Welcome back to our Sunday School lesson on: My Bible-Can I Trust It? We are taking a survey of the entire Bible.
What we've covered so far:
Our current section: The books of Prophecy (Isaiah through Malachi) The books of prophecy can be divided into two sections, the major and minor prophets.
The major prophets include:
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
The minor prophets (called minor because of their small length, not because they are less important) include:
Hosea through Malachi (12 books total).
Last week we looked at Isaiah and Jeremiah. Today, let's finish up the major prophets with Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
 References used: Alex Bauman, My Bible: Can I Trust it? Regular Baptist Press Press, 2011, and also Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980).
The prophet Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. Because of 40 years of rejection and disobedience from Israel, Jeremiah prophesied the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in Jeremiah 1:14-16. After the city fell, Jeremiah documented what he saw and experienced in the book of Lamentations.
Some have called this book a funeral of a city; full of mourning and lament.
Yet in this book of sorrows, Jeremiah recorded the promises of God’s faithfulness to encourage Israel. Since Jeremiah wrote this book after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took captive the Israelites, the book was likely written around 586 BC.
We discover 3 themes in this book:
1) One of mourning due to this holocaust. Because of their disobedience, Israel saw and experienced the promised judgement of God.
2) The confession and acknowledgement of a nation’s sin.
3) A message of hope - a covenant keeping God will not only judge, but restore His people as He has promised.
Key verses in this book:
Lamentations 2:5-6 – “5 The Lord has become like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel; He has swallowed up all its palaces, He has destroyed its strongholds and multiplied in the daughter of Judah mourning and moaning. 6 And He has violently treated His tabernacle like a garden booth; He has destroyed His appointed meeting place. The LORD has caused to be forgotten the appointed feast and sabbath in Zion, and He has despised king and priest in the indignation of His anger.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 – “22 The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
This book is a living testimony of how God hates disobedience. Also, of how He loves His people enough to discipline them, as well as fulfill all His promises made to them.
Does Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations resemble an account in the life of Christ?
Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in three stages, one in 605 BC (Daniel was taken captive), a second time in 597 BC (Ezekiel was taken captive), and a final one in 586 BC (when Jeremiah wrote Lamentations). The total time it took Nebuchadnezzar to completely conquer Jerusalem was close to 20 years.
Ezekiel wrote this book that bears his name around 565 BC, approximately 20 years after Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations. Both Ezekiel and Daniel were likely the same age, teenagers, when they were taken captive, and both at least 20 years younger than Jeremiah.
Ezekiel knew very little of freedom.
When he became of age, Ezekiel became a priest and prophet perhaps during the worse times of Israel’s history – a seventy-year period of captivity and enslavement! During that time, Ezekiel used parables, signs, symbols, and was known to dramatize his prophetic messages – for example, digging a hole in the wall and lying on his side for many days (Ez 12:1-7). He also saw many visions, such as the wheel in the middle of the wheel and the valley of the dry bones.
Similar to Jeremiah’s prophecies, Ezekiel’s prophetic themes were one of condemnation and consolation regarding Israel. Ezekiel’s ministry was to the exiled Jews in Babylon. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel not only reminded Israel of her sin, but also reminded them of God’s faithful promises. It’s sort of like how any father would discipline his children. The discipline is usually not that pleasant, in fact, it hurts! But before, during, and after the discipline, a good father will always remind his children of his undying love and commitment to them. That is what God is doing through the prophet Ezekiel.
Key verses in this book:
Ezekiel 36:24-26 – “24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.”
Ezekiel 36:33-35 – “33 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. 34 “The desolate land will be cultivated instead of being a desolation in the sight of everyone who passes by. 35 “They will say, ‘This desolate land has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited.”
Because of Ezekiel, we have very detailed descriptions and measurements of the millennial kingdom, a place waiting for both Israel and the church.
The prophet, who wrote this book, was taken captive as a teenager and deported to Babylon, along with three of his Hebrew friends, during Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Jerusalem. The first part of Daniel’s book gives historical events of his life, such as his ordeal in the lion’s den. The second part describes prophecies of the future concerning Israel and the Gentiles.
Like the prophet Ezekiel, Daniel spent most of his life enslaved.
What’s more, Daniel actually served in 3 administrations, under the Babylonians in 605 BC, the Medes, then the Persians in 539 BC – each administration conquering the former. Daniel’s ministry however, unlike Ezekiel’s and Jeremiah’s, was both to Israel and the conquering administrations. During the Persian reign, Israel fell in favor with Cyrus, the Persian king, and let them return to the land of Israel under the leadership of Zerubbabel. Daniel stayed in Babylon. Daniel’s ministry to the conquering nations lasted until he was in his 80s.
The book of Daniel is critical in understanding God’s prophetic timetable. Studying this book will give you a strong foundation for studying the book of Revelation. As pastor Andy has said before, Daniel is the basement and Revelation is the ceiling. The prophecies in Daniel’s book are strikingly accurate, some being fulfilled in his own day and many yet to be fulfilled. Like the prophets above, Daniel’s prophecies were to give hope to exiled Israel outside of her land. Also, Daniel predicted the exact time they would suffer under the hand of the Gentiles nations, better known as the Times of the Gentiles. After that, Israel is to enjoy the covenant promises in full during an everlasting Messianic Kingdom.
Daniel’s apparent theme in his book is God’s absolute power, direction, and sovereignty over the affairs of humans.
Absolutely nothing is outside of God’s knowledge and control. What an encouraging thing to know as we fall in very confusing times such as this corona virus pandemic – He is still in control. In fact, he never lost it in the first place. So why should we?
Key verses in this book:
Daniel 2:20-22 – “20 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. 21 “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding. 22 “It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.”
Daniel 2:44 – “44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.”
A very important chapter to know is chapter 9, particularly verses 24-27.
“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 “So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 “Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. 27 “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
The above passage is Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy. It predicts the chronological timeline of Israel’s captivity all the way to the Messianic Kingdom promised to Abraham’s descendants. The Bible affirms that the first 69 weeks have been fulfilled - those 69 weeks started in the time of Daniel and continued all the way to the day Christ presented Himself as the nation’s Messiah, better known as Christ’s Triumphal Entry. The last week is yet to be fulfilled.
The last week will happen during the seven-year Tribulation (the seventieth week). The church age, in which we find ourselves in today, is a pause in the timeline. Why the divine pause? So that the church age, an eternal plan of God (Rom 8:28; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2), might be fulfilled. God desires all men to be saved by the hearing of the gospel, the task of the church, before the last seven years, the Great tribulation, comes upon Israel (Dan 9:24) and the world.
Knowledge of this should motivate us to share the gospel even more!
The reassuring thing in all this is that the church will
not be a part of the 70the week, or the Great Tribulation.
The church was not appointed for that. (1 Thess. 5:9).
In light of this, may we praise Him and live for His glory
more and more each day!
This concludes our lessons on the major prophets. Next week, we'll dive into the minor prophets. I pray that through these lessons we all find a deeper love for God and His prophetic word.
Stay safe and healthy!