In the previous post, we quickly covered Israel’s turbulent history, as they battled with their neighbors and were ultimately carried off to Babylonian captivity.
It was a tumultuous time, and all due to their persistent disobedience to God’s comands.
Despite their difficulties, we know the Israelites had hope of a new covenant promised by God (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
In conjunction with the promise of a new covenant, Isaiah 11 paints the picture of a conquering Messiah, gathering the scattered children of Israel from every corner of the globe and destroying Israel’s enemies.
Although very little is written about the historical gap between the Old Testament and New Testament, we do know what was prophesied by the prophet Daniel as it coincides with what we know from history.
The short version… Aside from the region controlled by the Maccabees for a short time(164-63 BC), Israel never regained its sovereignty after returning from Babylonian captivity.
Instead, they became subjects of each successive world empire that controlled the region.
A quick survey of history confirms the accuracy of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as interpreted by Daniel (ch. 2), with each successive kingdom dominating the Middle Eastern landscape.
Interestingly, Isaiah mentioned Cyrus by name 140 years earlier, as God’s servant to help rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.
The Medo-Persian Empire was conquered by the Greek (Macedonian) Empire in 331 BC at the hands of Alexander the Great. When Alexander died, the empire was split into sub-regions, just as Daniel 8:8 and Daniel 11:4 predicted.
The Greek Empire was conquered by the Roman Empire in 168 BC, who controlled Jerusalem until roughly 634 AD. (Yes, I still recognize AD rather than CE to denote Anno Domini [Year of our Lord] instead of Current Era that attempts to eliminate any reference to the life of Jesus.)
During the reign of the Roman empire, the final dispersion (also known as the Diaspora) of the Israelites seemed complete.
The Diaspora may have started when the Israelites were first exiled by the Assyrians and again by the Babylonians, but they would not give up. They were determined to keep their inheritance.
The Israelites (Jews) revolted against their Roman overlords in 66 AD, but the rebellion was finally crushed in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
The temple was never rebuilt, and the final phase of the dispersion came in 135 AD when a second rebellion was crushed and the Jews were prohibited from settling in Jerusalem.
To any rational observer, the nation of Israel seemed to cease. In fact, their entire religious system was dealt a serious blow, since the sacrificial system they depended on for the forgiveness of sins was terminated when the temple was destroyed.
Despite the loss of their temple and homeland, the Jewish people did not vanish. Miraculously, they still cling to their hope of God fulfilling His promises of both the new covenant and their conquering Messiah.
In the next installment of this series, we need to make one more significant stop in history before bringing everything back to present-day hostilities. Read more here…