2 Kings 24:12–13, 19–20; 25:8–11, 27–30comment (0)
February 24, 2011
By Jay T. Robertson
Related Scripture: 2 Kings 24:12–13, 19–20; 25:8–11, 27–30
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
KEEP HOPE ALIVE
2 Kings 24:12–13, 19–20; 25:8–11, 27–30
When Life’s Treasures Disappear (24:12–13)
King Jehoiakim’s final “service” to his country was to die just in time to let his successors and those he had oppressed face Babylon’s wrath. His son Jehoiachin, an inexperienced 18-year-old, succeeded him. He ruled for only three months in late 598 B.C. and early 597 B.C. He then paid for his father’s political mistakes and his own sins. Nebuchadnezzar himself came to participate in the capture of Jerusalem. Jehoachin was exiled to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar collected his unpaid tribute by raiding the Temple treasury, took Jerusalem’s skilled workers and soldiers captive and appointed Zedekiah as king in Jehoachin’s place. The deportation of such elite citizens must have furthered the disintegration of Judah’s society. Babylon controlled its affairs. The majority of its societal leaders were gone, as was its military. Only a few faithful people, most notably Jeremiah, attempted to change the people’s hearts and the nation’s destiny. Judah’s surviving people were terrified and distressed by the devastating turn of events. None of these events had taken God by surprise. The holy Trinity never meets in emergency session. This disaster occurred just as God had predicted it would.
When God’s Patience Ends (24:19–20)
Zedekiah’s lack of character during his 11-year reign destroyed any chance of even delaying the inevitable. The writer of 2 Kings depicted him as no better than Jehoiakim. Zedekiah oppressed the poor in order to please the powerful in Judah. His indecisiveness and self-interest led him to rebel against Babylon. He joined with Egypt and other nations to rebel against Babylon about 589–588 B.C., but it was only with divided enthusiasm and loyalties. Zedekiah’s people were divided over whether to trust Egypt or obey Babylon. His own self-interest led him to give in to eager army officers and false prophets who promised God’s help for him if he rebelled against Babylon. Unable to stand up to his people, he rebelled. All of these reasons for the fall of Jerusalem pale in comparison to the ultimate reason: God’s patience had ended and He used the Babylonians to accomplish His sovereign purposes.
When Chaos Overwhelms Everyone (25:8–11)
Nebuchadnezzar came with his army to Jerusalem and besieged the city. After more than a year of the siege, the people in Jerusalem ran out of food and the walls were breached. With the city defeated, Nebuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar’s representative, dismantled it. The offense of repeated rebellion meant that looting and partial destruction was insufficient punishment. He torched the Temple, the palace and the people’s homes. He burned every important building in the city. He then deported every notable person. He excused Jeremiah as a special exception (Jer. 40:1–6). Nebuzaradan left a few poor people to tend vineyards and work in the fields. Jeremiah, who witnessed the destruction, lamented, “How the Lord in His anger has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud! He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; He has not remembered His footstool in the day of His anger” (Lam. 2:1). But Jeremiah also was able to say, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’” (Lam. 3:22–24). We must keep our hope alive in God.
When Hopeful Changes Occur (25:27–30)
You may have expected the story to end with Israel and Judah scattered. The nation had been crushed. The land apparently had changed hands. The book, however, ended with Jehoiachin, the king who had ruled three months before being carried off into exile for 37 years, receiving favor from Babylon’s new king. God demonstrated that He was still at work among His exiled people. A light of hope was still flickering in the darkness.