Monthly Archives: August 2017



It was as cold and wet outside as a late November and early December day (Hebrew month of Chislev), but the king sat in his enclosed, winter quarters, warming himself by the fire pit (36:22). The princes were all in the room as well as some of the king’s servants and Jehudi had just returned with the scroll that Baruch had written as Jeremiah dictated the words of the prophecies he had pronounced years earlier (36:4). When three or four leaves of the prophecy were read aloud in the king’s hearing, either Jehudi or Jehoiakim, the king, cut the papyrus scroll in pieces and brazenly cast it into the fire.

The one person not literally in the room but on everyone’s mind was Jeremiah the prophet. Jeremiah (“Jah will raise”) was initially reluctant in his role as prophet. When he was first called by the Lord he used Moses’ old excuse, “I cannot speak” but the Lord exploded that feeble argument (1:6-10; cf. Ex. 4:10). During his service as the Lord’s prophet he despaired when the people derided and mocked him daily (20:7). Like Job, he even cursed the day he was born (20:14-17). At one point he became so distraught that he attempted to refrain from speaking, but God’s word was as a fire shut up in his bones and he could not keep quiet (20:9).

But Jeremiah was young when the Lord called him to speak to His people, perhaps around twenty years of age (1:6). From the first, the Lord told him that his task would not be an easy one. He was warned not to be dismayed though he was going to be opposed by the people (1:17). The Lord told him that the people of the land, the priests, the princes, the kings, even the whole land would fight against him (1:18). Even his townsmen and family opposed him (11:21,12:6).

His message would not be a popular one. The Lord had established his covenant with His people and a curse was placed on all those that did not obey (11:1-7). And yet their history was one of rebellion and disobedience (11:8-10). Because they had continuously disobeyed, the Lord was going to bring evil upon them from which they would not be able to escape (11:11-17). The Lord would bring Babylon against them and they would serve them for seventy years (25:8-11). Because of this message, he suffered much at the hand of his enemies. He was thrown into stocks, cast in prison, he was thrown into a pit and his life was sought by his enemies (20:1-3; 33:1; 37:15-21; 38:6-13; 11:18-21).

This opposition came a little later in his work, however. Initially, as he prophesied under Josiah, he was relatively free from trouble. The young and good king Josiah had taken the throne and had begun drastic reforms in the land (II Kings 22,23). But though Josiah was sincere in his reforms and in his personal conduct, the hearts of the people in the land were not converted for immediately after Josiah’s death, the people began to revert back to their old ways. When Josiah died, Jeremiah lamented his death (II Chron. 35:25).

There were other prophets in the land beside Jeremiah. Many of them. But the vast majority of those prophets prophesied falsely (5:28). “From the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one [was] given to covetousness;” said Jeremiah, “and from the prophet even unto the priest every one [dealt] falsely” (Jer. 6:13). They all cried “Peace! Peace! When there was no peace” (6:14). Jeremiah warned them of the coming judgment and captivity. He implored them to “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).

After Jehoiakim had burned the scroll, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah again and had him write once more all the words that were on the first scroll with the addition of new judgments against Judah (36:28,32; cf. Rev. 22:18,19). It was shear folly to think that God’s word could be destroyed or that God’s judgment could be avoided by not paying heed to it (Matt. 24:36; Psalm 12:5-8). You can’t hide from God by ignoring His word. You just can’t hide from God (Heb. 4:13)! Period.

However, not everything that Jeremiah wrote promised judgement, destruction and death. The very judgements passed were immersed in divine love, enduring mercy and hope. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (31:3). “I will surely have mercy upon him” (31:20). “There is hope in thine end” (31:17). While His people had broken His covenant God was going to make a new covenant that would be planted in the heart and where the sins and iniquities would be remembered no more (31:31-34). The Righteous Branch would be raised up and in His days Judah and Israel would be saved (23:5,6).

