Continued from previous posts:
“The past causes the present, and so the future. Any time we try to know why something happened…we have to look for factors that took shape earlier.” (1)
We start this story way back in the 13th Century BCE when God brought the Hebrews out of slavery in
and gave them their own land. Egypt
God offered them a deal; God would take care of the Hebrews if they would serve him. The Hebrews agreed, they entered the Promised Land, and all went well for a while.
But as time passed, the Hebrews split into two different kingdoms and both began to ignore their side of the bargain they had made with God.
Northern Kingdom: Israel Southern Kingdom: Judah
The people began worshiping other gods and sacrificing their children to these Gods. God used prophets to beg the people to return to him but that did not work. So then God sent warnings, saying if they did not keep their side of the deal, he would be forced to withdraw his protection and, in effect, punish them.
Sometimes a good king would come to power that would listen and lead the people back to worshiping God, but that did not happen often and, when it did happen, it did not last long. The Northern half of the split Hebrew kingdom was the worst, and evil king after evil king ignored God’s pleadings and warnings. God finally withdrew his protection and, in the year 722 BCE, the Assyrian army invaded, killing and taking prisoners, virtually wiping out the entire Northern kingdom.
But the Southern kingdom had not yet reached the end of its probation, if you will. For the most part, the people remained rebellious but God continued to plead with them and warn them until finally, more than a century after the Northern kingdom fell, he had to give up on the Southern kingdom. By this time the Assyrian kingdom was no longer the big dog in the area…Babylon had become the world’s dominant empire and was swallowing up country after country.
In Judah, the Southern kingdom of Israel, an evil king named Jehoiakim rose to the throne in the capitol city of Jerusalem. Little did he know what was going to happen during his short reign…God was fed up with Judah and had withdrawn his protection. During the third year of Jehoiakim’s turn as king, king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched his army into Judah and conquered the entire country.
Good people often get caught up in bad things, and not all of Judah had abandoned the worship of God. A young man named Daniel, and several of his friends, were faithful servants of God but, when Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar, they were caught up in the fray and taken as prisoners to the capitol city of Babylon. Here Daniel found favor with those in power and was assigned to work in the palace.