2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36
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Today we complete the reading of both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. This means we have completely read 26 out of 66 Books of the Bible…that is more than 1/3rd of the books!! Give yourself a pat on the back or a big hug for such an accomplishment. We started 2 Chronicles at the end of June, 2 Kings at the end of July, and here it is September and we are closing those books. AWWWWEEEESSSOOMMMEEEE!!!
We have a review of our summer reading today. Keep your eyes on God’s PATIENCE and LOVE as we read and remember that we are on THIS side of the CROSS. We are NO LONGER under the LAW but under HIS GRACE because of Jesus Christ. As we review this story let’s look at the WHY, WHEN, WHERE, WHO, WHAT, and HOW.
First let’s look at the WHY was all this happening to Judah, and WHAT was happening? The bottom line was they rebelled and refused to TURN BACK to GOD. Remember Judah and Israel were a unified nation under David many years ago. Then they split into two separate nations. After the split Israel had nothing but BAD kings so they fell into captivity under Assyria about 100-150 years prior to Judah’s captivity under Babylon. Judah had a few good kings who turned things around for awhile, but the kings who did evil in the eyes of The Lord made a nation of stubborn, self-centered, rebellious, people who wanted to live by their own rules and not God’s. God warned Israel for years to TURN BACK TO HIM but they did not. Judah did not seem to take note of the reason for Israel’s fall because they continued down the SAME road (with few exceptions). Bottom line….their OWN actions and CHOICES to SIN, worship idols, build statues to idols, sacrifice children to their idols, and basically “do it their way” rather than God’s way lead to Judah’s exile and captivity by Babylon.
Today we flash back all the way to 612 BC, and this begins to point to the WHEN. However, Nebuchadnezzar took control as king of Babylon in 605 BC, so he took some time before he launched his first attack against Judah. We witnessed Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt each strive to be THE WORLD POWER. Although we are talking about who is in power these nations (and Judah) were the WHERE of this story. Interestingly these three nations make a triangle with the Promised Land right on the middle. Egypt was the first world power and was joined by Assyria which slowly, bit by bit took over a HUGE area with their very cruel ways. Most recently Babylon first took Assyria and then the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish. After that, the Babylonians went after control of Judah. This was attack 1 of 3 on God’s people. With each invasion more captives, and more things were taken. (When we read Daniel, we will come back to this first invasion since scholars believe this is when Daniel was taken).
Let’s take a look at the WHO of the story. Some of the names of the characters in our history are:
Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon
Pharaoh Neco was from Egypt
King Jehoiakim (did evil in the Lord’s eyes) was from Judah and was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in the first attack, served him for three years then rebelled and was killed.
Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin (also did evil in the eyes of The Lord), reigned for 3 months then surrendered to King Nebuchadnezzar in Nebuchadnezzar’s 2nd invasion.
The second and third invasion occurred and the temple was raided. Most of the leaders, including the king, were taken captive. The Babylonians and Assyrians differed in their policies for taking captives. The Assyrians moved most the captives OUT and resettled in the land with foreigners. The Babylonians took ONLY the strong, the skilled, the people of influence and left the poor and weak to rule the land. Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah (of Judah and another son of Josiah) on the throne of Judah. Before Zedekiah became the King of Judah his name was Mattaniah but Nebuchadnezzar changed his name to Zedekiah. Since King Jehoiakin was in captivity and not dead, the Jews did not respond or recognize Zedekiah as their king. (NOW … it makes a LOT of sense why Zedekiah was a man without a spine in our reading yesterday…..he listened to Jeremiah, then told the people who wanted to Jeremiah to do so, and then okayed Jeremiah’s rescue!! BUT knowing the background makes his actions more understandable…..one King of Judah had been killed, one was still alive in captivity, and Zedekiah was appointed by the King of Babylon…..I’d say he was under a little pressure and probably afraid for his life….but isn’t that what happens when we do not maintain a close relationship with God?) While in captivity and exile, the people of Judah were allowed to live together, find jobs, and become an important part of the society. This policy kept the Jews united and faithful to God all the years of captivity. It also made it possible for their return in the days of Zerubbabel and Ezra. The Babylonians did however leave a REMNANT of people behind and did not take all of them into captivity. Nebuchadnezzar left the poor and the weak in their land, assuming they would be under his authority. This was ALL part of God’s big plan.
Sadly, after Zedekiah had to see his sons killed they gauged out his eyes and took him captive, so Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as a governor over the land since he was faithful to Babylon…but he didn’t last too long….. assassinated.
A very sad moment in the destruction of Judah was: “On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.”
The burning down of the Temple and the royal palace….went back to David’s time. David built the royal palace and Solomon built the Temple. Do you remember how beautiful if was. Although it had been ravaged several times under several of Judah’s Kings, I could not help but feel a huge loss when it all was totally destroyed. God often takes things in our lives that are precious to us…..but HIS provisions are still there.
Finally we meet Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Evil-Merodach (WHAT a NAME, right?) who became king in Babylon in 562, 24 years after the captivity began. He was actually a nice king, even allowing officials to dine with him and releasing Jehoiachim, but his brother in law killed him and succeeded the throne.
The HOW is actually tied in with the WHY. How did it happen? It happened because God had warned HIS people over and over to TURN BACK to HIM. God was VERY patience with both Judah and Israel. Judah was attacked 3 times, each time with years of warnings for repentance. Israel too was not taken in a single swipe, they too were invaded 3 times, God gives the ones He loves so many opportunities to repent before HE has no other choice but to exile us in order to get our attention.
When we read Lamentations we are going to read about what it must have been like for Jeremiah to see all this happening. What would you have written if you were Jeremiah?
In Summary, we started this Summer with the prophet Elijah and we end with Captivity. The next 40 days will be the ending our reading of the Old Testament. I pray you will desire to dig deep in these books because I know God has treasures that will speak personally to you as a message from God. Be obedient as to what HE is telling you, and trust HIM to keep HIS promises. HIS love and HIS Word endure FOREVER!!
Sharing HIS love,