Eric L. Padgett


What an awe-inspiring vision it must have been, this vision of the Lord which Isaiah saw. He beheld the Lord “sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple” (6:1). He said “mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts” (6:5). The majesty of the scene, the splendor of His appearance, the grandeur and the radiance of His presence shook the very foundations of the temple and filled Isaiah with a sense of uncleanness and weakness (6:4,5). Even the seraphim were overcome with the glory of the sight and burst out in refrains of praise for the holiness of the Lord (6:3).

By his own accounting, Isaiah, the son of Amoz (“strong”), prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Is. 1:1). If, as tradition states (though not stated in scripture), he also continued during the reign of Manasseh, his tenure as a prophet of the Lord was anywhere from forty to over sixty years. Whether or not the vision above is a record of his first vision or a subsequent one is also not clear. This particular vision occurred during the year the king died (6:1), but he begins the prophecy by saying he saw these visions during the “days” of Uzziah, Jotham, etc (1:1).

Another tradition surrounding Isaiah says that he was the cousin of Uzziah, making him of royal blood. It seems as though he had easy access to the king and those in positions of authority (7:1-4; 8:2). He was married and he called his wife a prophetess (8:3), either because she was married to him or because she, herself, was given visions as other, faithful women had been (e.g., Jud. 4:4; II Kings 22:14). He had at least two sons, Mahershalalhashbaz meaning “swift (to the) prey,” and Shearjashub meaning “a remnant will return.” His sons helped him in his prophesying (8:18). If he was of royal blood, he nevertheless shunned the trappings, for he wore sackcloth (20:2). He also authored two other books, biographies of the kings, one of Uzziah and the other of Hezekiah (II Chron. 26:22; 32:32).

One final tradition that should be mentioned, though it has not the force of scripture, is that he is said to have suffered martyrdom under the reign of Manasseh by being sawn in half with a wooden saw. Justin Martyr mentions this tradition. Paul’s mention of those who were “sawn asunder” may be an allusion to this act (Heb. 11:37). Many commentators believe so.

The name Isaiah means “saved by Jehovah” or “the salvation of Jehovah.” Though not the same name, his name has the same meaning as the name of Jesus, which means “saviour” (Matt. 1:21). This is most fitting for many commentators have seen “salvation” as the theme of his writings. “Salvation” is mentioned twenty-eight times in the book of Isaiah, for example, whereas it is mentioned only once in the book of Jeremiah and not even once in Ezekiel. Isaiah is often referred to as the Messianic prophet and the book of Isaiah is indeed the most often quoted book in the New Testament in relation to the Messiah and His everlasting Kingdom.

In this vision, though Isaiah feels unworthy, unclean and weak, yet his sins are symbolically cleansed with a coal from the altar (6:7). Then, when the Lord asks for someone to go to His people, Isaiah immediately responds “Here am I; send me” (6:8). Isaiah was willing to go, to do the will of Jehovah. Someone has said that Isaiah is the evangelist of the Old Testament. Linguistic scholars also observe that he is distinguished from all other writing prophets for his literary and poetic talents. For instance, his portrayal of the Suffering Servant is both beautiful and unmistakably clear.

Isaiah’s commission is a difficult one. He is told to go tell this people, “Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed” (Is. 6:9-10). In effect, the more Isaiah preached the truth, the more the people rejected it. This is true for all ages and all men. Noah was rejected. So were Ezekiel and Jeremiah (Jer. 1:17-19). Zechariah was rejected (II Chron. 24:20,21). Paul was rejected (Gal. 4:16). The list could go on (Matt. 23:35-39).

The passage, however, finds it’s greatest fulfillment in Christ for He came unto His own and His own received Him not (John 1:11). John quotes from Isaiah six immediately after he observes that though Christ did “so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him” (John 12:37). He says that their unbelief happened that the saying of Esaias might be fulfilled and quotes Isaiah 6:9,10. Then, quite amazingly, as John speaks of Jesus rejection by the Jews, he says “these things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him” (John 12:41). When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, when he saw the King, Jehovah of Hosts, he saw the Christ! Will you believe Him or will your ears and eyes and heart be closed to the truth?

