“And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ‘Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation” (Jeremiah 25:11-12 also 29:10).
Daniel’s prayer for restoration
Before God fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecies, He convicted Daniel, who was in the Babylonian exile, that the time of return to Israel and restoration had come (Dan. 9:2). Although the Lord had promised deliverance to His people at the right time, Daniel realized the conditional nature of many of His promises (Jer. 18:7–10). And he feared that ungodly state of God’s people may delay the fulfillment of His promise. So, he confessed the sins of his people and asked for God’s forgiveness.
Faithfully, the Lord answered Daniel’s prayers. And the prophecy of restoration, which was against Babylon, began to be fulfilled. And that took place when “the Medes and Persians” captured the city, killed Belshazzar, and ended the Neo-Babylonian Empire (Dan. 5:17–31). Since the Babylonian captivity had begun in 605 B.C. (Dan. 1:1), the 70 years of Jeremiah’s prophecies expired in 536, according to inclusive reckoning. Therefore, if the decree of Cyrus was issued in the summer or autumn of 537, the Jews probably returned to their homeland in the spring of the following year, 536.
Cyrus used by God
As God had influenced heathen rulers (Gen. 20:3; Dan. 2:28; etc.) to carry out His purposes, He now convicted Cyrus to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah concerning him, prophecies that had been given more than 150 years earlier (Isa. 44:28; 45:1–4, 13)). And Cyrus was used as God’s “servant” to punish the Babylonians (Isa. 44:24 to 45:5). Although God used Babylon to punish His own people, this did not release the nation from punishment due to their own sins (Jer. 50; 51; Isa. 10:5–16).
Thus, the Lord performed His “good word” of mercy and caused His people to return to their country. “For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). Even the captivity of the exiles was for the good of Israel (Jeremiah 24:5–7).
In His service,