The End of the Kingdom of Judah
Comments for Study 16
2 Kings 23:31-25:30
Memory Verse: 24:20
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I. Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, Evil Kings (23:31-24:7)
* See a map of Nebuchadnezzar Conquest of Jerusalem in 597 BC to the right. (NIV Study Bible)
>1. How was Jehoahaz's life summarised? (31-32)
* 2 Kings 23:31-32 "Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.
32 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done."
* Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and perhaps Nahum were prophets during Jehoahaz's reign. Huldah was also the prophetess. (22:13)
* Jehoahaz's reign is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:1-4.
* 2 Kings 23:29-35 is similar to 2 Chronicles 35:20 thru 36:4.
* Josiah reigned from 640 to 609 BC, 31 years according to the Hebrew calendar. During all this time he had done so much spiritual cleansing and reform in Judah and that which was left of the kingdom of Israel.
Then Josiah did a foolish thing. He left Jerusalem to attach the Egyptian army. What lead him to attack Necho, the king of Egypt? Necho's army was not attacking Judah. They were just passing by Judah. They were not even close to Jerusalem So why did Josiah do this?.
The passage clearly says, "(Josiah) would not listen to what Necho had said AT GOD'S COMMAND but went to fight him..." God had told Necho to come to the aid of Assyria who was being attacked by Babylon. The battle would have also protected Judah. Still, Josiah went to attack the Egyptian army anyway. Why? Josiah was foolish when he did this. Why?
Josiah did not seek God's will. That's why. He didn't do so even when Necho had said to Josiah that God had told him to help Assyria fight Babylon. Why didn't even Josiah's curiosity pick up enough to seek the Lord when Necho said, "...God told me to hurry, so stop opposing God who is with me, or he will destroy you"? The passage does not say Josiah ever went to the Lord even once at this time. Why didn't he seek God's will in this?
Perhaps, it is because as 2 Kings 23:27 says, "...I (the Lord) will reject Jerusalem..." God had stated his plan for Jerusalem, and now his plan was coming thru.
And most likely Josiah didn't seek Gods will at this time out of spiritual pride. He was simply arrogantly thinking God does not interact and talk to Gentiles.
Spiritual pride is a virus that is in all, those who follow Jesus too. The disciples told Jesus about a man who was not one of them and yet was telling others about Jesus. They wanted that kind of nonsense to stop. Jesus said, "No. Don't stop him. He who is not against us is for us."
Jesus is the only way to God. And God works uniquely in everyone so that all can come to accept this truth. God can and does give messages to anyone and all. How else will anyone come to faith if he didn't for we all fall short of the glory of God and are born with the sinful nature? So God can and does speak to everyone, even me before I knew him too.
I am foolish to think God does not give commands and direction and his word to others simply because they do not go to my church, do not do what I do, and even if they do not confess the name of Jesus. I am to test every spirit, and also keep an open humble mind recognizing that God may be giving messages to others as well.
>What did the Pharaoh Neco of Egypt do? (33-35)
* 2 Kings 23:33-35 "Pharaoh Neco put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died. Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Neco the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments."
* Israel was defeated by Egypt (south west of Israel) in 609 B.C. (2 Ki. 23:33,34) Egypt made Jehoiakim king of Judah. (2 Ki. 23:33,34).
* 2 Kings 23:27 records the Lord's judgement on Jerusalem even though Josiah conducted religion reforms and encouraged personal repentance. The prophet who brought the judgement is not listed in verse 27. Four main prophets are recorded in the Bible as living and preaching during Josiah's region; Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Nahum. Nahum declared Nineveh's fall. Habakkuk spoke of Babylon's invasion. Zephaniah predicted Judah's fall. Jeremiah predicted the fall of Jerusalem. Daniel and Ezekiel would be called by the Lord when Judah went into exile. Any of the four could have delivered word for word the judgement found in 23:27. The next few days I plan on looking at Habakkuk and Zephaniah.
Some history that sheads light these years.
Thebes was destroyed at the hands of Ashurbanipal''s Assyrian army in 663 B.C. Judah had lost much of its cities and fortresses at the hands of the Assyrians.
Assyrian king Ashurbanipal died in 627 B.C. leading to Assyrian's quick fall as the Middle East's power house. The brief freedom from their enemy may have made Judah believe the prophecies about their coming destruction were not true. The Lord through Zephaniah and Habakkuk would try to correct that view.