Eric L. Padgett


Daniel was a young man, probably in his early teens, when the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar (634-562 B.C.), invaded his homeland (Dan. 1:1-4). This young man, possibly of the royal family (Dan. 1:3) was among the first group deported in 606 B.C. from his own home and forcibly taken to a strange and foreign land. He was never to see his own land again. However, because he trusted in the Lord and remained faithful to Him, he would continually experience God’s blessings throughout the remainder of his long, illustrious life.

Far from being just an ordinary citizen of the land of Judah, he was among the very best God’s people had to offer. Nebuchadnezzar was looking for the best so that he could imbue them with the teaching and the tongue of the Chaldeans (Dan. 1:3,4). Not only was Daniel of superior knowledge and learning than most others, he was also an exceptional moral example. Though Ezekiel was a contemporary of Daniel, he places Daniel between Noah and Job and distinguishes him for his righteousness (Ezek. 14:14,20). This was, perhaps, when he was in his forties or fifties, but very early on he had manifested his faith in God and a holiness of life.

Daniel had ample opportunity to demonstrate his righteousness when in Babylon. At the very beginning, when he was chosen to learn the tongue and teaching of the Chaldeans, Daniel and his three Hebrew companions were offered the king’s meat and his wine to be consumed for a period of three years while they learned the Chaldean way (Dan. 1:4,5). At the end of that period they were to be presented to the king (Dan. 1:5)

But the Bible says Daniel “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself” with the king’s food. There are several reasons why partaking of this food might be considered a defilement, but the real lesson to be gleaned is that Daniel stood his ground on principle. While there were others captives, we are only told of Daniel and his three friends who refused to eat the king’s portion (Dan.1:6,10). Even under these dire circumstances, Daniel kept his integrity and obeyed His God. More of us need to have the heart of Daniel.

Daniel’s long career allowed him to see many changes. About a decade after the previous incident, Belshazzar came to the throne (Dan. 5). It was during his reign when could be seen the “handwriting on the wall (Dan. 5:5)” as the Babylonian Empire came to end when Darius the Mede took over the reigns of power. Darius saw Daniel’s value and placed him over the princes over the kingdom (Dan. 6:1-3).

There were certain men who were envious of Daniel’s success. But his character was so pure that they could find no occasion or fault, neither was there any error found in him (Dan. 6:4). The only way for these men to get at Daniel was through the Lord (Dan. 6:5). These connivers convinced Darius that he should decree an irrevocable decree that whoever asked a petition of any god or man for thirty days should be thrown into the lion’s den (Dan. 6:7). Because they knew the character of Daniel, they knew all they had to do was to wait.

Now Daniel knew the writing was signed by Darius (Dan. 6:10). Possibly, he even knew of the plot against him. Nevertheless, he went to his own house, his windows opened, and did as he always did and prayed (Dan. 6:10,11). And even though he knew his enemies would be lying in wait, he obeyed the Lord. This is character at it’s best. He wasn’t trying to hide but he was not going to stop worshiping the Lord, the one true, living God. Even Darius was saddened that this had hurt Daniel but, even though he tried to find a way to reverse this decree and even though he fasted (Dan. 6:18), he could find no way of altering the law he had made (Dan. 6:14,15). Daniel was thrown into the lions den and it was sealed (Dan. 6:17).

In the morning Darius hastened to the den and removed the stone. He found Daniel alive. The Angel of the Lord had miraculously shut the lion’s mouths because Daniel believed in his God (Dan. 6:23). The passing reference to Daniel in the New Testament is to his faith and this incident in stopping of the mouths of the lions (Heb. 11:33). If we believe in God and trust in Him, the mouth of the roaring lion will be shut (I Pet. 5:8; James 4:7). May we learn to have the heart and the faith of Daniel.

