This lesson is a distillation and video illustration of parts of the second audio-only Daniel lesson. Click here:

How did they get to the point where the people of God are now a captive nation of a godless, heathen country? I think that’s probably a topic that’s pretty relevant for us in the United States today, don’t you think? To think of Daniel and his friends living through a foreign power coming in and dominating them, taking them captive and making their nation a vassal, and because over and over again, the prophets called on the people to repent, to turn back to God, to turn back to His Word, and they refused. In fact, not only did they not repent, but they also hardened their hearts even more. They became even more corrupt, even more degenerate until, ultimately, after about 120 years of being warned, and this is just by the prophets immediately relating to their situation, you can go all the way back to the book of Deuteronomy, Moses told them this was going to happen. “If you fail to obey me, He said, “I’m setting before you … blessing and cursing…”

Quick Historical Review

In 721 B.C., Assyria came in and took over the Northern Kingdom and led 80% of the people captive. This lays a foundation for us to understand why the Jews hated the Samaritans, because what happened when they removed 80% of the population? They flooded/filled in that 80% with Assyrians. The Assyrians married the remaining people of the Northern Kingdom. And the product that resulted was, of course, the Samaritans. They were considered a mongrel race. So, try to keep this timeline in mind. 721 B.C. Northern Kingdom goes captive.

In 701 B.C., the armies of Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem; God miraculously delivered the city due to the prayers of Hezekiah and the prophecy of Isaiah. You can look that up in 2 Kings 18 and 19. And what happened? The Angel of Jehovah, which is the pre incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, went forth and struck the army of the Assyrians and basically destroyed them. And so, the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled. Unfortunately, due to the foolishness of Hezekiah and showing the wealth of his treasury to an envoy from Babylon, Isaiah then first prophesied the coming captivity of Judah; that prophecy is in 2 Kings 20:12–21. This would have been in 698 B.C. So, we’ve come now about 23 years from the fall of the Northern Kingdom and now the prophecy of the fall of the Southern Kingdom. Then we examine the prophecies of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah prophesied the fall of Jerusalem in 627 B.C. It’s in Jeremiah, chapters two through six. He warned the nation for 40 years: “If you don’t turn back, if you don’t turn to God, if you don’t stop your evil ways, if you don’t deal with the rampant evil, corruption, and degeneracy in the nation, God is going to destroy the nation.” How long ago was 40 years ago? Billy Graham said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Think of where we were 40 years ago—back in the eighties. Weren’t things horrible in the eighties? I thought in the seventies we were going into military defeat. I thought the Russians were going to take us over in the seventies—50 years ago. Look where we are today. Look how patient God has been and look how many (times), over and over He warned and warned and warned America. People laugh and people scoff. You and I today are in the final generation that’s going to see the wrath of God poured out on this nation. And by saying that, don’t think that I discount that God could yet deliver us. There is no question in my mind that if enough people, if enough believers get on their knees, if enough Christians pray for this country, if enough people have an impact on their friends, family, and neighbors, enough people turn to Christ, there is no question in my mind that God can yet deliver this nation. But barring that happening, we’re looking at a grim future. Don’t get discouraged by that. Just look at Daniel and his friends. Life was better for them in Babylon than it was in Judah. God has a plan. God knows how to take care of his own, and we’ll deal with that in just a moment.

Finally, we know that Daniel and his friends were taken captive in 605 B.C. There were three deportations. The second deportation, about 586 B.C., was Ezekiel. And finally, of course, the nation was ultimately destroyed in the third deportation. I mentioned here in point five the death of the good king Josiah. You remember him. This is all related. This is what Israel would do and Judah would do. They had the Assyrians on the north, the Egyptians on the south—both powerful nations. So, when they wanted help from the Egyptians, they’d run to the Assyrians. When they wanted help from the Assyrians, they run to the Egyptians. Finally, there was the buildup of a big battle called the Battle of Carchemish, and Pharaoh Neco was coming up from Egypt to meet Nebuchadnezzar at the Battle of Carchemish. Josiah (in my opinion) foolishly went out to fight against Pharaoh Neco.

