Lesson 10 – The Four Greater Prophetic Books

Introduction

Now you have a certain knowledge of the historical framework of the people formed by God to welcome the Messiah, Jesus. You are thus in measure of understanding the prophets. Without this knowledge, no one can grasp the insinuations of these men sent by God to rectify the continual deviations of the Israelites, deviations to which all of us are exposed. This renders the prophets’ sayings valid to men of all times, if however we are capable of translating and adapting them to the historical context of the different times.

The study of the Prophetic Books gives a complementary aspect to the Historical Books. They reveal the spiritual sense of the events, the true designs -often hidden- of God. It is necessary to know how to read between the lines to understand the prophets and grasp the finesse of their insinuations. Living in a Zionist politicized environment, they often faced insurmountable difficulties to express the spiritual, anti-Zionist thoughts of God. They were persecuted and rejected most of the time, considered traitors to the “homeland” and to the kingdom; a homeland and a kingdom never desired by God. They were considered prophets except after their death, after having been persecuted while alive (read what Jesus says of this in Matthew 23,29-39).

The prophet is a spokesman of God. God manifests himself to the prophet, asking him to reveal his view, his advice or his judgements on events and the attitudes of men, particularly those responsible leaders (kings, priests). They are invited, under penalty of divine punishment, to yield to the divine thoughts and requirements. Mostly, it was about renouncing the Zionist mentality (a morbid attachment to the exclusive possession of the Palestinian land and the Israeli empire). Jeremiah, for example, was persecuted, as you will see, for having said to the Jews to subject themselves to Nebuchadnezzar and for having announced the destruction of the Temple.

The essence of the prophetic message pivots around two points:

  1. The deportation as punishment of unfaithfulness,
  2. The future sending of a savior (the Messiah) whom the Jews mistakenly imagined as a politico-military leader.

The Prophetic Books are the writings of the words and actions of the prophets who existed just before, during, and shortly after the deportation. They thus prophesied the exile, lived it, and announced the return from exile (after 70 years in exile) and the reconstruction of the Temple (the second).

This fact of the deportation has deeply bruised the Israelites’ soul. The Jews were on the lookout for a solution to the tragedy they were going through, seeking the “liberation of Israel” (according to the prophetic expression). Along the centuries, the hope of liberation revolved around the person of the awaited Messiah, with extreme impatience and thirst. But this Messiah was to liberate the soul from sin, not the Jews from a political situation.

Before reading a prophet, he must be placed in his historical context: did he exist before, during, or after the Assyrian invasion of the North (Israel: 721 BC), the fall of Nineveh (612 BC), the battles of Megiddo, of Carchemish, the Babylonian invasion of the South (Judaea), the return from exile, the reconstruction of the Temple (515 BC)? These historical stages accompany the Prophetic Books. Keep them in mind.

The prophets in question in these books are to be distinguished from other prophets, like Elijah and Elisha, or still, the group of prophets mentioned in 1 Samuel 10,5-6. We do not have any written collections from this latter. We only know of them, what is reported in the Historical Books.

The prophets we are about to see (considered as “writer” prophets), existed over a period of approximately 300 years (750 to 450 BC). They are generally divided into two groups:

  1. The 4 “Greater” prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.
  2. The 12 “Lesser” prophets.

The first ones are known as “Greater” because their books are bigger than the “Lesser” Books of the 12 others, and not because of a spiritual dignity (compare Isaiah’s 66 chapters to Joel’s 4 chapters and Obadiah’s single chapter).

Along with the 4 greater prophets, I will include, in studying Jeremiah, the Book of “Lamentations” of Jeremiah and the prophet “Baruch” whose smaller book follows that of Jeremiah’s, having been the disciple and secretary of this latter. The Book of Baruch is not found in the Hebraic Bible.

Certain Bibles (like the Bible of Jerusalem) add useful introductions to the Historical Books. They aid in knowing the time during which the prophet lived, and in understanding him better. It would be good, later, for you to get to know better one or two prophets. I suggest Jeremiah, who is very close to us psychologically, and to Jesus spiritually.

We begin the 4 greater prophets with Isaiah. As with all the Prophetic Books, read them only after my explanations.

Isaiah

Isaiah is a senior royal official. He largely influenced the events of his time. He was born around 765 BC. In the year 740, at the age of 25, he had a vision in which God entrusted him the difficult and courageous mission of announcing Israel’s ruin, followed by Judah, as punishment to the multiple infidelities of the Jews.

In chapter 6, Isaiah recounts his vision in which God asks: “Whom shall I send? Who will be our messenger?” And Isaiah answers without hesitation, courageously: “Here I am, send me.” It was necessary, certainly, to have a strong character to accept the painful and dangerous mission of denouncing the kings and the powerful of the royal court. Jeremiah, like Moses, started by declining the divine offer (Jeremiah 1,6). It is not a light and pleasant load to reprimand the powerful, even on behalf of God; it is never done without persecutions, unbearable most of the time. Isaiah’s courage is admirable.

Read this 6th chapter; in it, God announces the deportation to the Jews: “Towns have been laid waste and deserted, houses left untenanted… Yahweh drives the people out. There will be a great emptiness in the country… only the stock remains. The stock is a holy seed.” This stock is the “small remainder” of which I spoke, and who God saves to pursue his Messianic plan.

Isaiah predicted the exile more than once: “My people will go into exile, for want of perception” (Isaiah 5,13), but a remainder will survive to pursue the mission: “Those who are left of Zion and remain of Jerusalem shall be called holy” (Isaiah 4,3). This theme of a “small remainder” was first revealed by the prophet Amos who had a large spiritual influence on Isaiah (Amos 3,11-12 / 5,15). Amos preceded Isaiah by a little time. He was old and had already prophesied for almost 40 years when Isaiah began his mission.

Other than the deportation, Isaiah’s most important prophecies concern the Messiah. I point out to you the most important:

“Immanuel” (Isaiah 7,14)

Isaiah declares to king Ahaz who wanted a son: “The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden (“almah” in Hebrew) is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.” This name means: “God with us”. This is a “sign” that God will give on his behalf (Isaiah 7,14).

To understand this prophecy, we should know the historical context in which it was proclaimed. Go back to 2 Kings 16. It is king Ahaz’s question to which Isaiah addresses. At this time, Pekah (known as “son of Remaliah” in Isaiah 7,9) was king of Israel and Razon king of Syria (Aram: Isaiah 7,1). The king of Assyria (Tiglath-Pileser, called “Pul”: 2 Kings 15,19) threatened the whole region. Razon and Pekah wanted to engage Ahaz with them against Pul, but he refused. He offered his only son, heir to the throne, in sacrifice to the idols (2 Kings 16,3) to ward off fate. He therefore no longer had an heir, and the dynastic succession was threatened.

Razon and Pekah decided to invade Judaea to dethrone Ahaz and place a king on Judaea’s throne (“the son of Tabeel” see Isaiah 7,6) who would ally with them against Pul (Isaiah 7,1-2). Ahaz was afraid: “The heart of the king and the hearts of the people shuddered as the trees…” (Isaiah 7,2) But God sent Isaiah towards Ahaz to calm him by assuring that “these two smoldering stumps of firebrands” (Isaiah 7,4), Razon and Pekah, will not succeed in their venture against Judaea because “the capital of Aram is Damascus, the head of Damascus, Razon, the capital of Ephraim (in the North), Samaria, the head of Samaria, the son of Remaliah (Pekah)” (Isaiah 7,8-9), which implies that the capital of Judaea is Jerusalem and the head of Jerusalem is Ahaz. God also seizes the occasion to reveal the near crushing of Samaria: “Six or five years more and a shattered Ephraim shall no longer be a people.” (Isaiah 7,8) It is the announcement of the northern Assyrian invasion (Samaria).