Eric L. Padgett


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are popularly known as the three Hebrew Children, four including Daniel (Dan. 1:17). This word “children” (yeled) covers a number of years, being used of those just born (Ex. 1:17; cf. Ex. 21:22), of those being nursed (Ex. 2:7), and of those who had taken wives (Ruth 1:4,5). In the case of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, they were old enough to be described as having “knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom” (1:17). They were exceptionably intelligent, capable young men.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are the names by which they are best known to most people. These were their Chaldean names, however, given to them in captivity by their captors but their original Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The Hebrew name Hananiah means “the Lord is gracious,” and is a very common name in the Bible. Perhaps thirteen people wear it (e.g., I Chron. 8:24; I Chron. 25:4; Neh. 12:12). Mishael on the other hand is a rare name and means “Who is what God is.” Azariah means “Jehovah is Helper.” It also is a common name is worn by about nineteen Biblical persons (e.g., I Chron. 2:8; I Kings 4:2; I Chron. 6:36).

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were chosen by Nebuchadnezzar because they were exceptional. Not only did they excel in knowledge and science (Dan. 1:4), but they were also physically superior, being “children in whom was no blemish” (Dan. 1:4). They were possibly of the royal household (Dan. 1:3). They were chosen because they were going to be taught the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans” (Dan. 1:4). In effect, they were being brainwashed into taking on a new identity and new religion. Possibly, there was hope that these young men would influence other captives to be satisfied with their present condition.

Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah and Daniel were brought as captives to that land when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem (Dan. 1:1). They would spend seventy years there, unless they happened to die earlier (Dan. 9:2). While they submitted themselves to laws of the land in which they lived, they could not submit to laws that were contrary to God’s will (cf. Acts 5:29). They were singled out because of their unique abilities and qualities which suited the Chaldean’s purposes, but the two qualities which are not specifically ascribed to them, but which come out in the Sacred Text, are their faith and courage.

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are a refreshing contrast to the wickedness we find in the previous kings of Israel and Judah who bowed down to idols and images created by men’s hands. When Nebuchadnezzar had built a ninety foot tall, golden image, he required everyone to fall down before it and worship, lest they be cast into a fiery furnace (Dan. 3:6,7). It is likely that King Ahab would have submitted to it. Jereboam would, as well. No doubt, so would have Omri. Very probably so would all the kings of Israel and many of Judah. But Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were of stronger metal than that and refused to follow suit.

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were also the target of certain jealous Chaldeans who railed against the Jews, who found occasion to speak out against them when these three young Hebrew men did not bow to their pressure (Dan. 3:8). Nebuchadnezzar was enraged and furious that anyone would not obey his commands and worship his false gods (Dan. 3:13). Isn’t it amazing how exacting man can be with his false gods but careless with the truth. He offered them one final chance to turn against Jehovah and the penalty for refusing was death by fiery furnace.

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah responded immediately to this ultimatum. There was no need for further deliberation. There should never be any need for deliberation when the truth is at stake. Their courage and faith in the face of this condemnation is astounding. “Our God is able to deliver us if He desires but if He does not we will still not worship this false god and golden image which you have set up” (Dan. 3:17,18). This further enraged the king and he demanded the furnace be heated seven times hotter than was normal (Dan. 3:19). The flames were so hot, in fact, that the men charged with delivering the three young men into the furnace were themselves consumed by the flames (Dan. 3:22).

Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah found themselves in the fiery furnace, but the laws of physics were not enforced there. The violence of fire was quenched (Heb. 11:34). Not only were they delivered from the flames, but they were joined by the Presence of One who controls the flame (cf. Heb. 1:7; Psalm 104:4; II Kings 2:11; 6:17; Ez. 1:13,14, etc.). God promised His people when they walked through the fire, He would be with them (Is. 43:2). We can rest assured that no matter how hot the flames we may face, that God will be with us if we are with Him (Heb. 13:6). Furthermore, the promise of blessing and glory far outweighs any temporary sufferings we face (Rom. 8:18).

