantime what the nation of Israel rejected was accepted by a remnant of that people (Rom. 11:7) and the foreordained number is being completed from among the gentiles—a people for his name—the Bride and joint-heir of the King of Glory. Soon this “little flock” will be complete, the union of Bridegroom and Bride will follow, and then the Kingdom of God will come in power and great glory; and fleshly Israel will be first of the nations to realize its Millennial blessings.—Rom. 11:20-33.

These various topics are fully discussed in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chapters xiii. and xiv., and Vol. II., Chapters iv., v. and vi.


— February 15, 1892 —