Ahaz is overwhelmed by the events and the loss of his only son whom he had himself sacrificed. But the prophecies had predicted that the “Son of David”, the awaited Messiah, would be installed on David’s throne forever. Isaiah confirmed that, he too: “A shoot (the Messiah) springs out from the stock of Jesse (David’s father) … on him the Spirit of Yahweh rests…” (Isaiah 11,1-2) There is thus nothing to fear regarding the throne because the “Lord himself will give you a sign: the “almah” is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7,14) The pregnancy of the young queen was a divine sign given to Ahaz for two reasons:
– Ahaz did not know that his wife was pregnant
– He did not know that the child was a boy. This son is not given by God to please Ahaz who had shown to be more impious than other kings, but to accomplish the Messianic designs of God.

King Hezekiah succeeded his father Ahaz. He was a reformer and “did what is pleasing to Yahweh”, in abolishing the idols and Moses’ bronze serpent too (2 Kings 18,1-4). But he was not this “Immanuel” who was to reunite Judaea and Israel, to return the exiled Jews from Assyria that they may “pillage the sons of the East…” and establish, together, the illusionary Zionist empire through plunder… (Isaiah 11,10-16)

It was save eight centuries later that the prophecy of Immanuel was accomplished. It was then that it was understood by those who have eyes to see and an intelligence capable of understanding the designs of God. Matthew reveals that it is with Jesus that this prophecy was fulfilled:
“Now all this took place to fulfill the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet: The Virgin (Almah) will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel” (Matthew 1,22-23).

God wanted that his Messiah be born from the Virgin Mary, the “Almah” par excellence, whom Isaiah spoke of. Therefore, it is only with its fulfillment that a prophecy, in general, is understood. It is thus necessary to be awake and attentive, supple and willing to understand God’s intentions, without insisting on our points of view -as did the Jews who refused Jesus- but on those of God.

We should retain from the name “Immanuel”, that it is symbolic since it means “God with us” as Matthew explains. Hence, the Messiah should not necessarily bare that name, as many Jews had understood, but that he is “God with us”, God living among us corporally, on earth. This fact is confirmed by other symbolic names that Isaiah gives to the Messiah: “This is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.” (Isaiah 9,5) These names reveal the divine identity of the Messiah. Indeed, God said through Ezekiel: “I am going to take care of my flock myself…” (Ezekiel 34,11)

Isaiah unconsciously felt the need of the divine incarnation; addressing himself to God, he exclaimed: “Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down” (Isaiah 63,19).

The Messiah is Galilean

Isaiah sees “a Great light” on the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, tribes of Northern Palestine, in Galilee, there where Jesus lived (Isaiah 8,23-9,6). Bordering Lebanon, which was pagan at that time, this region’s inhabitants were detested by the Jews who considered them soiled by their pagan neighbors: “From Nazareth (in Galilee)? Can anything good come from that place?”, says Nathanael to Philip (John 1,45-46). And the Pharisees, seeing that Nicodemus was defending Jesus, said to him: “Study the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not arise in Galilee” (John 7,52).

If the Pharisees had themselves well studied the prophecies, they would have understood that, contrary to what they thought, the Messiah, the most important of all prophets, was to emerge specifically from Galilee. Isaiah indeed says:

“In days past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali (Galilee), but in days to come he will confer glory on the Way of the Sea on the far side of Jordan, province of the nations (the pagans). The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land (Galilee) of deep shadow a light (the Messiah) has shone… For there is a child born for us, a son given to us (Immanuel, the Son of the Almah-Virgin), and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: “Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace.” (Isaiah 8,23 – 9,5)

In his gospel, Matthew refers to this prophecy of Isaiah (Matthew 4,12-16).

Humiliated by the Assyrian invader, Galilee was then glorified by Jesus who lived and worked in Nazareth (Zebulun), and preached in Capernaum (Naphtali).

The Messiah will be persecuted and put to death by the Jews.

Isaiah had predicted that the Messiah would be rejected by his people, that he would be subject to atrocious suffering and led to death. But he also foretold His resurrection since “His soul’s anguish over, he shall see the light and be content. By his sufferings shall my servant (the Messiah is the “Servant” of God) justify many, taking their faults on himself.” (Isaiah 53,11) The light that this faithful servant will see is that of resurrection after death.
I report the principal verses of chapter 53 of Isaiah which speaks of this Good Servant by explaining them in italic in between parentheses:

“Who could believe what we have heard? (Isaiah 53,1: who would have believed that the long awaited Messiah would be a poor and rejected anti-Zionist) … “Without beauty, without majesty (we saw him), no looks to attract our eyes (Isaiah 53,2: He comes from a poor and modest society, no pompous clothes or human glory) … He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering… and we (by the Jews themselves, his people!) took no account of him. And yet ours were the sufferings he bore… But we (Jews), we thought of him as someone punished, struck by God, and brought low. Yet he was pierced through (the crucifixion) for our faults… Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living; for our faults struck down in death… If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs… His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light (the Resurrection) …”

Read this chapter now. No one has ever written more beautifully or more truthfully, even after the Advent of Jesus who fulfilled all these prophecies. When he walked with the disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24,25-27), Jesus tells them: “‘Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ … Then He explained to them the passages throughout the Scriptures that were about himself.” Chapter 53 of Isaiah (as well as Psalm 22) was part of his explanations. We ask ourselves how certain Jews still do not understand! The answer is that they are blinded by the Zionist mentality: greed for power and possession.

The “consolation” of Israel

The last 26 chapters of Isaiah are intended to comfort the Jews in announcing to them of salvation. This salvation was misunderstood as the return to Palestine and the “national Jewish” restoration. But God was referring to the spiritual salvation brought by Jesus for all men, but rejected by many Jews. These chapters are known as “the Book of consolation” because they begin as follows: “‘Console my people, console them, speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call to her that her time of service is ended, that her sin is atoned for’ (by sending the Messiah in the future) … A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for Yahweh…’” (Isaiah 40,1-4). These verses were applied by the Gospels to John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the Messiah in the desert of sleeping souls (Matthew 3,3).

Some think that these chapters of consolation were not written by Isaiah himself but by his disciples after the return from exile.

We ignore the end of Isaiah. According to a Jewish tradition, he would have been put to death, sawn into two, under king Manasseh who, “shed innocent blood in such great quantity that he flooded Jerusalem… apart from doing what is displeasing to Yahweh.” (2 Kings 21,16)


Isaiah’s chronology

Jeremiah – Lamentations – Baruch

Jeremiah

Jeremiah is of a sacerdotal family established near Jerusalem, in Anathoth (Jeremiah 1,1). He prophesied in Jerusalem since Josiah’s 13th year (626 BC), “until the eleventh year of Zedekiah” (Jeremiah 1,3), which is the year of the deportation (2 Kings 25,2). He thus personally lived the tragedy of the deportation since its preparation and had predicted it.

The fall of Nineveh (612 BC) and Josiah’s reforms gave some hope of salvation, but despair surprised the Israelites with the dramatic defeat of Megiddo (609 BC) and the surge of Babylonian threats.

Jeremiah was son of the high priest Hilkiah (Jeremiah 1,1). He was called by God when he was still a very young man: “‘The word of Yahweh came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… I appointed you as a prophet to the nations’. I said, ‘Ah, Lord Yahweh; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’” (Jeremiah 1,5-6). But, despite his adolescence, God insisted: “Do not say: ‘I am a child’… for I am with you to protect you… There! I am putting my words into your mouth… I am setting you over nations and over kingdoms, to tear up and to knock down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.’” (Jeremiah 1,6-10) Before building, God must destroy what men built without his consent.

