Understanding Bible History Pt 1: Overview
"Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:44-45
After the death of Moses and Joshua, the Book of Judges records Israel’s 400 years of apostacy when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). They wrestle among themselves and battle with the remaining countries that they failed to drive out of the Promised Land, resulting in constantly been hounded by enemies who desired to eliminate them, much like today.
The historical and biblical events I want to address relates to after Israel was divided into two Kingdoms (after the death of Samuel, Saul and David) covered primarily in Kings, Chronicles and the Prophets, who prophesied many of the events in history. Just like Ezra and Nehemiah, Israel is today going through the transition of receiving their Messiah like the first time when they rejected Him.
“41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44.
Dr Thomas Ice wonderfully provides detailed timeline that explains why the Jews should have known as Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy gives precise and accurate date when the Messiah was to visit them, although Simeon and Anna were waiting and others assumed that He will be the one to conquer their enemies, the Romans. Critically though the scholars and rabbis should’ve known, even the wise men knew and quoted Micah’s prophecy to Herod in Matthew 2. In the gospel of John, the people wonder whether Jesus himself might be this Prophet: “After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’” (John 6:14)
The transitions I mentioned are the return to the land, Trump’s Declaration of Jerusalem, Israel’s Nation-State Bill and the increasing interest to rebuild the temple. In the summer of 2018, in the midst all these momentous changes happening in Israel, I started to outline a few rough ideas of what I could include in a post with the intention of posting an article on the significance of Israel’s Nation-State Bill. At the time I intended to just concentrate on this. During this period, I was reading the book of Ezra for my daily devotion. I find myself studying the other exiles, which was accurately predicted by the prophets Jeremiah, Daniel, Amos, Hosea, and so on. As the people mourned the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, my mind took me back to when I visited Israel in 2017. I watched as the religious Jews visiting the tiny area, allocated to them with restrictions, called the “Western Wall” prayed and recited Psalms.
The Western Wall is the retaining wall built on the western side of the temple mount in Jerusalem due its proximity to where the Holy of Holies was situated in the temple. While visiting Israel U.S. Republican Congressman, Dave Reichert, said "It was only during my visit that I discovered how tiny this country is. The biggest difference between Israel and the United States is not only the size, but also that Israel is surrounded on all sides by enemies, unlike the United States which is surrounded only by friends.” In Nehemiah Sanballat, Horonite, Tobiah and Geshem mocked the Jews for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and just as today Israel is continuously mocked and denied their connection to Jerusalem, the people increasingly experience insults, discrimination, harassment, attacks against properties while the nation is on a 24/7 air defence system and inside Israel the people have been bombarded by a consistent wave of terror attacks. Israel has been in continuous conflict with her Muslim neighbours since its birth in 1948 and yet her enemies falsely claim they want peace. "We must constantly repeat that the root of the conflict is the very existence of the State of Israel, the refusal to recognize the State of Israel in any borders whatsoever." [Benjamin Netanyahu, 2012]
It is hard for me to talk about Israel and not address the injustice that I see. It is hard for people to understand this because of my background as a Muslim but when you believe and accept Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God, the Way, Truth and Life - nothing else matters but God’s Word and that entails believing the prophecies, accepting the nation of Israel as His chosen people and the land that belongs to Him and His people and defend this as mandated in His Word.
The events relating to Israel’s exile and post exilic period in Assyria, Babylon and Rome are captured in the Bible by the Prophets but you will also find accurate details confirmed by archaeological discoveries, antiquity in the hall of museums and in the pages of ancient historians.
God reveals His plans to the prophets:
“Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” Amos 3:7
"Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.” (Jeremiah 7:25-26)
“I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.” Hosea 12:10.
One of things I used to find difficult to get my head around was the times of the prophets and which events they were connected to and the Jewish and gentile kings reigning during their time. Although many have prophesied about Israel’s condition and the subsequent judgements and subjugation at the hands of the Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecian Empire and the Roman Empire, most famous prophecies, however, concern Jesus. Many of these prophesies are referenced in the New Testament and quoted by Jesus and later by the Apostles. There are also considerable prophecies detailing the end times, final restoration of Israel and the reign of Jesus, the establishment of His Kingdom on earth for 1000 years, and the destruction of Satan and His Kingdom.
After each empire I have listed the prophets who were present and prophesied the coming judgement which was to be enacted by the gentile powers. You will note that I have added the Hebrew names and its meaning because in the bible names are significant. Ray Stedman confirmed this when God told Isaiah to name his sons “God often used the meanings of names to teach Israel certain truths…... Their names are jaw-breakers to pronounce, but they mean something. The younger boy's name was Shearjashub, which means "a remnant shall return." That was God's promise to Israel that even though they were taken into captivity, a remnant would come back. The older boy's name was Mahershalalhashbaz. I don't know how they ever called these children in for lunch in those days. Mahershalalhashbaz means "haste to the prey" or "haste to the spoil," and it was God's prophetic way of telling the nation that they were in deep trouble. But he also comforted them with the words "a remnant shall return." Mr Stedman, again, states the significance of bible names: “in the book of Genesis the name of the man who gained fame as the world's oldest man was itself a prophecy. In fact, when Methuselah was born, his father, Enoch, learned something that he never forgot -- and it was hidden in the name of Methuselah. Methuselah lived 969 years, and his name means "When he dies, it will come." The year he died the flood came, so that shows something of the significance of the Hebrew names.” If you want to study the prophets further, armed with your bible, you can peruse through Ray Stedman’s website here and here.