Pharaoh told him, “I’m not here to attack you. I’m not going to attack your people. I’m coming to fight the Assyrians.” Josiah should have just stood back, but he didn’t do it. He entered the battle and, of course, he was killed in that battle. That was the battle of Megiddo in 609 B.C. At the Battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C., Egypt, allied with her old nemesis Assyria, was fighting against the brilliant upstart, Commander Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar at this point was the Crown Prince. He was absolutely a brilliant military commander, a brilliant leader, a brilliant tactician, a brilliant builder. Just so many things about him that we learn from history. The Assyrian coalition was defeated so badly that Assyria ceased to exist. You know, you can go all over the world, you can find descendants from various races, but you can’t find an Assyrian. They’re gone. They were annihilated.

After the Battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem and Daniel and 50 to 70 captives of the royal family were taken. And then, of course, Daniel’s story begins in the book of Daniel.

If you turn with me to the Book of Ezekiel, we’re going to see a lot of interplay between these various books. Ezekiel wrote Ezekiel 14 before he was taken captive. He’s teaching Bible class in Jerusalem. The elders come to him, and he gives them a prophecy of the fall of Judah. The part that I want us to see is in verse 14 and verse 20. “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, that is in the city of Jerusalem, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Why is that important? Daniel is a young man. He’s a slave in Babylon. His reputation has already traveled all the way back over 500 miles of desert to Jerusalem, and the Prophet Ezekiel names him by name on a par with the great Noah and Job. How spiritually great must Daniel have been? Look down to verse 19. “If I send the pestilence into the land to pour out my fury on it in blood, and cut off from it man, and beast, even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness. It is important for us to read this for a couple of reasons. First, to realize that Daniel had already made an impact in history as a young man. He had made an impact on history. Secondly, notice what God says: Why would Daniel be delivered even if God brought armies against the nation, even if he brought pestilence and plague against the nation? Why would he or Job or Noah deliver themselves? They would deliver themselves by their righteousness. And that should be a challenge to you and I. What will happen to us in the days ahead is determined by the decisions that we make today.

Turn to Leviticus 26. I mentioned earlier that Moses warned the children of Israel what was going to happen back 1400–1500 years before Christ and a thousand years later, what he told them would happen is happening. Verse 14, “If you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I will do this to you: …” This is the beginning of five cycles of discipline, and I’ll give you the verses. You can read through them. I’m not going to go through the whole thing. Let’s put it in terms that we understand: that the path from the cross to the cross, is the plan of God for us: to go from faith in Christ to a faithful life to eternal reward. That’s His will. We say, “No, I think I’m going to take a detour. I’m going to go this way.” And immediately what happens is things start going bad and we start going into increasing cycles of discipline. It happens to us just like it happened in Israel. But here we’re talking about the judgment of the nation. And so, the five cycles are again, read through these on your own:

  • Cycle One is (Leviticus 26) verses 14 to 17.
  • Cycle Two is verses 18 to 20.
  • Cycle Three is verses 21 to 22.
  • Cycle Four, verses 23 to 26.
  • Cycle Five, the final cycle of discipline, verses 27 to 39.

This is where the nation ceases to exist. Now, these warnings were given specifically to the nation of Israel, but if you study history, you find that in every great nation that was enlightened with regard to the Word of God, the same thing seems to happen. And I would suggest that we in the United States are somewhere in, maybe, the middle of the fifth cycle of discipline. At the end of each cycle, there’s a phrase, and this is what He (God) says, “After all this, after all of My discipline, after suffering all My judgment, if you do not obey me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” And it ends up, of course, with the nation being destroyed. So, we definitely, as a nation, have experienced what’s going on here. But remember, I want to leave you with this: When Sennacherib surrounded Jerusalem, the leader was Hezekiah. Hezekiah prayed to God for deliverance and the prophet Isaiah said deliverance will come and there was no other army that came to rescue them. There was no help from any other human quarter that came to rescue them. The Lord Jesus Christ went out and won the victory. That could happen for America. That could happen if enough Christians were diligent enough, devoted enough in our prayers—praying for God to rescue this nation. You know, like the 7000 that have never bowed their knee to Baal, we never know who they are. We don’t know who the remnant are, or how big the remnant is. But we do know that we are to be part of it, and we can play our part. God doesn’t require multitude, He only requires a few!