In the 620s B.C. the Scythians (outlandish barbarians) invaded Canaan. They came quickly on horses from land just north of then Assyria (modern southern Russia). They destroyed the Philistine cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, going along the Mediterranean Sea and right past Judah. They went as far as the Egyptian boarder who paid them off to stop them from destroying them. The appearance of a new powerful force from seemingly nowhere provided the backdrop to Zephaniah's prophecy.
Nineveh fell in 612 B.C. in the middle of Josiah's reign at the hands of the Babylonians. Prophets like Micah generations earlier had predicted that Babylon would be God's hand of judgment against Judah.
In 609 B.C., three years after Nineveh fell Josiah, Judah's king was so confident of Judah's success he attacked Egypt whose army was moving northward to engage in war in the land of Assyria. Egypt didn't want to battle with Judah. But Judah's king didn't back off and engaged Egypt in battle. Judah lost and became subject to Egypt. Josiah died because of the battle. Jerusalem was spared again from invasion.
For several years at this time Egypt and Babylon battled each other hoping to gain control of the entire Middle East.
In 605 B.C. Babylon attacked and defeated Egypt at the battle of Carchemish (2 Kings 24:1-7) making Judah subject to Babylon. After the battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar, as crown prince of Babylon, advanced to Jerusalem and then quickly left for Babylon to be crowned king when his father died. Then he returned to Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar spared King Jehoiakim, who had rebelled against him when he left to be made king. However, Nebuchadnezzar carried off several of the princes of Judah, among them was Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
More interesting facts.
Zephaniah prophecies started during Josiah's reign. (1:1) Josiah reigned the Kingdom of Judah from 640-609 B.C. Zephaniah's prophecies probably continued through the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal''s death in 627 B.C. Though Zephaniah ministry continued probably into the exile, his written prophecies end at Jerusalem's fall.
After Ashurbanipal's death Assyrian's quick fall as the region's power house seemed like the beginning of a time of new peace and expansion for Judah. King Josiah was able to gain control over parts of Samaria. (2 Kings 23:15-20) When the remains of the Philistines were defeated by a formerly unknown people from a region north of Assyria, Judah gained control of former Philistine territory. (2:4-7; Isaiah 14:28-32; Jer. 47; Amos 1:6-8; Zech. 9:5-7) Few Judean believed that Babylon would defeat first Assyria, then the Egyptians, and finally Judah.
* See a map of Nebuchadnezzar Conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BC to the right. (NIV Study Bible)
>What must have it been like to live in Judah at this time?
* God had made a conditional covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai, after he led them out of Egypt. They continually broke the covenant. God did not. From God's point of view he was using the captivity to punish Israel and Judah.
* 2 Kings 23:31 thru 24:7 and 2 Chronicles 36:1-4 record the same events. The prophet Jeremiah also records much of what happened during these years. Jeremiah was one of four of the prophets whose words are still with us from this time. I will begin looking at the Lord's words thru him next. Daniel was taken into exile during Jehoiakim's reign.
The Kingdom of Judah experience much confusion, turmoil and suffering when king Josiah died after the battle against Egypt. The battle resulted due to his foolish prideful error of attacking Egypt. He did not seek the Lord's will, he died, and all of Judah and remnants of Israel suffered.
The people made Josiah eldest son, Jehoahaz king. Egypt had gone off to assist Assyria in their fight against Babylon when they did this. When Egypt came back after the season for wars ended they exercised their power over Judah and made Jehoahaz's brother ruler in his place. When Pharaoh did this he changed the name of Judah's new ruler to Jehoiakim and extracted taxes from Judah.
What was it like to live in such turmoil and change? What do God's believers do when so much happens around them that they have a hard time keeping track of all of it and little experience to help them deal with it?
The last few years for me have been an experience of more and more swings of extremes; moving from one state to another and then another. Selling a home, buying another, and then selling the one I just bought. Living in a hotel for 3 months, a friends apartment and then renting a house in between moves. Leaving one job, then another, then a temporary job, then starting a new one. Then there's living in a country experiencing the effects of the most political and social unrest that I have ever experienced in my life. And of course there is the pandemic with all the changes that go along with it. I've watch my children go through the stages of turning into adults. Giving away some of what I owned, selling and throughing away more of it, and then having a moving company misplace what little remained to this day. Finally, I went through a major eye surgery in July.
2 Kings and 2 Chronicles only records the facts. They give no insight as to how God's people dealt with such dramatic change and turmoil. I thank God that other Biblical books do give helpful direction. Yet more than that, I am so full of gratitude of the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, the Advocate. Jesus told his troubled disciples before his arrest, "If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you... But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John chapter 14.
