The above chart shows the stages Israel going into captivity in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and eventually being given permission to return in the days of Cyrus (536 or 537 BC) – [this is shown by the top half], followed by Israel's return to the land of promise during our Lord's Second Advent [shown by the bottom half of the chart.]
Let's begin by looking at the first 19 year period.
The Period Leading up to The Times of the Gentiles
Most of the brethren are quite familiar with the date 606 BC as being the date when Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, took the Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, captive along with the remainder of the people. This began what we term "The Period of Desolation" of the land, a period of 70 years. But this was not the beginning of their going into captivity. For some (like Daniel) their captivity actually began 19 years earlier in the year 625 BC at the time of the first Babylonian invasion. King Nebuchadnezzar at that time took land from Judah as well as carried away some captives to Babylon (it was likely this or the next one where Daniel was taken.) This initial invasion by Nebuchadnezzar took place in the 4th year of year of King Jehoiakim (Jer. 25:1, 9
The second invasion takes place 8 years later at which time King Nebuchadnezzar sets up Zedekiah as king over Judah.
While this account is recorded for us in 2 Kings 24
, that chapter may sound a bit misleading. When reading it we should keep in mind that Nebuchadnezzar began his reign in the 4th year of Jehoiakim's reign. One other item not generally noticed by the brethren. In our list of the Kings as found in Volume II Study II (Bible Chronology) one king is left out. It lists the last two kings of Judah as being Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, each reigning 11 years. For the purposes of Bible Chronology this is correct. However there was one additional king between these two, i.e., King Jehoiakin who reigned for only three months. These facts are helpful when reading the account in 2 Kings 24
The reign of King Zekekiah lasted for 11 years after which King Nebuchadnezzar carries away the children of Israel captive to Babylon, destroys the city of Jerusalem and burns the temple.
The Seventy Years Desolation of the Land
These 70 years were not to be worked so that "the land shall enjoy her sabbaths." – Lev. 26:43
We may also remember from our Second Volume study on the Jubilees that the 70 was to be the total number of Sabbaths for the land. Israel kept these Sabbaths (Jubilee celebrations) in a half-hearted manner for 19 cycles. That meant there were 51 cycles or Sabbaths yet to be kept. Therefore we see in our chart the 70 year period is divided into two periods of 19 and 51 years.
So we have 4 dates as follows:
625 BC – Israel loses land and has its population reduced ("carried away captive to Babylon.")
617 BC – 8 yrs later Israel loses more land and population.
606 BC – 11 years later Israel goes into captivity and the land "rests" for 70 years until
536 BC – when the decree of Cyrus was issued.
After the Arrival of Israel's True King
Now let us look at the time of our Lord's return and see how this pattern shows up. This time the major cycles (19 years and 70 years) are reversed while the sub-cycles (8 and 11 for the first and 19 and 51 for the second) remain the same.
In 1878 the time to favor Zion is come and Israel begins its return to the promised land. This begins a half-hearted attempt to return.
In 1897 (19 years after 1878) comes the First Zionist Congress and now the push to re-settle in the land of promise takes on a more zealous tone.
Now complete the major cycle of 70 years. From 1878 we add 70 years and that brings us to 1948 and the birth of the modern state of Israel.
This begins the 19 year cycle. The U.N. had declared certain territories to be for Arabs and others for Jews. At that time Israel had to fight for its land and a significant number of immigrants came in to the land. So in 1948 Israel gained both land and people.
Now go forward 8 years and we come to 1956 and the Suez Crisis. Once again Israel had to fight and the result was they gained more land and again a high rate of immigration.
The cycles are completed 11 years later in 1967 with the Six-day War. Israel has large territorial gains and again it is a peek year for immigration.
Summarizing Israel's return in the days of its True King:
1878 – Israel's "double" is up and a half-hearted attempt to return to the land begins.
1897 – The First Zionist Congress takes place and now the return to the land has focus and energy.
1948 – Statehood.
1956 – Suez Crisis.
1967 – Six Day War.