Isaiah Chapter 44: Jacob’s Trouble, Holy Remnant, Cyrus

Nov 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Isaiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Isaiah Chapter 44: Jacob’s Trouble, Holy Remnant, Cyrus

Isa. 44:1 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:

Israel was being addressed.

Isa. 44:2 Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.

God “made” and “formed” Jacob “from the womb.” When did He do this? Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, meaning “the people of God.” Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were individuals, patriarchs. When Jacob, the last of the patriarchs, died, God dealt with his 12 sons and their progeny. Stated another way, Jacob’s 12 sons inherited the position he had occupied as a patriarch. Just before Jacob died in Egypt, he gave a blessing to each of his 12 sons. This act marked the beginning of the nation of Israel. Since the nation grew and developed in Egypt, Egypt was the “womb.” When Israel was called and led out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, the nation was baptized in the sea and under the cloud. The Apostle Paul linked the beginning of Israel with the Exodus rather than with the death of Jacob, and that would be true from a certain standpoint. Israel labored in the womb under Egyptian taskmasters for 215 years and then was born or baptized in the Red Sea in the Exodus to begin a new life. Elsewhere the picture is carried forward, and Israel is likened to a babe still attached to the umbilical cord.

Then God dried up the baby and nurtured Israel as an eagle stirs up her nest and cares for her young (Deut. 32:11,12). Eventually, after 40 years, God led Israel into the Holy Land. Thus He was instrumental in forming the nation and in causing the name Jacob to become significant.

Jesurun (or Jeshurun) is usually defined as “the darling upright one,” referring to Israel. However, depending on the vowels, it can mean “the one in whom God delights.” Jesurun is a term of endearment and forgiveness that includes the thought of “happiness.” Before his death, Moses gave two prophetic talks to the nation of Israel in which he used this term (Deut. 32:15; 33:5,26). He prophesied how Israel would go astray like a spoiled child and ultimately be brought back into favor. Moses pointed out that the Israelites did not realize how favored they were and hence they needed lessons.

Isa. 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

Isa. 44:4 And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.

God said that He would “pour” water upon the thirsty and “pour” His spirit and blessing upon their seed, their offspring. In other words, God would multiply their offspring. Near the end of this book, Isaiah spoke of this blessed offspring as a class that will be born in the earlier stages of the Kingdom, for the begetting of children will not immediately cease when the Kingdom is established.

Verses 3 and 4 must have a future fulfillment, for God did not pour out His spirit on Israel in Isaiah’s day or in any time up to the present. In fact, shortly after Isaiah uttered this prophecy, the ten-tribe kingdom was taken captive, and a century later the same thing happened to the two-tribe kingdom. And when Israelites returned to their land in 536 BC, they were under Gentile dominion.

Zechariah 12:10 shows that the spirit God pours out on Israel will be a spirit of mourning. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” After the Holy Remnant repents, God will bless them abundantly as the nucleus of the Kingdom.

Isa. 44:5 One shall say, I am the LORD’S; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.

This verse is future; it will be fulfilled at the introduction of the Kingdom. When the Holy Remnant are saved, they will all be religious and dedicated, or consecrated, to the Lord. “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:9). “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD”; this will be particularly true of the nation of Israel when the Kingdom begins (Jer. 31:34).

One will sa y, “I am Jehovah’s.” Another shall say, “My name is Jacob.” Still another will say, “I am a Jew.” They will all be proud to be Jews. The Holy Remnant will openly profess their religion at that time, whereas now Jews generally try to hide or lose their identity.

In principle, “orthodox” Muslims do this now, for they must have “Muhammad” in their name as one, two, or three syllables in any order. Especially in former times, Catholics had to have saints’ names or Biblical names.

Isa. 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Jehovah is Israel’s King and Redeemer. He is the “first” and the “last,” and beside Him there is no other God. In other words, He alone is the Chief One worthy of worship.

Isa. 44:7 And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them.

The RSV reads, “Who is like me? Let him proclaim it, let him declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.” The force of verse 7 will not be recognized until prophecy is fulfilled. When the Kingdom is established with the capital at Jerusalem, with Messiah ruling, and with the Ancient Worthies on the scene, it will CLEARLY be seen that God foretold 4,000 years in advance what would happen. Who else could prophesy in this manner?

