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saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" Psal. cxxxvii. Nevertheless, upon the whole, they seemed to have enjoyed tranquillity, and become in many cases naturalized in their new soil.
It is to the prosperity and peace which they enjoyed in captivity that we are to attribute the fact, that when their brethren returned to the land of their fathers, so many were tempted to remain behind in the territory of their conquerors. The favour which God thus gave them in the eyes of the heathen, must have been conducive to the dissemination of the truth among the latter. Little, indeed, is said of the religious character of the captives generally; but from the notices which are thrown out in prophecy and history, it appears that God visited them in their affliction, and that the dew of Hermon descended upon the children, though not upon the mountains, of Zion. *
We may therefore rest assured, that as the great plain of Babylon was watered in every quarter by artificial canals led off from the Euphrates, and every tree and shady bower which clothed it with beauty was refreshed by little streamlets which moistened its roots, so the one hundred and twenty seven provinces of the empire would be irrigated by the Jews, who, wherever they went, would be as “streams from Lebanon;" and that thus many a rose of Sharon and lily of the valley, whose name is unknown to us, may have sprung up in places where all was desolation before.
Yet it was not by the imperceptible influence alone of the scattered dwellings of Israel that God sought to prepare the heathen for the accomplishing of his purposes. He was pleased to bring his people forward in a most prominent manner before the eyes of the
* Psalm cxxxii. 3. The translation ought to be," as the dew of Hermon that descended upon the mountains of Zion," alluding per. haps to the 'multitudes at the passover, or rather at the feast of taber. nacles, who, flocking from the distant parts of Judea, and, bringing a blessing along with them, “dwelt together as brethren in unity" at Jerusalem.
empire, by a series of wonderful providences, and by raising up remarkable individuals among them, the lustre of whose character was always connected with the God of Israel and the truth which is unto salvation. It is most interesting to cast our eye over the events recorded in the book of Daniel with the intention of observing how God's purposes towards the gentiles were effected. The comeliness imparted to Daniel and his friends, in connection with their acknowledged adherence to the true God, which at once brought them into royal favour: God's causing the eye of the sleeping king to behold the bright-image formed of many metals, which, being struck by the stone hewn without hands from the mountain side, “ became like chaff upon the summer's threshing floor, which the wind carrieth away,” while the stone became a great mountain and filled the whole earth; a vision which set forth in mysterious colours the humble rise of Messiah, and his final glorious supremacy over all kingdoms: The fact that Daniel, one of the captives of Judah, could alone interpret it; The circumstance arranged by Providence that the king should forget the terms of the vision, while notwithsanding an indelible impression of its importance remained upon his mind, in order that the miraculous recall of the vision by Daniel might afford evidence to the heathen king that the vision was from God, and that Daniel's interpretation of the coming of Christ's kingdom was true: The consequent elevation of the servant of the God of Israel to the highest rank which a subject could enjoy; nay, more, to the highest rank among the wise men of Babylon, who in a great measure directed the mind of the empire, to whom he must have often spoken of that stone hewn without hands, and of Messiah the Prince, who, springing from the Jews, was to make reconciliation for iniquity and bring in everlasting righteousness, the tradition regarding whom seems to have been cherished by their descendants, who, as the seventy weeks were passing away in the days of Herod the king, came with their gold, frankincense, and myrrh, to Jerusalem, saying, “ Where is he that is born king of the Jews, (Dan. ix. 24, 25,) for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him?” Matt. ii. 2: The providential persecution of the three young Israelites, who, though high in rank in Babylon, (Dan. ii. 49,) were, for their steadfast adherence to the service of the living God, bound in their state garments by the king's command, and cast by his mightiest generals (Dan. iii. 20) into the seven-timesheated furnace, there to lie till one like the Son of God should come to loose their bands, and walk with them unhurt in the flames before the astonished king, which led to an edict promulgated throughout the vast empire, that no one should speak against the God of Israel on pain of death: The expulsion of Nebuchadnezzar from his throne, according to Daniel's word; his seeming conversion, (Dan. iv. 1-3,) and public acknowledgment of the true God: The awful appearance of the fingers of the hand upon the wall and over against the candlestick, (perhaps the golden candlestick of the temple, Dan. v. 2, *) in