>2. How was Jehoiakim's life summarised? (36-37)
* 2 Kings 23:36-37 "Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah.
37 And he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his fathers had done."
* Jehoiakim's reign is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:5-8.
* Babylon (north east of Israel) attacked and defeated Egypt in 605 B.C. (2 Ki. 24:1-7) This brought Babylonian influence to Judah (and Israel). However, Judah was allowed to maintained their national, spiritual, and cultural identity. Jehoiakim, the king of Israel attacked Babylon in 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar defeated them and tightened his control over Judah. One of the things he did was to take around 10,000 selected captives. Among these including Daniel and his friends (Daniel 1:1) and even the prophet Ezekiel. The captivity lasted 70 years dating from Nebuchadnezzar's first decent on Judah and Egypt.
* Assyria ruled the Mideast until Babylon defeated them a few years before Judea was taken into captivity. Babylon's rule over the Mideast ended when the Persian Empire defeated them. The Persian Empire was larger than Assyria and Babylon's Empires. The Persian Empire was an alliance of the Medes and the Persians. Under their rule the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland.
* This was the end of David's offspring earthly kingdom. In fact no Israelite or Jew reigned over Israel until 1948 A.D.
>Who invaded Judah? (24:1; Jer. 46:2)
* 2 Kings 24:1 "During Jehoiakim's reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar."
* Jeremiah 46:2 "Concerning Egypt: This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:"
* Nebuchadnezzar might have thought that he could defeat Isreal so easily because their God was weak. He did not know the truth. Even thought he thought like this God did not exclude him from being an instrument in bringing about his plan.
* "Nebuchadnezzar" -Nebuchadnezzar (634–562 B.C.) was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, who reigned 605 B.C.–562 B.C. The Akkadian name means "O god Nabu, preserve/defend my firstborn son". Nabu is the Babylonian deity of wisdom, and son of the god Marduk. In an inscription, Nebuchadnezzar styles himself as Nabu's "beloved" and "favourite". Nebuchadnezzar was the oldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, who delivered Babylon from its three centuries of vassalage to its fellow Mesopotamian state Assyria, and in alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians and Cimmerians, laid Nineveh in ruins. During the last century of Nineveh's existence, Babylon had been greatly devastated, not only at the hands of Sennacherib and Assurbanipal, but also as a result of her ever renewed rebellions. Nebuchadnezzar, continuing his father's work of reconstruction, aimed at making his capital one of the world's wonders.
* 2 Kings 24:1-11 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-10 is the same event. Daniel 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 21-24 also records these events.
King Jehoiachin was king Jehoiakim's son. Jehoiachin's uncle was soon to be king Zedekiah, who was king Josiah's son. King Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiakim mysteriously died when Nebuchadnezzar's army arrived because he rebelled. Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he became king when his father died. He surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar after 3 months of being king, perhaps heedingto Jeremiah word.
King Jehoiachin's father had rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had sent his generals and officials to invade Judah. They surrounded Jerusalem a second time.
Jehoiachin did evil in the sight of God. He reigned 3 months. The passage indicates that his mother was a bad influence during his short reign. Then he surrendered.
Nebuchadnezzar defeated Judah again. This is when Jehoiachin, Daniel, and Ezekiel were taken to Babylon along with much of the riches of Judah and the temple goods.
The average person in Judah suffered for their sinful ways as the Lord had warned. The righteousness suffered too. I cannot believe that harm won't come my way just because I believe in Jesus. Yet God is doing all things for the good of those who believe. I can trust him.
* See an engraving on an eye stone of onyx with an inscription of Nebuchadnezzar II to the right.
>Even though Nebuchadnezzar allowed Jehoiakim to rule Judah what was must have his reign been like? (2-4)
* 2 Kings 24:2-4 "The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.
3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD's command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done,
4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive."
>How extensive was Nebuchadnezzar's power? (5-7)
* 2 Kings 24:5-7 "As for the other events of Jehoiakim's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
6 Jehoiakim rested with his fathers. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.
7 The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River."
II. Judah and Jerusalem Thrust From the Lord's Presence (24:7-20)
>3. When Babylon defeated them the first time did young Jehoiachin repent? (8-12)
* 2 Kings 24:8-12 "Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem.
9 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done.
10 At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it,
11 and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it.
12 Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner."
* Daniel 1:1 "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it."
* Jehoiachin's reign is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:9-10.
* See a carving of Babylonian soldiers on horses to the right.