Note that Jeremiah is chosen as prophet “of the nations”, not only of the Israelites; he is thus universal: “over nations and over kingdoms“. He must “destroy and overthrow” to be able to “build and to plant” afterwards. His mission is similar to the prophet of the Apocalypse who must “prophesy about many different nations and countries and languages and emperors.” (Revelation 10,11)

Jeremiah has the difficult mission of announcing the Babylonian invasion through the North, the destruction of Solomon’s Temple and the deportation, followed by the return after 70 years of exile: “The North is where disaster is boiling over for all who live in this land… (Jeremiah 1,14) … Now I will bring on all you an invincible nation… they will devour your sons and daughters… bring down your fortified towns” (Jeremiah 5,13-17). As thus speaks Yahweh: “Only when the seventy years granted to Babylon are over, will I visit you and fulfill my promise in your favor by bringing you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29,4-10)

On the other hand, the false prophets contradicted Jeremiah: “No evil will overtake us, we shall not see sword or famine…” (Jeremiah 5,12) This gave the people false hopes and the people preferred to listen to the priests and the so-called prophets who prophesied peace and security, rather than Jeremiah, who prophesied the bitter truth. God always intervened to ask Jeremiah to proclaim: “Monstrous, horrible things are happening in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests teach whatever they please. And my people love it! But when the end comes, what will you do?” (Jeremiah 5,30-31)

God unceasingly reprimanded the laymen and religious chiefs, and Jeremiah always transmitted the message with courage: “The priests have never asked, ‘Where is Yahweh?’ Those who administer the Law have no knowledge of me, (they have misinterpreted the words of God, understanding them in a political spirit, a spirit condemned by God). The shepherds (kings) have rebelled against me (doing “what is displeasing to Yahweh”); the prophets (who claimed to be prophets) have prophesied in the name of Baal…” (Jeremiah 2,8)

Jeremiah also denounced the bad Jewish interpreters, scribes and priests, as they attribute sayings to God in the Torah that He never said. This is why he qualifies “the lying pen” of the scribes, which changed the Torah into lies at the service of their interests (Jeremiah 8,8), prescribing animal sacrifices and a worship that God never demanded: “For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I said nothing to them, gave them no orders, about holocaust and sacrifice. These were my orders: Listen to my Voice… (Jeremiah 7,22-23) … How dare you say: ‘We are wise, and we possess the Law of Yahweh? But look how it has been falsified by the lying pen of the scribes!’” (Jeremiah 8,8)

To note that Jeremiah, being from a sacerdotal family and son of the high priest Hilkiah, was well placed to know that the scribes had manipulated the text of the Torah to their interest, with their “lying pen” (Jeremiah 8,8). As it is this same Hilkiah, his father, who had found the text of the Torah in the Temple (2 Kings 22,8). He must have spoken to his son, Jeremiah, about it; who thus learnt that the scribes and the priests had modified the texts to their convenience. Jesus did not fail to denounce, He too, the “hypocrite scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 23).

As Jesus with the second Temple, Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the first Temple: “Do you take this temple that bears my name for a robbers’? … I will treat this Temple… just as I treated Shiloh.” (Jeremiah 7,11-14) (Shiloh is the city where the first sanctuary was found, and that was destroyed by the Philistines, the Palestinians of the time: 1 Samuel 4,17-18)

The Israelites did not want to believe Jeremiah even after Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion and their deportation. Indeed, he had predicted that the exile would last: 70 years (Jeremiah 25,11). Hananiah the prophet contradicts him: “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says this, ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. In two years’ time I will bring back all the vessels of the Temple of Yahweh… and all the exiles of Judah who have gone to Babylon…” (Jeremiah 28,1-4) Therefore, Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles, recommending them to organize themselves in Babylon to “build houses, settle down… take wives and have sons and daughters… Work for the good of the country to which I have exiled you; pray to Yahweh on its behalf… For Yahweh says this: Only when the seventy years granted to Babylon are over… I will bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29,4-10) It was absurd for many Jews to pray in favor of the Babylonians, their enemies. They saw in Jeremiah a traitor and persecuted him. Compare with Jesus who asked the Jews “to love and to pray for their enemies” (Luke 6,27).

We recognize the real prophet from the false when the prophecies are accomplished. Jeremiah, as all the authentic prophets, knew that God spoke to him and had sent him. The false prophets are guilty because they falsely use God’s Name. This is why Jeremiah warned against these liars who claimed to speak on behalf of God: “Do not be deceived by the prophets… do not listen to the dreams they dream, since they prophesy lies to you in my name. I have not sent them—it is Yahweh who speaks.” (Jeremiah 29,8-9)

Jeremiah’s firm attitude was the cause for his persecution: Pashhur, the Temple’s chief of police, “had Jeremiah beaten and then put in the stocks…” (Jeremiah 20,1-2)

The increasing animosity almost demoralized the prophet: “I hear so many disparaging me… All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall… A curse on the day when I was born!” (Jeremiah 20,10-15) God revealed to him that even his family would line up against him: “Yes, even your own brothers and your own family play you false. Behind your back, they too criticize you openly. Put no reliance on them when they seem to be friendly.” (Jeremiah 12,6)

Jeremiah’s mission weighed heavy on his shoulders: “Woe is me, my mother, for you have borne me to be a man of strife and dissension for all the land.” (Jeremiah 15,10) Discouraged, he almost abandoned his heavy burden: “The word of Yahweh has meant for me insult, derision, all day long. I used to say, ‘I will not think about Him, I will not speak in His name any more.’” (Jeremiah 20,8-9) And Jeremiah guarded his silence. But God does not abandon his prophets, He burns the most profound parts of themselves by His love, insisting and obtaining from them the testimony that He wants. Jeremiah acknowledges that his silence was like a fire burning his heart: “… then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart… The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not bear it.” (Jeremiah 20,9) The prophet ends up yielding to the love of God, powerful and intoxicating love and, resuming his mission for God’s sake and says: “You have seduced me, Yahweh, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.” (Jeremiah 20,7) This beautiful attitude of profound love contrasts to that of Jacob’s, “Israel”, who claimed to defeat God! (Genesis 32,25-33). The grandeur of a man, his greatest victory, is to let himself be vanquished by God.

The internal and intense suffering purified Jeremiah’s heart. “Seduced” by God, he assumed his mission until the end. Fortunately for us, because he prophesied the “New Covenant” which Jesus was to establish: “See, the days are coming—it is Yahweh who speaks—when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah, but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors… They broke that covenant of mine… The covenant I will make with the House of Israel… I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts…” (Jeremiah 31,31-34) Read this text and contemplate it well, comparing it with the words of Jesus: “The kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17,21) It is at the price of his sacrifice that Jesus founded this New Covenant: “This cup”, he said to his Apostles, “is the New Covenant in my blood poured out for you”. (Luke 22,20)

Note well that Jeremiah, speaking of this new Covenant, does not mention a “promised land”, but an interior life, God inscribing his words in the hearts of believers and “there will be no further need for neighbor to try to teach neighbor, or brother to say to brother, ‘Learn to know Yahweh!’ No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest…” (Jeremiah 31,34) This means that believers will no longer have to insist on those who do not believe in order to spread knowledge of God, this knowledge being already widespread all over the world, as is the case today. The one who is thirsty will find it, the one who desires it not will neglect it: “Meanwhile, let the sinner go on sinning, and the unclean continue to be unclean; let those who do good go on doing good, and those who are holy continue to be holy”, says the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22,11). Each person is free to choose between the momentary temporal pleasures and the permanent joys of Eternity.