Belshazzar's festive halls at the very hour when his lords and concubines quaffed wine in blasphemy froni Jehovah's sacred cups, and praised the gods of wood and stone: The call of “ that Daniel which was of the children of the captivity of Judah,"t to assert the supremacy of that God whose name he had profaned, pronounce the tyrant's righteous doom, and foretell the fall of the proud city which the Jews had doubtless often shown their conquerors to be declared in the pages of their prophets: The consequent elevation of Daniel to be prime minister of Darius the Mede: His access to the royal ear and faithful discharge of duty, coupled with his open profession of faith in his God, as shown by the crafty counsel of the jealous satraps who succeeded in casting the venerable minister into the lion's den, through their knowledge of the strength of his religious principles: The miracle, in connexion with his religion, of his deliverance from the lions, which, from communications doubtless often made by the ministers to his sovereign, even Darius seems to have expected, (Dan. vi. 16,) and the consequent decree for the honouring of the God of Daniel," "as the living God and steadfast for ever," promulgated throughout the empire: The continued favour he met with in the eyes of Cyrus the Persian, (Dan. vi. 28,) in order that Cyrus might, in all likelihood through his means, behold his own name enrolled in the volume of prophecy two hundred years before, the effect upon the king's mind being such that he threw open the twoleaved gates and bid the oppressed go free: Lastly, the fact that the clearest and most explicit predictions regarding Messias which as yet had been uttered, were given through the man whose wisdom, (Ezek. xxviii. 3,) whose integrity, (Dan. vi. 5,) and well known piety, (verse 16,) whose high rank both in the government and over the wise men of the Chaldeans, whose favour with the heads both of the Babylonian and Medo-Persian dynasties, the miracles connected with whom and whose age, made him most likely of all men upon earth at the time to gain respect for any announcement he should make to the world: All these things, brethren, and more might have been added, clearly show that God had not alone the just punishment of his people in view, when he carried them into the bosom of the two great monarchies, which at that time successively swayed the sceptre of the world. But, as doubtless it had been in part his design in taking them formerly down to Egypt, so now, by miracles, providences, the raising up of remarkable individuals, and by scattering his people over the length and breadth of the land, did he seek to make himself known among the heathen, and to prepare the world for the coming of his Son.
* See, however, 2 Kings, i. 3. † Dan. v. 13. Daniel evidently held office under Belshazzar before this, (Dan viii. 27, compare with verse 1,) although, from his gross indolence and love of pleasure, the king seems not to have known it. The queen (ver. 10) was the queen-mother Nitocris, who, like Nebuchadnezzar, her father-in-law, seems to have been deeply impressed through means of Daniel. Who can tell but that both are now in glory, trophies of the Lord's rich and sovereign grace ?
But to return to God's dealings in behalf of his own people. Nothing is more striking than his watchfulness over them, and the constant eye which he had towards their restoration. It was from them that Messiah was to spring; and like the ark of bulrushes among the flags of the Nile, (Exod. ii. 3,) they were safe in the Lord's hand, amid the rage of the spoiler and the fall and crash of empires. Perhaps the most wonderful link in the chain of providences connected with the captivity was the raising up of Daniel, who, like Moses, the instrument of leading Israel out of bondage in Egypt, seems to have been the chief agent in procuring favour for his brethren and their final restoration from Babylon. Daniel was one of those who lived during all the seventy years. He was of the tribe of Judah, and probably of the royal family of David. (Dan. i. 6. 3.) From the very first God paved his way to advancement. We have seen how under the Babylonian dynasty, God raised him to the highest rank both as a subject, and over the wise men; and it was doubtless in consequence of the continued favour which he enjoyed under the kings of Babylon, that the heathen were led to show such favour to the captives. It was from the same care of the Lord over Israel, that at the very moment when the Medes and Persians were unsheathing their swords, and preparing to deluge the marble pavements of Babylon with the blood of her slain, the Lord was preparing a shield for his trembling people; this he did, by the appearance of the mysterious hand upon the wall, which, tracing in unknown characters Babylon's and Belshazzar's doom, required the presence of Daniel to interpret them, in order that, while all lay in the deceitful calm which precedes the hurricane, the captive Jew might boldly charge the tyrant with his crimes, foretell the proud city's fall, and the ascent of the Mede and Persian unto the Babylonish throne. Who does not perceive that it was the knowledge of what Daniel, one of the ministers of the king,* had done and prophesied, which, reaching the