Isa. 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

A message will be given to the Holy Remnant before Jacob’s Trouble. While that message will make Israel cognizant of the fact that the horde of Gog and Magog will come down and would annihilate them if God did not intervene, they will not necessarily know about Jesus until around the time the Ancient Worthies appear on the scene in the midst of Jacob’s Trouble. The message will be one of comfort in which the Holy Remnant realize that God has purposed to save those in the right heart attitude and bring them through the fire.

While the first message of general reassurance will be given prior to Jacob’s Trouble, the second message of reassurance will take place after Jacob’s Trouble and will be something like Joseph’s  revealment of his identity to his brethren. The brothers’ first reaction was fear and shock that the one they had left to die was now the prime minister of Egypt. And so the Holy Remnant will experience guilt and shock at the realization Jesus is their Messiah. In their remorse, they will mourn for Jesus as for an only son. God will then pour His spirit of supplication upon this contrite remnant class. Verse 8 seems to be the message after Jacob’s Trouble.

In summary, there will be two messages of “Fear not”:

1. A message before Jacob’s Trouble: “Fear not; a Holy Remnant will be saved.”

2. A message after Jacob’s Trouble, when the Holy Remnant is chastened, fearful, and mourning: “Fear not; Jesus is your Savior.”

Isa. 44:9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

Why is the subject of graven images inserted here? Not today but back in Isaiah’s day, idol worship was practiced by Israel. The Lord was quite displeased at the stupidity of man to worship things made with human hands. Man should be able to see God’s handiwork all around in nature. The foolishness of idol worship is mentioned several times in the Book of Isaiah.

“They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit.” Why will they not profit? Because “they [the dumb idols] are their [man’s] own witnesses.” Men are dumb to worship dumb idols that cannot speak, hear, or move! God was saying to Israel, “I brought you out of Egypt and nurtured and blessed you, and what are you doing now? You are worshipping sticks and stones. What is the matter with you? To form a thing yourself and then worship it is ridiculous.” God gave Israel a tongue-lashing, yet He was merciful to them. Sometimes it is necessary for hurt to precede blessing and true mercy.

Isa. 44:10 Who hath formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing?

Isa. 44:11 Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.

Isa. 44:12 The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.

Isa. 44:13 The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.

Isa. 44:14 He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

Isa. 44:15 Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

Isa. 44:16 He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:

Isa. 44:17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

What sarcasm! To make a metallic god, for example, the blacksmith heats the metal and then laboriously shapes and beats it with muscle. As he gets tired and thirsty, he stops in weakness to rest, eat food, and drink water (but God does not tire!).

Then the picture changes to the maker of a wooden idol. He waits years for the tree to grow just right. (The various trees used to carve statues are listed: cypress, oak, cedar, and ash.) Meanwhile, he prunes the tree to encourage the shape he has in mind. Finally the day comes when he cuts down the tree and lops off the branches and wood that are not needed to make the idol. Then, using a compass, he begins to draw the figure of a being on all sides. As the temperature drops, he uses the surplus branches to build a fire. When he gets warm, he says, “Aha, I am warm.”

What a farce and foolishness! Mortal man tries to make an immortal statue that will give him advice when he prays to it. Mortal man puts considerable thinking into making the dumb statue, and as soon as he puts it on a pedestal, he prays and bows to it as if it underwent a miraculous change. But the idol cannot talk or hear; it is powerless. Such worship and obeisance show just how thick-headed the human race can be!

This principle of fashioning an object for worship with one’s hands is larger in scope than just a literal statue or idol. Some make an idol out of an evangelical work. In effect, they consecrate to an organization and look to that organization for direction. They forget that a personalized consecration to God is the main thing. Jesus said to the Church of Ephesus, “I know your labors and your works, but you do not love ME as you did at first.” There is a tendency to lose the personal relationship with God by straying into activity (social or otherwise) and there seeking advice and comfort. Activity has its place if it is subservient to the supreme worship of the Creator and His Son Jesus. We must not let either activity or an organization supersede such worship.

The maker of the statue “falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.” The statue is his god, yet it is the product of his own hands.

Q: In certain instances, wouldn’t Satan do some strange things through these gods?