God asked Jeremiah to write his prophecies and send them to king Jehoiakim. “Jeremiah therefore summoned Baruch son of Neriah, who at his dictation wrote down on the scroll all the words Yahweh had spoken to him.” (Jeremiah 36,1-4) The king remained incredulous and burnt the scroll (Jeremiah 36,23). Jeremiah had to dictate his prophecies a second time to Baruch, “with many similar words in addition.” (Jeremiah 36,32) It is this Baruch that we will speak of further down.

Jeremiah had advised the Jews not to resist Nebuchadnezzar’s troops, but to surrender instead, or leave Jerusalem: “Those who stay in this city will die by sword, by famine, or by plague; but anyone who leaves it and surrenders to the Chaldaeans (Babylonians) now besieging it will live; he shall escape with his life.” (Jeremiah 21,8-9) Some leading men were against him for having spoken this way (Jeremiah 38,1-3) and wanted to kill him. They insisted on king Zedekiah: “Let this man be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this.” King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your hands…” So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well… and into the mud Jeremiah sank.” (Jeremiah 38,4-6) Read chapter 38 and the one that follows to know how the king saved the prophet from a horrible and certain death, and how Nebuchadnezzar then took him out of prison, treating him better than the supposedly pious Jews had done.

The dramatic situation experienced by the Israelites raised the hope for the messianic salvation. Jeremiah proclaimed deliverance through the future Advent of the Messiah. But this Messiah is still conceived as a political king who “will restore” the nation (Jeremiah 30,18). Now the restoration according to God is spiritual; it was launched by Jesus to be completed, in the end of times, with the definitive downfall of the current State of Israel (Acts 3,21). You will find in Jeremiah 23,5-6 and Jeremiah 30,8-9 two messianic prophecies.

Jeremiah was taken along by force to Egypt by a group of Israelites who fled the country despite the urgent injunctions of God, by Jeremiah, commanding them to remain in Jerusalem.

We know nothing of Jeremiah after that. It is probable that his last days were in Egypt. Read chapters 42 and 43, which speak of this event, prophesying the Babylonian invasion against Egypt, and then continue your reading of the Book of Jeremiah.

To note that Jeremiah was of a sacerdotal family. His father “Hilkiah”, was the high priest who found the “Book of the Law” (Torah) in the Temple. It is on this book’s basis that king Josiah undertook the religious reforms. The scribes and priests added to this book’s text clauses appropriate to them. Jeremiah, being the son of the high priest, was informed of it and revealed this infamy in Jeremiah 7,22 and 8,8. It is up to us to learn the lesson!

The Book of Lamentations

These lamentations, or “moaning”, were composed after Jerusalem’s ruin and the fire of the Temple. Perhaps Jeremiah has written certain verses, but there are probably more than one author. All cry and make funeral verses to express their mourning after the defeat of Jerusalem. Read it with this spirit: “Oh, how lonely she sits, the city once thronged with people, as if suddenly widowed. Though once great among the nations, she, the princess among provinces, is now reduced to vassalage.” (Lamentations 1,1) See 2 Chronicles 35,25 in relation to the lamentation composed by Jeremiah after king Josiah’s death in Megiddo.


The Prophet Jeremiah

Appendix of the study of Jeremiah

The 5 kings at the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1,2)
(2 Kings 22 to 26 and 2 Chronicles 34 to 36)

1. Josiah 640-609 BC (Grand religious reforms + Book of the Law re-found)
In 609, Necho came to the aid of the Assyrians against the Babylonians; Josiah tried to prevent the junction between the Egyptians and the Assyrians. He desired the definitive ruin of Assyria, which still occupied a part of northern Israel. Its defeat was thus advantageous to the kingdom of Judah. But Necho killed Josiah at Megiddo in 609 BC, then continued his route to Carchemish where Nebuchadnezzar overcame him in 605 BC (2 Kings 23,29 and 2 Chronicles 35,20-25). That put an end to the Assyrian empire.

2. Jehoahaz 609 BC
He remained three months on the throne after Josiah’s death. After Assyria’s defeat at Carchemish, Necho, on his way back to Egypt, seized Syria and Palestine. He dethroned Jehoahaz and took him along as a prisoner to Egypt. He established his brother Jehoiakim as king in his place, imposing a tribute on Judaea (2 Kings 23,31-35 and 2 Chronicles 36,1-4). Jeremiah refers bitterly to Jehoahaz’ exile to Egypt: “Do not weep for the man who is dead (king Josiah)… Weep bitterly for the man (Jehoahaz) who has gone away (to Egypt), since he will never come back, never see his native land again… but will die in the place to which he has been taken captive…” (Jeremiah 22,10-12)

3. Jehoiakim 609-598 BC
Jehoiakim, in his fourth year of reign (605 BC), therefore 4 years after Meggido, noticing Nebuchadnezzar’s strength, subjected himself to him (Jeremiah 36,1; see the note in the Jerusalem Bible). He felt secure, safe from the wrath of the Pharaoh. Jehoiakim, happy to feel secure, wanted to kill Jeremiah after hearing him predict the curse against his country. He tore the scroll that Jeremiah asked Baruch to write. He gave order to arrest both of them. But Jeremiah was protected by Ahikam son of Shaphan (Jeremiah 26 and 36). Shaphan was close to the royal court, under Josiah, and had helped the king with the reforms (2 Kings 22,3-12). As Jeremiah was of a sacerdotal family, Shaphan knew him well, and so helped the prophet (Jeremiah 26,24). Shaphan is also the grandfather of Gedaliah, son of Ahikam (2 Kings 25,22), who also helped Jeremiah (Jeremiah 40,5-6). (Shaphan, father of Ahikam, father of Gedaliah, are all Jeremiah’s friends and protectors).

4. Jehoiachin 598 BC
First deportation: the king along with all his royal court and all persons of good condition (2 Kings 24,15). Nebuchadnezzar establishes as king in his place, Zedekiah, his uncle (2 Kings 24,17 and 2 Chronicles 36,9-10).

5. Zedekiah 598-586 BC
Zedekiah revolted against Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24,20). The latter thus invaded Jerusalem (2 Kings 25,2). Wanting to escape, Nebuchadnezzar arrests, deports and judges him. The Babylonians entered Jerusalem destroying the Temple and deported the rest of the Judaeans, leaving the peasants to cultivate the land. They established Gedaliah as governor (2 Kings 25 and 2 Chronicles 36,11-21).

Baruch

The Book of Baruch is absent in the Hebraic Bible. It was written by Baruch in Babylon after the deportation: “These are the words of the book written in Babylon by Baruch” (Baruch 1,1). The exiled assemblies read it “to Jeconiah… king of Judah (exiled), and to all the people who had come to hear the reading, to the nobles… to all who lived in Babylon” (Baruch 1,3-4). We notice in this book the great impression that Jeremiah’s message had made; an impression that lasted a very long time in the Jewish conscience (2 Maccabees 2,1-7 & 15,14 / Matthew 16,14). Baruch himself had no interest but to repeat and remind of the fiery words of his professor, words rejected by the Jews: “You have sent down your anger and your fury on us, as you promised through your servants the prophets when they said… ‘Bend your necks and submit to the king of Babylon…’ But we did not listen to your voice and submit to the king of Babylon” (Baruch 2,20-24).

Baruch reminds us of the New Covenant predicted by Jeremiah to encourage the exiled: “But in the country of their exile they will take all this to heart and acknowledge that I am the Lord their God… Then I will bring them back to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… And I will make an everlasting covenant with them… And will never again drive my people Israel out of the land that I have given them” (Baruch 2,30-35). This “land” is Eternal Life, a heavenly and not geographical entity.