>How does this explain Nebuchadnezzar's return?
>How did the Lord fulfill his word through a Gentile pagan? (13-14)
* 2 Kings 24:13-14 "As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD.
14 He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans--a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left."
* Daniel 1:2 "And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god."
>Who did Nebuchadnezzar place in charge of Judah and what did he change his name to? (15-17)
* 2 Kings 24:15-17 "Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king's mother, his wives, his officials and the leading men of the land.
16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand craftsmen and artisans.
17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah."
* Daniel 1:3-7 "Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility--
4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.
6 Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego."
>4. Did Zedekiah repent? (18-19)
* 2 Kings 24:18-19 "Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.
19 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done."
* 2 Kings 24:18-20 and 2 Chronicles 36:11-14 record the same things.
* The summary of Zedekiah's reign in these verses mark the kind of person I don't want to be; stiff necked, hard heart, and refusing to turn to the Lord. 2 Chronicles states he, "did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord." These have something in common, they are decisions I can make every day, every moment.
Jesus told a parable about a farmer sowing seeds on 4 types of soil; hard, thorny, shallow, and rich. The first three are unproductive. The last produces crop. The soils represent my heart and mind. Zedekiah was like the first 3 at different times. I want to produce a crop. So I need to decide every day to let the Holy Spirit work his miracle with Jesus's word in my heart. And if I find I am like Zedekiah, then I need to change my attitude. Its my choice.
>What did the prophet Jeremiah tell him? (Jer. 21:3-7)
* Jeremiah 21:3-7 "But Jeremiah answered them, "Tell Zedekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am about to turn against you the weapons of war that are in your hands, which you are using to fight the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them inside this city. I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in anger and fury and great wrath. I will strike down those who live in this city--both men and animals--and they will die of a terrible plague. After that, declares the LORD, I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the people in this city who survive the plague, sword and famine, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to their enemies who seek their lives. He will put them to the sword; he will show them no mercy or pity or compassion.'"
* 2 Kings 24:20 "It was because of the LORD's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon."
* 2 Chronicles 36:11-17a and 2 Kings 24:20-25:2 with details of this time recorded in Jeremiah 34:1-7, 37:1-10, 34:8-22, 37:11-38:13 (chronological order listed). Ezekiel 24 is about this too.
These verses recall the beginning of the final siege of Jerusalem and Judah's other remaining 3 strongholds. Judah's fall and the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is a little over 2 years away. The year is 583 BC.
I look at these verses trying to understand who king Zedekiah was. Recently I exchanged emails with a friend and brother in Christ. One of the subject matters, not the main one, was evil. He used evil to define a person. I cannot recall ever reading in the Bible someone being defined as an evil person. Instead, the Bible defines evil as the description of a life style against God's purpose as he defines and dictates. The Bible says of Zedekiah and others, "He DID evil in the eyes of the Lord," not that Zedekiah was evil.
Everyone is made in the image of God and everyone has distorted and made themselves impure by the choice of sin. Sin is an act that results from a heart and mindset that all is born with, our sin nature. Jesus said this is what makes me unclean, and I like everyone naturally chose to follow my sin nature. This is evil.
Zedekiah was like this, a person impulsively driven to defile the perfect image of God he was intended to be. What made him evil was not who he was. Rather, its what he chose to do. He chose to follow the wrong compulsions of the sin nature instead of God's will for his life. People today are saying others are evil people, when not even God says that of anyone. Jesus didn't say that of Judas, Pilate, and the high priest who betrayed him and had him crucified were evil.
So what are evil acts that I should avoid? The Bible records a lot about Zedekiah's evil actions. Through this I can learn some evil acts I should completely avoid.
2 Chron. 36 says he disobeyed the word of God. He refused to listen to Jeremiah whom the Lord sent. It also says, "Zedekiah was stubborn and refused to turn back to the Lord God of Israel." He broke a promise to Nebuchadnezzar that he made in the Lord's name. And 2 Chron. 36 says he allowed the priests to make "the Lord's holy temple unfit for worship." Have I made myself, the new temple of God unfit for worship?
Jer. 37:1-10 says Zedekiah did not pay any attention to the Lord his God. He refused to change his ways. Then when the Babylonians briefly left the city to fight Egypt, he believed he was vindicated, even though Jeremiah told him his future would end in Babylon. Being stubborn he futher blockaded his heart against God.
Jeremiah 34:8 to the end says he enslaved, released, and then enslaved others again. His actions were in directly violation of God's word.
