“When all this actually happened most of the people of Judah had to change their views about how God was going to work out his purpose for them within human history, and fulfill his promises. They had been led astray in their thinking and planning by and interpretation of the Word of God too much in accord with their own self-centered desires. Their scriptures, as they had read them, and their tradition, as they had interpreted it, had seemed to teach them that God’s way of fulfilling his purposes for their nation was to be marked by certain inalienable principles.
The royal line of David was to continue uninterrupted, and indeed undisturbed, till the glorious second David, the promised Messiah, his lineal successor, appeared on his throne in Judea. Under his reign Israel was to experience its triumph and fulfillment as the centre of a great new world commonwealth in which peace and prosperity would flourish for all to enjoy. But till that day came their holy city, Jerusalem, and its temple were to remain standing free and inviolate as they had stood since the great days of David and Solomon as a sign that here God was going to do these great things.
Therefore when it all happened otherwise, and the inviolable city and temple were destroyed, it was hard for them to admit that God’s future for them had been intended to involve humiliation as well as glory, exile and shame as well as security and prosperity. Could God really use a pagan like Nebuchadnezzar in any way as an instrument for their good or for their education? Were they really expected to believe that when they were in his brutal hands they were still in the hands of God?
It was especially hard for them to see their temple ruined its vessels desecrated. They had bowed in awe before what they believed and felt to be the presence of God in that temple where these vessels were put to their exclusive holy use. Their tradition was full of stories which gave warning the no-one would ever be allowed to even lay profane hands on them without incurring dreadful and immediate retribution. But now a heathen monarch had dared, and had been allowed, to do precisely this!
They needed a new theology, and thinking it out was a slow process, involving heart- searching and controversy. The book of Daniel takes us into the world in which such problems were faced and thought through. But besides the problems of a new theology there were those of policy. They were now to live as a small minority group within an environment which they found sometimes threatening, sometimes friendly, but largely alien, to their culture and religious faith."3