The Everlasting Covenant in question is the one already proclaimed by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31,31) and fulfilled by Jesus. Notice that Baruch had already grasped the internal spiritual dimension of this covenant: “They will take all this to heart“. But he still believed in the promised land as a geographical reality, “the land promised to Abraham…” and predicted the return to this land (Palestine) prophesying that God “will never again drive his people Israel out of the land given to them” (Baruch 2,35). Now, the Jews were once again exiled by Titus in the 70 AD and were scattered all over the world. It is clear then, that God’s intention is aimed at a psychological and spiritual stability, non-geographic, that takes place in the souls of believers, “inside them”.

Baruch considers the Jews as “the widow‘s cherished sons” (Baruch 4,16), because Israel, punished by God, is compared to a sad and abandoned widow. This topic of “the widow” is often evoked in esoteric assemblies (Freemasonry, Rosicrucian brotherhood), and refers to Israel.

Retain the expression “put on sackcloth” (Baruch 4,20) which means to be in mourning because of tragic situations. You will see it again in the Book of Revelation regarding the two witnesses of God persecuted by the Beast’s men (Revelation 11,3).

Baruch ends his book on an optimistic tone in reminding us of the return from exile: “Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress… see your sons reassembled from west and east…” (Baruch 5,1-9). The book closes with the reproduction of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles.

Thus, Baruch is a revision of Jeremiah, a testimony in his favor.

Ezekiel

The prophet Ezekiel is a priest exiled since the first Judaean deportation to Babylon (2 Kings 24,10-17): “It was the fifth year of exile for king Jehoiachin (593-592 BC), the word of Yahweh was addressed to the priest Ezekiel son of Buzi in Chaldaea” (Ezekiel 1,1-3). The Temple of Solomon had not yet been destroyed when his mission began. Ezekiel is thus a contemporary of Jeremiah. In exile, Ezekiel had visions concerning the second deportation and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, which occurred a few years later (in 586 BC). God asked him to prophesy against the unsubdued Israelites, to announce against them this punishment: “Mountains of Israel… I am going to summon the sword against you… your inhabitants are going to be cut to pieces…” (Ezekiel 6,1-7), but while keeping a remnant to pursue the divine Messianic plan: “But I shall spare some of you; they will escape the sword… Your survivors will remember me” (Ezekiel 6,8-10).

Ezekiel’s most important visions and prophecies are:
(Read them progressively after my explanations)

The end of Israel

Notice that Ezekiel prophesied “the end” of Israel: “The Lord Yahweh says this to the land of Israel: Finished! The end is coming for the four quarters of the land… The end is coming, the end is coming for you… I mean to show you neither pity nor mercy…” says the Lord (Ezekiel 7,1-9).

With Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, it was the first end of Israel. Jesus too, had spoken of the “end” of Israel (Matthew 24,3-14). This took place in 70 AD, when Titus burnt the second Temple. Most of the Israelis had escaped in diaspora. That was Israel’s second end. During the apocalyptic times we live in now, Israel will know a third and ultimate end (Matthew 24,14). This “Beast” of chapter 13 of the Apocalypse is “never to be seen again” (Revelation 18,21).

It is this third and last end of Israel that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels:
“This good news of the Kingdom will be proclaimed to the whole world… And then the end will come.” (Matthew 24,14)

The Gospel is already proclaimed to the whole world. The end of ends of Israel is very near.

Vision of the 4 living animals (Ezekiel 1,4-28)

“I looked; a stormy wind blew from the north… In the center I saw what seemed four animals (Ezekiel 1,4-5). Each had four faces, each had four wings… Human hands showed under their wings (Ezekiel 1,6-8) … they had human faces, and all four had a lion’s… a bull’s… an eagle’s… (Ezekiel 1,10). Above the vault over their heads was… a throne and high up on this throne was a being that looked like a man… It was something that looked like the glory of Yahweh.” (Ezekiel 1,26-28)

This grand vision, like all the messianic prophecies, was misunderstood in its time. It is a prophecy on the four Gospels which present the Messiah, Jesus. God announces the Babylonian punishment that befalls the North of Israel like a stormy wind. Because God’s judgement hits, unexpectedly, like a storm. “Stay awake and pray so to not be taken by surprise”, like the wise virgins, recommends Jesus (Matthew 24,42 / 25,1-13). In this same vision, God reveals his plan of salvation in Jesus for the whole of humanity: the 4 animals represent the 4 Evangelists. Their wings are symbol of their spiritual elevation; the hands under the wings indicate that they are writers, having written the 4 Gospels with their hands. The “vault” is Heaven; the “Throne” is God’s Seat to judge men through the Gospels. At the highest of the Throne is the Messiah, who is both man and God, “a being that looked like a man“, and “something that looked like the glory of Yahweh“.

We are able to understand today that, in this vision, the Messiah was announced by God as being his own human incarnation, God Himself to be that Messiah who will incarnate to save believers and judge the unbelievers: “The Word became flesh” says John in his Gospel, “we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father” (John 1,1-14). We are able to understand today, after the incarnation of the Messiah-God, that this divine glory seen by Ezekiel was in Jesus of Nazareth in its plenitude.

The four animals have “a human form. Each had four faces; each had four wings… They touched one another with their wings”. The human form indicates that they are men. Their faces are turned towards the four directions, because their Message is intended for the four corners of the earth. Their wings touch one another because they are united by the same Message, that of the Messiah.

“And they all went straight forward; they went where the spirit urged them; they did not turn as they moved” (Ezekiel 1,12), because they are driven by the same spirit, the Spirit of God that is straight. They deliver their Message as “the sower who went out to sow” (Matthew 13,4), without looking behind. “They do not turn as they move”, insists Ezekiel, because “once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9,62)

“Between these animals something could be seen like flaming brands or torches” (Ezekiel 1,13). These flaming brands or torches are the hearts of the Apostles and believers who, like flaming brands, are burning of love for God and his Messiah and who, like torches, light up this darkened world by their flame.

“The fire flashed light, and lightning streaked from the fire. And the creatures ran to and fro like thunderbolts.” (Ezekiel 1,13-14) Jesus said: “The coming of the Son of Man will be like lightning striking in east and flashing far into the west.” (Matthew 24,27)

The Gospels, as well as the Message of the Book of Revelation are widespread throughout the whole world, via the internet. It spreads in a blink of an eye, like a flash of lightning which parts from East to West. And this, by the Apostles of the End of Times, small flaming brands with burning hearts of love for the Messiah and his holy Mother.

In his Book of Revelation, John sees, he too, these 4 Animals, always “in the center, grouped around the throne itself” (Revelation 4,6), because, being on the Throne, they take part in Judgement through their Gospels. “Those who prove victorious I will allow to share my throne, just as I was victorious myself and took my place with my Father on his throne”, says Jesus (Revelation 3,21). Had he not said to his Apostles: “When the Son of man is seated in his throne of glory, you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel”? (Matthew 19,28)
Just as Ezekiel announces through this vision the first Advent of the Messiah, so too, does John’s Revelation announce his second Advent at the end of times, after the ultimate end of the contemporary State of Israel.

Vision of the eaten scroll (Ezekiel 3,1-15)

Eat this scroll… I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey. He then said, ‘Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said… Do not be afraid of them… for they are a set of rebels… whether they listen or not’.”

Ezekiel is invited “to eat” the book of his prophecy ie to assume his mission against the Israelites: “You are not being sent to a nation that speaks a difficult foreign language; you are being sent to the House of Israel. Not to big nations“, says God to his prophet (Ezekiel 3,5-6). Ezekiel’s mission -at his time- was limited to the “House of Israel”, it was thus specific and did not extend to “big nations”.