A: On occasion. When a “miracle” occurs, we should weigh the moral circumstances and the moral atmosphere in which it is performed. The Lord does miracles for His people through His holy angels, but since Satan also does supernatural things to deceive, we must reason on the nature of the miracle and pray about it to discern whether it is of God or of Satan. Deceptive “miracles” are performed by Satan and the fallen angels for selfish purposes and not for the good of the individual. Healings that are done in an atmosphere where nothing edifying is preached from the Word should immediately be suspect and avoided. “Miracles” that do not lead to a study of the Bible are deceptions. The question should be asked, “What would following and accepting this atmosphere do to me in time?”

Isa. 44:18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

Isa. 44:19 And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

Isa. 44:20 He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

These verses point out the need to inspect motives. If the maker of the statue had analyzed his motive, he would have seen that there was a “lie” in his right hand, that worshipping the statue was not true reverence for God. An example of an improper motive would be the worker’s wanting others to see and admire his skill in workmanship and the beauty of the statue. After a while, the worker becomes enamored, as in self-hypnosis, and begins to believe his product is truly wonderful. A person’s heart could be deceived into making and worshipping an idol through the influence of another human being or the suggestion of a fallen angel or even by his own thinking.

“He feedeth on ashes.” When all is said and done, when no answer is forthcoming from the idol, it ends up in “ashes.” We use the expression “gone up in smoke.” “Your dream has gone up in smoke”; that is, “Your dream has deteriorated.”

Isa. 44:21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.

Isa. 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

Isa. 44:23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

Isa. 44:24 Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Isa. 44:25 That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish;

Isa. 44:26 That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:

The setting of verses 21-26 is after Jacob’s Trouble. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your [the Church’s and Israel’s] sins may be blotted out [at Christ’s Second Advent], when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). While Isaiah Chapter 44 gives Israel a tongue-lashing, it also gives the Jews a strong message of hope. The sins of Christians are only temporarily covered now; sins will be permanently blotted out when they receive their spiritual change. Israel’s sins will be blotted out after Jacob’s Trouble.

“Thus saith the LORD, … I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.” Sometimes a person who is under the influence of the fallen angels will cut open an animal and read its organs like tea leaves and prophesy of the future. Many such prophecies were true back there because angels have superior capabilities of knowing things that are happening a thousand miles away. But when God had a particular purpose in mind, the fallen angels could not operate in that area. When God so desires, He intervenes in Satan’s occult dealings and causes them to go awry. Back in Isaiah’s day, those who were regarded as being wise in their counsel suddenly could not reason straight.

“I am the LORD … that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers.” God uttered various prophecies through the Old Testament prophets, but now, in the time setting here in Isaiah, predictions materialize, confirming the prophetic word. Now is the time for the establishment of the Kingdom. In the rescue of the Holy Remnant, Jerusalem will be leveled, and verse 26 is saying that the time has come for Jerusalem to be rebuilt. “I am the LORD … that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof.” This prophecy will be fulfilled when Jerusalem is rebuilt. “Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof” (Jer. 30:18). God will then have confirmed His former predictions—His predictions made thousands of years ago.

“I will raise up the decayed places thereof [the wastes of Jerusalem—KJV margin].” Isaiah wrote these prophecies in the days of King Hezekiah, which was about 150 years before Cyrus came on the scene. Jerusalem was still intact, for this was prior to 606 BC. Isaiah’s prediction was that Jerusalem would be leveled and then rebuilt, and that Cyrus would somehow be identified with a reconstruction work. In time, Isaiah died. Later the city and the Temple were destroyed, and the Israelites went into captivity, leaving the land desolate for 70 years.

Isa. 44:27 That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:

Isa. 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

When the 50,000 Israelites returned from Babylon after Cyrus’s decree, they rebuilt the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. At that time, they read this prophecy of Isaiah and thought its fulfillment had come; they even thought that their transgressions had been blotted out. They expected all of these blessings at that time and did not realize the fulfillment was more than 2,000 years in the future, at the end of the Gospel Age.

The deep river that would become dry is the Euphrates River. When Cyrus was irritated and frustrated at the strong, entrenched position of Babylon with its high, strong wall, the Lord somehow put into his mind the thought of digging a channel to divert the water. (Since Isaiah had already recorded Cyrus’s name in Holy Writ years before he was born, someone may have pointed out that prophecy to him.) When Cyrus diverted the river, he was able to enter the city under its gates and to capture it.

