The Review and Herald

1477/1902

March 21, 1907

The Return of the Exiles—No. 1

(Concluded.)

EGW

A copy of the letters sent by Jeremiah to the Hebrew captives in Babylon, and of the letters sent by the false prophets to these captives and to the authorities of Jerusalem, together with a story of the controversy between the true and false, is found in the twenty-seventh to the twenty-ninth chapters of Jeremiah. RH March 21, 1907, par. 1

It was immediately after this interchange of letters between Jeremiah and the elders of the Israelites in captivity, that the prophet was instructed to write in a book all that had been revealed to him regarding the restoration of Israel. This is recorded in the thirtieth and the thirty-first chapters of Jeremiah. RH March 21, 1907, par. 2

These, with the prophecies of the twenty-fifth chapter, are the letters and the records that Daniel the prophet, during “the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede,” prayerfully studied, three-score years and more after they were written. Daniel was familiar with the circumstances connected with Jeremiah's testimonies given very soon after the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. He well knew that the promise of the return was sure; and yet, a short time before, “in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar,” the angel of the Lord had instructed him in vision, “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 3

Daniel “sought for the meaning” of the vision. He could not understand the relation sustained by the seventy years’ captivity to the twenty-three hundred years that were to elapse before the cleansing of God's sanctuary. Gabriel gave a partial interpretation; and when he declared that the vision “shall be for many days,” Daniel fainted. “I Daniel fainted,” the prophet writes, “and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king's business; and I was astonished at the vision; but none understood it.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 4

In his perplexity, Daniel studied anew the prophecies of Jeremiah. They were very plain,—so plain that he “understood” by these testimonies recorded in 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 21, 1907, par. 5

With faith founded on the sure word of prophecy, Daniel pleaded with the Lord for the speedy restoration of the captive exiles to the land of their fathers. “I set my face unto the Lord God,” he declares, “to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession.” “We have sinned,” he acknowledged; “neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 6

“O Lord, according to all thy righteousness,” the prophet pleaded, “let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, harken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 7

The prayer of Daniel was not offered in vain. Even before he had finished pleading with God, Gabriel again appeared to him, and called his attention to the vision he had seen prior to the fall of Babylon at the death of Belshazzar. The angel then outlined in detail the period of the seventy weeks, beginning at the time of “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 8

Daniel's prayer in behalf of his people, as recorded in the ninth chapter, was “in the first year of Darius” the Mede. Darius was favored of heaven; for in the first year of his reign the angel Gabriel “stood up to confirm and to strengthen him.” It was this king who, early in the establishment of the Medo-Persian empire, “set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first.... This Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 9

Darius reigned over Medo-Persia two years after the fall of Babylon. During this time, Daniel was cast into the lions’ den and came out unharmed. This deliverance led Darius to write “unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion in my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.” RH March 21, 1907, par. 10

Thus, while those who had remained loyal to God in the midst of Babylon were seeking the Lord and studying the prophecies foretelling their deliverance, God was preparing the hearts of kings to show favor to his repentant people. RH March 21, 1907, par. 11