The Review and Herald


March 14, 1907

The Return of the Exiles—No. 1

The End of Seventy Years


Soon after the fall of Babylon and the beginning of the universal empire of Medo-Persia, in the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, Daniel the prophet “understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.” RH March 14, 1907, par. 1

Daniel and his companions had been taken to Babylon “in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah.” They were members of the first company of captives whom Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem into the land of Shinar. Daniel was well acquainted with the prophecies of Jeremiah at the time they were given, and he had passed through the periods immediately succeeding the first and the second sieges of Jerusalem, when many false prophets had arisen with the claim that the captivity was to be of short duration. RH March 14, 1907, par. 2

“In the fourth year of Jehoiakim,” very soon after Daniel was taken to Babylon, Jeremiah predicted the captivity of many of the Jews, as their punishment for not heeding the word of the Lord. The Chaldeans were to be used as the instrument by which God would chastise his disobedient people. Their punishment was to be in proportion to their intelligence and to the warnings they had despised. “This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment,” the prophet declared; “and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” RH March 14, 1907, par. 3

In the light of these plain words foretelling the duration of the captivity, it seems strange that any one should hold that the Israelites would soon return from Babylon. And yet there were in Jerusalem and in Babylon those who persisted in encouraging the people to hope for a speedy deliverance. God dealt summarily with some of these false prophets, and thus vindicated the truthfulness of Jeremiah, his messenger. RH March 14, 1907, par. 4

To the end of time, men will arise to create confusion and rebellion among the people who profess to obey the law of God. But as surely as divine judgment was visited upon the false prophets in Jeremiah's day, so surely will the evil workers of today receive their full measure of retribution, for the Lord has not changed. Those who prophesy lies, encourage men to look upon sin as a light thing. When the terrible results of their evil deeds are made manifest, they seek, if possible, to make the one who has faithfully warned them responsible for their difficulties, even as the Jews charged Jeremiah with their evil fortunes. RH March 14, 1907, par. 5

Those who pursue a course of rebellion against the Lord can always find false prophets who will justify them in their acts, and flatter them to their destruction. Lying words often make many friends, as is illustrated in the case of these false teachers among the Israelites. These so-called prophets, in their pretended zeal for God, found many more believers and followers than the true prophet who delivered the simple message of the Lord. RH March 14, 1907, par. 6

In view of the work of these false prophets, Jeremiah was directed by the Lord to write letters to the captains, elders, priests, prophets, and all the people who had been taken captive to Babylon, bidding them not to be deluded into believing their deliverance nigh, but to submit quietly, pursue their vocations, and make for themselves peaceful homes among their conquerors. The Lord bade them not to allow so-called prophets or diviners to deceive them with false expectations. Through his servant Jeremiah he assured them that after seventy years’ bondage they should be delivered, and should return to Jerusalem. God would listen to their prayers and show them his favor, when they would turn to him with all their hearts. “I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” RH March 14, 1907, par. 7

With what tender compassion did God inform his captive people of his plans for Israel! He knew what suffering and disaster they would have to undergo, were they led to believe, according to the prediction of the false prophets, that they should be speedily delivered and brought back to Jerusalem. He knew that this belief would make their position a very difficult one. Any effort on their part to regain freedom would awaken the vigilance and severity of the king, and their liberty would be restricted in consequence. The Lord desired them to submit quietly to their fate, and make their servitude as pleasant as possible. RH March 14, 1907, par. 8

(To be concluded.)