The Book of Revelation brings back this image of the “eaten” scroll. At the end of times, when Israel reappears, God’s prophets are “once again” invited “to eat a scroll” and to witness, not only against Israel again, as was Ezekiel’s case, but also against “many different nations and countries and languages and emperors” who support it in its injustice: “Take that open scroll… eat it…’ I swallowed it (the book); it was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach turned sour. Then I was told: ‘You are to prophesy again, this time about many different nations and countries and languages and emperors’.” (Revelation 10,8-11) To note the sourness of the Book of Revelation’s prophesy, non-existent in Ezekiel’s, being more painful because it is universal, running up against more obstacles: Ezekiel’s prophecy was addressed only to the Jews to inform them of Christ’s first Advent. Now the Book of Revelation, harder to carry, is addressed to people from the whole world to warn them and prepare them for the Return of Jesus at the time of his second coming, which is near at hand: “It is he who is coming… everyone will see him, even those who pierced him (the Jews), and all the races of the earth will mourn over him” (Revelation 1,7).

The New Covenant (Ezekiel 11,18-20 & 36,25-27)

Here too, the prophecy of the New Covenant insists on the heart and spirit, not on the possession of a geographical land: “I will give them a single heart and I will put a new spirit in them“. It is the Holy Spirit that Jesus speaks of (Luke 11,13), which his true subjects receive (John 14,15-26 / 16,7-15).

Widowhood and mourning of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 24,15-27)

God announces to Ezekiel the death of his wife, “the delight of his eyes” (Ezekiel 24,16), asking him not to carry on mourning: “But you are not to lament… Groan in silence, do not go into mourning for the dead…” (Ezekiel 24,16-17)

This mourning was meant to symbolize the destruction of the Temple, which was to the Israelites “the delight of their eyes” (Ezekiel 24,21). Only after the Temple’s destruction did Ezekiel’s mission start; with the accomplishment of his prophecy, he would be better heard. Then God allowed him to speak and untied his tongue: “You will no longer be dumb” (Ezekiel 24,27), after having reduced him to silence because of the Jews’ impiety: “you will be dumb; you will stop warning them, for they are a set of rebels.” (Ezekiel 3,26)

The Revelation’s prophecy has known, it too, a long period of silence: “Keep the words of the seven thunders secret and do not write them down” (Revelation 10,4). This period -which has lasted for 20 centuries- was followed by the time of the message’s frank and open proclamation: “Do not keep the prophecies in this book a secret, because the Time (of Christ Return) is close” (Revelation 22,10). In the Book of Revelation, the period of silence was due to the fact that the apocalyptic prophecies were not yet accomplished to be understood.

The Resurrection (Ezekiel 37,1-28)

Ezekiel sees in vision “dried bones”, taking a body again and returning to life: “I am now going to open your graves; I mean to raise you from your graves, my people, and lead you back to the soil of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37,12) This resurrection is interpreted, by some, as the return to life of the current Israeli State. It is wrong. This State will be destroyed forever.

The resurrection in question is that of the soul, of its return to spiritual life which Jesus spoke of (John 5,24-27). It is reserved to his faithful disciples. This is what the Book of Revelation calls “the First Resurrection” (Revelation 20,6). It differs from the final resurrection at the end of times, called the “Second Resurrection”, when the body will resurrect, it too, renewed (John 5,28-29).

Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39)

These names symbolize the pagans of the time. The chosen, the “people of God”, will triumph over them. The Book of Revelation explains to us that Gog and Magog, in the 20th century are no other than the Israelis “who came swarming over the entire country (Palestine)” (Revelation 20,7-9). The Book of Revelation emits a divine light that helps us to well-interpret God’s intention in Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Vision of the rebuilt Temple (Ezekiel 40-48)

About fifteen years after the Temple’s ruin, “in the 25th year of our captivity” (Ezekiel 40,1), Ezekiel had a vision of its reconstruction. He sees “a man who seemed to be made of bronze. He had a flax cord and a measuring rod in his hand (to measure the Temple) … He measured the thickness of this construction, etc…” (Ezekiel 40,3-5)

This is, of course, the spiritual Temple since God tells Ezekiel: “No alien, uncircumcised in heart, to frequent my sanctuary” (the scribes readily add: “and uncircumcised body) (Ezekiel 44,6-9). The Book of Revelation also speaks of the construction of the spiritual Temple at the end of times, a measured Temple, it too, to admit save true believers (Revelation 11,1). This eternal Temple is none other than God and Jesus-Christ (Revelation 21,22), “Nothing unclean may come into it: no one who does what is loathsome or false” (Revelation 21,27). This is the true dimension of the Temple of God that the Israelites could not understand.

Ezekiel’s new Temple is that described in the Book of Revelation. It is spiritual. Compare “the water” of life that exits from the Temple’s sanctuary seen by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47,12), with the “River of life” of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 22,1-2). The Temple seen by Ezekiel is spiritual, this is a simple deduction owing to the fact that its measurements and its form do not correspond to the Temple built by Ezra after the return from exile. No river of life came out of that Temple’s sanctuary.

Daniel

Daniel was taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar probably during the first deportation of Judah (2 Kings 24). He belonged to the Jewish nobility: “the king ordered to select from the Israelites a certain number of boys of either royal or noble descent… suitable for service in the palace of the king… Among them were Daniel… who were Judaeans.” (Daniel 1,3-6) The prophet was thus but a young child when he left Palestine. “Daniel remained there (in exile) until the first year of king Cyrus.” (Daniel 1,21)

Daniel became important in the court after having been the only one to reveal to the king his dream and its interpretation (like Joseph with Pharaoh). Read chapter 2 then resume this course.

The statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar represents 4 empires that follow each other historically: Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Greek, and Roman. It was during the fourth of these empires -the Roman- that the Messiah was announced, He is that “stone which broke away, untouched by any hand, and struck the statue… And then, iron and earthenware, bronze, silver, gold, all broke into small pieces… The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole earth.” (Daniel 2,34) The 4 empires are explained by Daniel (Daniel 2,36-43). “In the time of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom (that of Christ, whose Kingdom is not of this world: John 18,36) which will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2,44). Jesus came -in the time of these kings- under the Roman empire. His Kingdom still exists and will exist forever in the hearts of his faithful.

The Roman Empire has passed; what are some Jews still waiting for to understand?!


The statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar and the 4 empires

Apart from Nebuchadnezzar’s visions, Daniel had some himself to warn him of the historical evolutions concerning the 4 empires. You will notice that all these visions troubled and fatigued the prophet (Daniel 7,28 / 8,27). The divine messages are often a heavy burden to carry.

Here are Daniel’s principal visions:

Chapter 7: Vision of the 4 “Beasts”

The four “Beasts” represent the 4 pagan empires which precede the arrival of Christ. This vision is similar to that of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue (Daniel 2). Under the fourth empire the Messiah will come: it is He, “the One of great age (because His origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of eternity: Micah 5,2) who took His seat on the Throne” to judge (Daniel 7,9). The judgment is announced by the fact that “the books were opened.” (Daniel 7,10) This expression is mentioned again in the book of Revelation (Revelation 10,2 / 20,12). These open books are those of the Old Testament. They are “open” to demonstrate, through the prophecies therein, that Jesus is truly the Messiah.

Thus, those who do not recognize that Jesus is the Messiah are staggered and condemned by the prophecies that had announced of Him (see Luke 24,25-27 / Acts 17,2-11 / Acts 18,28). Isaiah reprimands those who do not understand the prophetical visions, saying that these are for them like “a closed (or sealed) book” (Isaiah 29,11).