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified (I Peter 4:12-14).

Eric L. Padgett


In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was an “exceeding great city” having a large population (Jon. 3:3; 4:11; cf. Deut. 1:39). Moses mentioned first Nineveh as being built by Asshur, the son of Shem (Gen. 10:11, 22). The children of Asshur then became the Assyrians of which Nineveh became the capitol. Nahum says it was a rich city through commercial enterprise (Nah. 2:8,9; 3:16). However, it was a city full of sin, full of lies and robbery (Nah. 3:1), witchcraft (Nah. 3:4) and idolatry (Nah. 1:14). It was to this city that Jonah was sent by God.

The only man in the Bible named Jonah, meaning “dove,” was the son of Amittai from Gath-hepher, a city of Zebulon (II Kings 14:25). Gath hepher, “wine press of the well,” is today a “small set of ruins” about three miles north of Nazareth in the Galilee district near Mashhad, Israel. Jonah and Jesus grew up in the same area. There is near this site one of the several purported tombs of the prophet Jonah. He was possibly one of the earliest of the writing prophets following Elisha.

Jonah had apparently prophesied in Israel concerning the restoration of the territory once given to the children of Israel in fulfillment of the prophecy to Abram (Gen. 15:18). This prophecy was first fulfilled in Solomon (I Kings 8:65) and the territory, after having been lost (e.g, II Kings 13:25), was then restored in fulfillment of Jonah’s prophecy (II Kings 14:25). It was only after his successful mission to Israel that the Lord sent Jonah over 500 miles away to Nineveh. It was a mission that Jonah did not want to undertake.

So “Jonah arose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jon. 1:3). Jonah, as a prophet of the Lord, must have known that no man can hide himself from God (Jer. 23:24; Psalm 139:7-10; Heb. 4:12). Indeed, he admits as much (Jon. 1:10-12). But it has been a human reflex to hide from the face of God knowing you have done wrong instead of facing His Holiness and judgment (e.g., Gen. 3:8-10; Rev. 6:15,16). Jonah intended to flee as far as he could from Nineveh in the northeast to Tarshish, in Spain. But his plan was to fail.

With Jonah’s admission that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord (1:10), and his own solution of being cast overboard to spare the ship (1:12), God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah (1:17). For three days and nights Jonah cried out to God from the belly of hell (2:2). His prayer of fear and hope and of terror and trust is recorded in the second chapter of his book. After three days and nights, at God’s word, the great fish vomited Jonah upon dry ground. Jesus used this episode of Jonah’s life to foreshadow His own resurrection from the dead (Matt. 12:40).

Given a new lease on life, Jonah is again commanded by God to go to Nineveh and “preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee” (Jon. 3:1). Instead of fleeing in the opposite direction, this time Jonah heads toward Nineveh and begins to preach “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (3:4). Jonah must have been an effective and persuasive preacher because the people of Nineveh believed God and turned from their evil way (Jon. 3:10). And because they repented and God saw their works, God also repented of the promised destruction (Jon. 3:10).

This should have pleased Jonah. Instead, “it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry” (Jon. 4:2). The commentaries provide a host of possible reasons for Jonah’s anger, but the answer must lie in Jonah’s response: “Therefore I fled before The unto Tarshish: for I knew that Thou are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest Thee of evil” (4:2). Jonah fled because he knew God was merciful. These words suggest that Jonah sought the destruction of Nineveh. Furthermore, God’s words “Should I not spare Nineveh…” suggest the same idea.

The fact that the Lord used the repentance of Nineveh against the Jewish leaders of His day, demonstrates what a poignant example Nineveh had become. Jesus said “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here” (Matthew 12:41). A greater than Jonas is here. Will you repent?

Eric L. Padgett