Did Cyrus say to Jerusalem, “Thou shalt be built”? No, but Isaiah 45:13 seems to say that he did: “He shall build my city.” In the Second Volume chapter that discusses the date of Jesus’ First Advent, the Pastor answered this enigma by saying the Hebrew word ir can be applied to an enclosed place, such as a court. From that standpoint, Cyrus did build the enclosed place, or court, of the Temple. However, the Pastor did not answer the statement of verse 28, which is even stronger: “Jerusalem … shalt be built.” According to the Hebrew, there should be a change in verse 28. The words “even saying” should read “and saying to”; namely, “I am the LORD … That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: and saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” It was not Cyrus but Jehovah who will say to Jerusalem, “Thou shalt be built.” This thought can be traced from verse 24: “Thus saith the LORD [verse 24] … that frustrateth [verse 25], … that confirmeth [verse 26], … that saith [verse 27], … and saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built.”

2 Chronicles 36:22,23 verifies that Cyrus was to build the Temple (“house”), not the city: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”

Ezra 1:1,2 also shows that Cyrus was to build the Temple: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” Succeeding verses in Ezra also emphasize the Temple, as follows:

“Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5). The Jews who returned to Jerusalem went there to build the “house” of  the Lord.

“And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: They gave after their  ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments” (Ezra 2:68,69). The Temple had not been erected yet; neither had the foundation been laid. Some of the returning Israelites went to the desolate Temple site and began to donate freely.

Ezra 3:1-6 reads, “And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in  the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening. They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required; And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD. From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.” The Temple was still not finished; in fact, even the foundation had not yet been laid. A temporary altar was built so that offerings could be made.

In the second month of the second year, workers were appointed to lay the foundation of the Temple: “Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel … and Jeshua … and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel” (Ezra 3:8,10).

Ezra 5 tells that the prophets Haggai and Zechariah began to prophesy. Then Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest, rose up and started to build the Temple with the prophets encouraging and helping them (Zech. 6:11). Next some outsiders began to find fault: “At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shethar-boznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall [of the Temple]?” Both Tatnai and Shethar-boznai wanted to know the names of those Jews who were responsible.

Then Tatnai wrote a letter to Darius the king: “Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands. Then asked we those elders, and said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that were the chief of them. And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up. But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished.” Tatnai summed up his letter as follows: “Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.” Notice that the Temple was still not finished and that nothing was mentioned about rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Notice, also, the humble attitude of the returned Jews.

Ezra 6 continues the narrative. When King Darius f ound that Cyrus had made a decree years before for the “house” (Temple) to be built, he told Tatnai to cooperate with the Jews and to supply them with animals for sacrificing. Even some of the tribute (tax) money was to be given to assist with building expenses. Those who would not cooperate with the Jews were to be hanged with timber from their own houses. Under theses conditions, the work began to prosper, and the Temple foundation was finished. Finally the Temple itself was completed.

As the Book of Ezra continues, we are told that there was a second exodus (much smaller than the first) of Jews from Babylon. They returned to Israel with freewill offerings of silver and gold, but again the work was frustrated—this time when they began to build the walls of the courtyard. (The next step was to build the city walls, making Jerusalem defensible, and the objection was that the Israelites would then no longer pay taxes.)

In the month of Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, which was long after Cyrus, Nehemiah was given permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall (Nehemiah 2). Critics of the Pastor’s chronology say that if the 70 weeks are applied from Nisan, then the 69 weeks would have to end in Nisan, and the one-half additional week (69 1/2 weeks until Messiah was cut off) would terminate in October. However, Jesus was not crucified in October. The following explanation is offered.

While it is true that Nehemiah got permission to rebuild the city wall in the month of Nisan, he needed some time to prepare for the four-month journey. (We know the journey took four months because that is the time Ezra needed for his return.) Even when Nehemiah reached Jerusalem, he stayed incognito for three days so that he could secretly examine the city at night. The account tells that it took 52 days to rebuild the wall. Adding the 3 days to the 52 days gives a total of 55 days. On the 25th day of the month of Elul (Neh. 6:15), the wall was finished.

This month is not mentioned again in the Bible, but the Book of Maccabees and other places declare it to be the sixth month, which would be late September. The Pastor thought Jesus returned on October 1, 1874, for his Second Advent, but he said that the return had to be in the range of September 25 to October 5. The earlier date seems reasonable, for September 25 would match exactly the date given in Nehemiah for the completion of the city wall. In antitype, Cyrus, whose name means “sun,” pictures Jesus and his work in the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom will be established with Jesus as His agent, or representative.

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