Jeremiah 37:11 to its end says that he allowed Jeremiah to be beaten and imprisoned, released, but then relented and put him in a cistern as a prison as recorded in chapter 38.
Zedekiah's evil actions are ones that I should avoid. I should not had a cold hard heart like Zedekiah.
III. Judah Taken Into Captivity (25:1-30)
* The painting to the right showing Judah being taken into captivity as Jerusalem burns was in Bibles and is now in public domain.
>5. What was Babylon's siege like against Jerusalem? (1-3)
* 2 Kings 25:1-3 "So in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.
2 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
3 By the ninth day of the [fourth] month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat."
* 2 Chronicles 36:11-20, 2 Kings 25:1-21, and Jeremiah 39:1-14 and 52 record the fall of Jerusalem and Judah in 586 BC.
Looking at the history of Israel and Judah have parallels between now and then. I saw myself like the prophets who knew the truth of what was happening and about to happen. Few believed them, didn't want to hear them, told them not to speak, ridiculed them, and mocked them. I was sad for that generation and mine. Now I read about the horrible fall of Jerusalem.
Covid19 is like the Babylonians, an enemy that continues to raise havic in everyone's lives. People hold onto hope that a mask, clean hands, and a vaccine will save them like the Judeans believed that Assyria and Egypt would save them from their enemy. Judah could not accept that the enemy was not the Babylonians as covid19 is not the enemy.
Judeans had a form of worship but did not love nor fear the one true God. The same as my generation. Believe it or not many of the Judeans religious practices are like my generations religious practices. If they attend, they go in but leave unchanged.
Like my generation, Judeans were selfish, greedy, self righteous, haughty, liers, adulterous, and contemptuous. They had false humility. They were proud. They believed as God's people they would be raptured from the tribulation. God loved them so they told themselves. So they believed he would not do that to them. The enemy would not touch them.
Babylon was not the enemy. Covid19 is not the enemy. The left is not the enemy. The right is not the enemy. Black and white are not the enemy. Rich and poor are not the enemy. My neighbors are not my enemy. My boss is not my enemy. Those who have harmed me are not the enemy. Who was and is the enemy?
The Lord told Judeans who was the enemy. They were the enemy. The enemy is me. The enemy is inside me. The enemy is my sinful nature. The enemy is my unclean thoughts. They enemy is unchecked emotions. The enemy is my selfishness, my greediness, my self righteousness, my haughtiness, my lies, my adulterous mind, and my contemptuous heart. My duplicity is my enemy.
Why did Jerusalem fall? Why do these terrible things happen? Who should I battle? Who should I subdue? Who should I conquer? Me, that's why and that's who.
Alas, I try. But I cannot win. However, I can do as the Lord told the Israelites and Judeans. I can have the Lord fight the battle for me. He can fight the enemy within. Holy Spirit search my heart. Give me the courage and strength to change my thoughts, ways, and will. Make me like you. Forgive me. I am a sinner. I am the cause of all these bad things. Have mercy on me. Cleanse me with the blood. Fill me with the Spirit. Show me your will and give me the power and will to accept it.
>Was Judah's king able to excape the Lord's wrath? (4-6)
* 2 Kings 25:4-6 "Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king's garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah,
5 but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered,
6 and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him."
>Did his sons survive?
* 2 Kings 25:7 "They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon."
>6. Why was it important that Jerusalem be burned? (8-9)
* 2 Kings 25:8-9 "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.
9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down."
>Who were the only Jews allowed to remain in Judah? (10-12)
* 2 Kings 25:10-12 "The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon.
12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields."
>Will something similar happen again when the Antichrist sets up the abomination that causes desolation? (Dan. 9:26-27, 11:31-35, 12:11-12; Matt. 24:15-22)
* Daniel 9:26-27 "After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one 'seven.' In the middle of the 'seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him"."
* Daniel 11:31-35 "His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him. Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time."
* Daniel 12:11-12 "From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days."
* Matthew 24:15-22 "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand-- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."
>7. What happened to the temple? (13-17)
* 2 Kings 25:13-17 "The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon.
14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service.
15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls--all that were made of pure gold or silver.
16 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed.
17 Each pillar was twenty-seven feet high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was four and a half feet high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar."
>What had happened to the leaders and elders of Judah? (18-21)
* 2 Kings 25:18-21 "The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.
19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city.
20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.
21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land."
>How should this be a warning to leaders today?
* The painting to the right shows Judah's leaders being gathered together so they can be taken into captivity to Babylon. This was in Bibles and is now in public domain.