These 4 pagan “Beasts” are found again in the Book of Revelation under the form of the “four horsemen” (Revelation 6,1-8). They combine together into one “Beast”, which represents them all (Revelation 13). This Beast of Revelation which appears at the end of times, differs from those seen by Daniel: it symbolizes neo-paganism, which appears with force as one nation, militarily and universally powerful, and whose center is Palestine, and its coveted capital: Jerusalem (Revelation 13 and Revelation 20,7-9). It is Israel.

Chapter 8: Vision of the “Goat of the West”

Vision of the “Goat from the West” (Alexander the Great: “the king of Javan”, Daniel 8,5 & 21), who triumphs over the Persian Empire, the “Ram” (Daniel 8,6 & 20). After his multiple victories, Alexander died at the ripe age of 33: “Then the he-goat grew more powerful than ever, but at the height of its strength the great horn snapped, and in its place sprouted four majestic horns…” They are the 4 generals of Alexander who divided his empire between them (Daniel 8,8). Antiochus Epiphanes, whom you have known from reading Maccabees (1 Maccabees 1,10-44), succeeded one of these 4 generals and governed the region of Palestine. His policy of Hellenization provoked the revolt of Maccabees (in 167 BC: 1 Maccabees 2). He is symbolized by the “horn which grew to great size toward south and east and toward the Land of Splendor” (Palestine). This “Horn” soiled the Temple of Jerusalem by “putting iniquity (statue of Zeus) on the sacrifice and flung truth to the ground” (Daniel 8,9-12).

Notice that Daniel did not understand the vision (Daniel 8,27). We must remember this prophetic principle, already mentioned: a prophecy concerning a historical event is only understood after the fulfillment of the predicted event. So, “open” up to the Prophetic Books that predicted it. These books remain “closed” (or sealed) for those who refuse to admit the historical accomplishment of the prophecy. They will remain blind forever, their eyes closed to the divine truths.

Chapter 9: End of the 70 years of deportation

Daniel “was studying the Scriptures” (Jeremiah’s) and prayed to God to know “the number of years -as revealed by Yahweh to the prophet Jeremiah- that were to pass before the successive devastations of Jerusalem would come to an end, namely seventy years” (Daniel 9,2). God seized the occasion rather, to reveal to him his plan of salvation in sending the “Anointed Prince” (Jesus), who will be suppressed 69 weeks after the reconstruction of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9,25-26). God invites Daniel not to limit himself to the 70 years of Jeremiah, but to look well ahead instead, and have a global vision: the 70 years are 70 “weeks” of years, so 70×7=490 years, approximate time of the coming of Jesus.

These “70 weeks of years” are divided into 3 periods: 62-7-1. “After the 62 weeks, an Anointed One will be cut off (He was, indeed, rejected and crucified) and… (the political Zionist throne of David) will not be for Him”, because His reign is spiritual. Therefore, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple will again be “destroyed by a prince who will come.” (Daniel 9,26) This prophecy was fulfilled by Titus when he destroyed the sanctuary a second time in the year 70 AD. Such a prophecy announcing the second destruction of the Temple, was not likely to comfort Daniel.

The period of time between Daniel and the “Anointed Prince” is 62+7= 69 weeks of years (symbolic). The last week of years concerns the period of the Advent of the Messiah. The last half-week, which is 3 days and half, represents the apocalyptical times in which we live. They are known as the end of times, when we will see “the disastrous abomination” in Jerusalem (Daniel 9,27 / Matthew 24,15). This abomination is none other than the Zionist Antichrist in Jerusalem today: the enemy of Christ in the Holy Land, with its never-ending crimes and destruction. The “70 weeks of years” will last “until the end, until the doom assigned to the devastator (Israel).” (Daniel 9,27) Or still, according to Jesus’ words: “Jerusalem will be trampled down by the pagans (the Zionists who reject Him) until the age of the pagans is completely over (the State of Israel).” (Luke 21,24)


Daniel 9,20-27

Chapter 12: Vision of the end times

This last vision concerns the apocalyptic period which immediately precedes the end times. “That is going to be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence” (Daniel 12,1) … “nor ever will be again”, Jesus confirmed later (Matthew 24,21). This period is a sign of the end of times, a sign given so the wise prepare themselves for the Final Judgment, when “those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace.” (Daniel 12,2)
This vision is similar to the apocalyptic visions of John. It reveals a symbolic number of days (1290 & 1335 days: Daniel 12,11-12), a complementary number revealed to John (1260: Revelation 11,3 & 12,6). A comparison between the two texts will be indispensable in order to understand.

Nevertheless, it is only after the achievement of the apocalyptic events (the fall of Israel and the 3rd world war) that these numbers “will be opened” to our intelligence and their symbolism become clear. It is the reason why Daniel “listened but did not understand.” (Daniel 12,8) These events will last “a time and two times, and half a time”, three times (or periods) and a half (Daniel 12,7). They are the “three and a half times” and the “three and a half days” of Revelation 11,8-11. They correspond to the half-week of Daniel 9,27. No one can understand that prophecy before “all these things are going to happen when he who crushes the power of the holy peoples meets his end.” (Daniel 12,7) It is about the destruction of the Israeli Antichrist which has seduced and weakened the believers. “Daniel, go away: these words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the End.” (Daniel 12,9) It is with the explanation of the Book of Revelation that all these prophecies will be clarified.

The Hebraic Bible ends with the Book of Daniel at chapter 12. Chapters 13 and 14 are only found in the Greek Bible. They reveal Daniel’s wisdom. They are easy to understand.

The synthesis

Here is a concise text to better understand Daniel’s prophecies. I propose to read the first 12 chapters of his book, and particularly chapters 1 / 2 / 3,1-23 / 4 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 12. The key to understand these prophecies is to realize that they aim to the time of the future Advent of the Messiah, impatiently awaited for by the Jews of the past.

Jesus, on several occasions (more than 40 times in the Gospels), had said that He was the “Son of Man” (Matthew 8,20 / 12,40 / 24,30… Mark 9,12 / 13,29 / Luke 12,8 / 18,8 / 21,36 / John 1,51 / 6,27 / 9,35 / Acts 7,56). The Jews did not understand and asked him: “Who is this Son of man?” (John 12,34). Jesus referred to Daniel’s vision (7,13-14) which announced the Advent of the Messiah “coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a Son of Man… His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty…” Notice that by his coming “a court was held and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7,10) It is about the Prophetic Books to open, to consult, to demonstrate through the Holy Scriptures that Jesus is indeed the Messiah announced by the prophets (Acts 17,2 / 17,11). This expression is found again in Revelation 20,12 regarding the Second Advent of Jesus to show, always by the open Holy Scriptures -and especially the Book of Revelation, this “other open Book”- that the Messiah, who came 2000 years ago, is already in return, spiritually.

To understand Daniel’s prophecies, we should take into account that everything, in his book, is centered on the Advent of the Messiah. This is the core of this book. All the other prophecies have a historical context and concern the empires preceding the Advent of the Messiah, those which followed one after the other during and after Daniel: Babylonian, Medes, Persian, Greek, then Roman. It is under this last empire, the Roman empire, that the Book of Daniel announces the Advent of this “Son of Man” (Daniel 7,13-14), this “Anointed One… cut off” (Daniel 9,26), that “stone which broke away from the mountain, untouched by any hand” (Daniel 2,34), that “cornerstone” mentioned by Jesus (Matthew 21,42) which has pummeled the human empires into dust and whose spiritual kingdom will last forever (Daniel 2,29-45).

