Israel boasted of having title to Abraham as their father and Moses as their great leader. Moses had brought the people out of Egypt in the magnificent Passover and Exodus. He led Israel through the Red Sea and had given them the Law and the Tabernacle.

King Solomon had transformed the Tabernacle into a magnificent Temple in their new homeland. They had the prophets who relayed the very words of God to their leaders. What a legacy!

During a period of circa 500 years from the time of the Exile to Babylon to the coming of Messiah, Israel had experienced a period of silence since she last heard the voices of the prophets or had been subject to her own king.

These are now known as the ‘silent years’.


A short word about Israel’s’ prophets

The last of the prophets’ voices had eventually expired. For some of them, like Ezekiel and Daniel, their message to Israel was received far away from Jerusalem, in Babylon, the nation of their exile.

For others like Ezra, Nehemiah, Zechariah and Malachi, their final message to Judah was preached in Jerusalem as the remnant returned to rebuild its broken walls.

The last kings of her divided kingdom were King Hoshea of Israel in the North circa 720 BC and King Zedekiah of Judah in the South circa 590 BC.

The divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah were without a king during the period of the exile and during these silent years.

The kingship had failed and Israel would remain without a king and will continue to remain without a king until Christ is crowned as her true King of kings and Lord of lords when he returns to this earth to set up his millennial kingdom.

For now though, some 500 years after the exile, Jerusalem had no Israelite king, she was under the rule of the Roman Empire. This would be the setting for the coming of Christ the Messiah, the true King of Israel.

The silence was finally broken during the events that are recorded in the early chapters of the four gospels. The prophetic silence was broken through the voice of John the Baptist as he prepared the way for Jesus the long awaited Messiah; the true King of Israel.

Here in the ancient civilisations of Babylon and Medo-Persia we see the thread continuing through three gentile kings in particular; King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon succeeded by Darius and Cyrus, kings of Medo-Persia.

It is most interesting to see how God communicates with mankind even when his own chosen people have failed him and rejected him and his laws.

Cyrus helps the exiles return

Ezra 1 v 1-4

1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.

3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.

4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’ ”

Artaxerxes sends Nehemiah to Jerusalem

Nehemiah Returns

Rebuilding the walls

Nehemiah 2 v 1-5

1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2 so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill?

This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, 3 but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5 and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favour in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

In the above passages we read about a surviving remnant of Jews who return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and its walls. These would prove to be the first steps in preparing the way for the coming Messiah.

The leaders of Israel had failed in their responsibility to exalt the name of God. However, God used two Gentile Kings to fulfill His will.