Today’s Scripture reading brings us to the conclusion of two historical books of the Old Testament: 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. 2 Kings was penned as a contemporary history of Israel and Judah, while 2 Chronicles is believed to have been written after the Babylonian captivity. In prior devotions I have observed that 1 Kings and 2 Kings appear to have been written from man’s perspective, while 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, are arguably written from God’s perspective.
2 Kings 25 and 2 Chronicles 36 record the siege of Jerusalem and the fall of Judah as a nation. 2 Kings began with Elijah prophesying in Israel (2 Kings 1:4-16), and concludes with the prophet Jeremiah mourning the destruction of the Temple, and the people being led away to Babylon.
2 Kings 25 – The Final Siege of Jerusalem
King Zedekiah, realizing all was lost, fled the city with his guards; however, he made it only as far as Jericho before he was captured (25:4-6). The king of Judah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar to be judged. Found guilty of rebellion, Zedekiah witnessed the dreadful event of seeing his sons’ execution after which he suffered the agony of having his eyes put out. Nebuchadnezzar had the king bound in chains and carried to Babylon (25:7).
The prophecies of God’s judgment against Jerusalem were fulfilled when Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard, “burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem” (25:9), and broke down the walls of the city (25:10). All the vessels of the Temple were taken as spoils of war (25:13-17), and the leaders of any in Judah who might have threatened an uprising were slain (25:11, 18-21). Left behind were the poorest of the people who would serve Babylon as “vinedressers and husbandmen” of the land (25:12).
In the aftermath of Jerusalem’s overthrow, and the exile of all the leaders of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar chose a man named Gedaliah to govern Judah as his proxy (25:22). As we noted in our study of Jeremiah 40-41, a man named Ishmael who was a distant relative of king David, led an uprising against Gedaliah and he was slain (25:23-25). Fearing the wrath of the Chaldees (Babylon, 25:26), the people fled Judah “and came to Egypt (25:26).
Though all seemed lost, a glimmer of hope emerged in the final verses of 2 Kings 25, for Jehoiachin king of Judah, found favor with Evilmerodach king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar’s successor), who elevated the former king of Judah “above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon” (25:28). The king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a change of clothes, fed him, and provided him an allowance, “a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life” (25:29-30).
2 Chronicles 36 gave a brief historical record of a succession of four evil kings who reigned in Judah: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36). Those kings not only failed Judah, but the religious leaders of the nation were guilty as well of leading the people into gross wickedness and idolatry.
We read, “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem” (36:14). God sent prophets who faithfully heralded a warning of His judgment, but the people “mocked the messengers of God, and despised [their] words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (36:16).
God did not forget the wickedness of the leaders who scorned His Word, and brought Nebuchadnezzar “who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary [Temple], and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he [the LORD] gave them all into his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] hand” (36:17).
A Message of Hope (36:21-23)
Jeremiah prophesied when 70 years of captivity were fulfilled, God’s people would return to their land (36:21). Seventy years after Jerusalem was defeated and the Temple was destroyed, we read:
2 Chronicles 36:22-23 – “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 23 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.”
Israel and Judah were gone, but not forgotten! All would be fulfilled in God’s time, for His Word and His promises are sure!
Copyright© 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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