Daniel’s anguish was due to the Babylonian exile and the destruction of the temple. Jeremiah had predicted that this exile would last for 70 years (Jeremiah 25,11-12 and Jeremiah 29,10). And yet, this period was exceeded. Daniel was not seeing the end of Israel’s misfortunes. Because there were two exodus: the first one in 597 BC, followed by a second in 587 BC. After Cyrus’ edict in 538 BC, there was a shy return from exile. Around 515 BC, there was an attempt to construct the temple, but followed by an interruption that lasted “until the second year of the reign of Darius”, because of the opposition of the Samaritans (Ezra 4,24). Thus, we understand Daniel’s anxiety, impatient in seeing the Temple rebuilt: “In the first year of Darius’ reign, I, Daniel, was perusing the Scriptures, counting over the number of years—as revealed by Yahweh to the prophet Jeremiah—that were to pass before the successive devastations of Jerusalem would come to an end, namely 70 years.” (Daniel 9,1-2) So then, in the fist year of Darius, the 70 years had passed but the Temple was not yet rebuilt according to Daniel’s and all Jews’ expectations.

Thus, the important point to grasp is that Daniel languished to see the Temple standing and the expected Messiah as an almighty emperor to establish -finally- the Israeli empire on the world. As is the case of the Zionist Israelis nowadays.

This prophet decided then, to do penance by fasting and acknowledgement, pleading in a well-structured manner, the multiple faults of his people, begging the Creator to forgive and rebuild the temple, not for the merits of the sinning Israeli people, but for his own divine honor (Daniel 9,3-19). He seeks to convince Him that His own divine reputation is at stake: “Lord, let your face smile again on your desolate sanctuary… We are not relying on our own good works but on your great mercy, to command our humble plea to you. Listen, Lord! … because they bear bear your name, this is your city (Jerusalem), this is your people.” (Daniel 9,17-19)

Before this human insistence of good faith, an insistence due to the ignorance and the incomprehension of the divine plan by that “man of predilection” (Daniel 10,11), Heaven answers Daniel’s call -all of a sudden and with ardor- to interrupt this litany of vain words: “I was still speaking… when Gabriel… flew suddenly down to me…” (Daniel 9,20) Gabriel’s brutal interruption reminds us of Jesus’ teaching: “In your prayers do not babble… your Father knows what you need…” (Matthew 6,7) Daniel needed this angelical intervention to put an end to this avalanche of useless words. Because, “I was still speaking…”, he acknowledges (Daniel 9,20).

Gabriel tells him: “Grasp the meaning of the word, understand the vision: ‘Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city, for putting an end to transgression, for placing the seals on sin, for expiating crime, for introducing everlasting integrity, for setting the seal on vision and on prophecy, for anointing the Holy of Holies. Know this, then, and understand… and on the wing of the Temple will be the disastrous abomination until the end, until the doom assigned to the devastator.’” (Daniel 9,23-27)

Daniel understood nothing of this vision despite Gabriel telling him: “Grasp the meaning of the word, understand the vision”. The prophet was in a hurry to see the achievement of the events announced by Jeremiah on the ground, after 70 years of exile. And yet, Heaven comes to announce that 70 weeks are assigned, namely 70 weeks of years, that is to say 70 x 7 = 490 years, still to pass before the historical achievement of the prophecies, and that, not for the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem according to Daniel’s expectations, but “for anointing the Holy of Holies”, namely the Messiah who, He, is the real Temple in the divine conception. Thus, the Temple of Jerusalem loses its importance. It is Jesus who clarified that prophecy in announcing, at the time of his Advent, approximately 490 years later (70 weeks of years after Daniel): “Destroy this sanctuary (temple), and in three days I will raise it up… But He was speaking of the sanctuary that was His body” (John 2,18-22). Later on still, after Jesus’ Resurrection, the Apostles understood that the Temple of God resides in every soul, disciple of Jesus (1 Corinthians 3,16-17). John’s Revelation reveals it even better: any material religious building -temple, church, mosque, pagoda, etc- becomes obsolete, because in the Heavenly Jerusalem, no temple or building of this sort is found (Revelation 21,22). Daniel was very far from this divine conception, he was overwhelmed, confused by this worship in spirit. We thus understand his exhausted state of mind (Daniel 8,27 / 10,9-10).

It is through the Spirit of Jesus that we are able to understand the prophecies according to God’s intention. Daniel could therefore not yet grasp them. John the Baptist himself, who came 5 centuries later, he the forerunner of the Messiah, had not yet understood them. According to Jesus’ testimony, “a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater that he is.” (Matthew 11,11) Because John the Baptist, he too, like Daniel, expected a theocratic Israeli kingdom. Now, “the least in the Kingdom of Heaven” has better grasped the spiritual and internal dimension of the Divine Kingdom, and of its eternal empire. The psychological upheaval in Daniel, even unconsciously, resulted in him “losing consciousness and was ill for several days.” (Daniel 8,27)

Daniel’s visions are not limited to Jesus’ first Advent; they extend in time up till His Return in the Apocalyptic times: “A time of great distress, unparalleled since nations came into existence” (Daniel 12,1). Jesus brings back this prophecy in Mathew 24,21 and refers to “the disastrous abomination” of which the prophet Daniel spoke (Matthew 24,15). Jesus, through his first and second comings, “opens the books”, namely the Prophetic Books which announce his Advent and his Return for judgment (Daniel 7,10 and Revelation 20,12). Thus, all Daniel’s prophecies are accomplished by these two Advents. We await the “doom assigned to the devastator” (Daniel 9,27): namely the fall of the Beast. Then we will understand how little we have left to understand the prophecies.

To remember: the Book of Daniel mainly aims at the two Advents of Jesus who, by his return, will explain Daniel’s words destined to remain “sealed until the time of the end” (Daniel 12,4). It is here!

Supplement

A reflection on Daniel in the past and us today, the Romans with the Israelis in the past and the USA with them today:

Daniel 2 depicts Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of “this statue, its head was of fine gold… its feet part iron, part earthenware.” This means that, “the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in the seed of man; but they will not hold together any more than iron will blend with earthenware.” (Daniel 2,43) This fragile human seed, in God’s intention, occurring 3 centuries after Daniel, designated a fragile alliance between the Romans and the Israelis of that time as revealed in the First Book of Maccabees 8,17 etc… This alliance “in the seed of man”, ie between the Romans and Israelis, could only be fragile. Such a human mixture is as friable as the impossible amalgam between iron and clay. The Romans, at that time, had the reputation of being invincible, a reputation that the United States has today (1 Maccabees 8,1-14 and especially verses 11-13). The unconditional Roman support to the Jews is seen in the letter revealed in 1 Maccabees 15,15-24. Under the Roman Empire, Israel thus already existed as a State. It is therefore not wrong to say that this “Beast you have seen once was and now is not” (Revelation 17,8), was supported by the Romans. All this prepared the Advent of the One whose “Kingdom shall never be destroyed… and itself last forever” (Daniel 2,44), being in the souls. In fact, it was under the Roman Empire that our Holy Savior came. Despite Roman support to the Israelis in the past, it was indeed the Romans who destroyed the Israeli kingdom by Titus in the year 70. Thus appeared the fragility of the alliance.

Today, “again”, Israel, the First Apocalyptic Beast, has obtained the protection of the almighty American State, the Second Apocalyptic Beast. This also prepared, and prepares still, the coming of the One whose “Kingdom will last forever…” But today, it is about his Second Coming, his Return, always in the soul. Those who sleep not and remain faithful until the end, remaining awake with the weapon of discernment, “will open to Him as soon as He knocks the door of the heart” (Luke 12,35-36 / 24,33 / Revelation 3,20).


Historical context of Daniel’s prophecies