>8. What advice was given the poor who was left in Judah? (22-24)
* 2 Kings 25:22-24 "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah.
23 When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah--Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite, and their men.
24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. "Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials," he said. "Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you."
* Jeremiah 40 and 2 Kings 25:22-24 record this event.
Jeremiah was chained and being brought to Babylon when the Babylonian commander found him and released him. He allowed Jeremiah to go anywhere, but encouraged him to stay with the newly appointed governor of Judah. So Jeremiah stayed with the governor.
The Lord was still giving Jeremiah his word, though nowhere do I see anyone, not even the governor inquiring of the Lord. No one asked Jeremiah what new word had he received from God. They stayed away from Jeremiah.
I assume that most Jews considered Jeremiah an enemy of Judah. Some may have blamed him for what happened. Like Jesus on the night he was arrested, Jeremiah was alone. Jeremiah entered Jerusalem as it was burning. The temple was destroyed, smoke rising where it had stood. Jeremiah had been right, and I assume he wish that he was wrong. He knew the people would return. But not in his lifetime. He knew the Lord had good plans for Israel, but not today.
What was Jeremiah thinking and feeling? This is revealed in the book Lamentations. He was depressed. Of all the books of the Bible, Lamentations is one I do not like to read. Who does? I will read it today. But I doubt I will be able to finish it. Though next in chronological sequence I don't know if I will do DB on the book of Lamentations. It is so depressing.
I can relate to Jeremiah, though not today. So many people are alone because others fear becoming sick with covid19. Good men and woman sit in their homes scorning others who do not where masks and feel for those they know are lonely from the comfort of their home with their spouses sitting next to them. Tomorrow many will be alone on Christmas day, sad and depressed. Many are so alone and depressed that they have taken their life during these months of isolation. I hope not tomorrow. What can I do? I am new to this area? Who can I help? With these words I hope I can help. I can share my own times of loneliness and depression and what I learned about how to get through it. Perhaps I can help from afar.
Through different periods of my life I have been so alone, most recently last summer. I was alone in a crowd, leaving meetings alone. I would go to an empty quiet home after work. I would go to bed alone. I would awake alone. Well wishers would say, "The Lord is with you." as if they knew. Then they would go on their way to family and spouces. Serveral times in my life I was so alone and depressed.
I knew the Lord is with me always in those times, as people would tell me. But I thought, "I cannot see him, nor touch him, nor have a conversation with him. Though I talk to him and am moved by the Spirit, I become in need of companionship. And Lord himself said of Adam who walked with the Lord in the garden, 'It is not good for man to be alone.'" I would say this to good men and woman who said, "The Lord is with you." They could give no reply.
Some are in great need of quiet time alone, but so many more are in need of a solution to lonely depression today. How many mothers of young children long for a long heartfelt conversation with an adult? How many alcoholics stare at a bottle they try to resist alone? How many elderly weep in their apartments? How many in slavery have no one to turn to? How many widow and widower will spend a Christmas alone for the first time? How many spouse of an alcoholic or drug addict are laying on the floor crying not knowing where their spouse is? How many teenagers want to die?
I have many reasons to be alone and depressed today. Here is what I have done and continue to do to counter these.
I have admitted my powerlessness over all that ales me including depression and loneliness, and that my life had become unmanageable. I believe that God can restore me and give me the strength and a will to live. I make a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand him at that time knowing that my understanding of God is limited and incomplete.
I pray to find those who have overcome and are willing to help.
I make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. I admit to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. I am entirely ready for God to remove all these defects of character. I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings through the blood of Jesus.
I make a list of all the people I have harmed and be one willing to make amends to them all. I make direct amends except in it may harm them.
Daily I take personal inventory admitting when I am wrong. Daily I pray, meditate, stating out loud alone gratitudes, and do DB seeking his will for me and the Holy Spirit power to carry it out. I make a simple daily routine to ensure I do these.
I pray and seek to help others with no desire for no self benefit. When others seek to break my serenity I pray to turn the other cheek.
I have spend 57 years, as of 2 days from now, on this earth. I have come to the point of suicide several times in these years. When I was just out of high school I knew none of these things. No one told me these. If they did, I didn't hear nor remember. Several times back then I wanted to die. I cried out to God as I understood him asking for help.
Then one day God compelled me to order a book advertised for free on TV, "Power For Living" by Jamie Buckingham given through Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation. The book gave me the points listed above. It was the beginning of life, of change, of spiritual education and revelation, of hope. It told me in slightly different words to admit my powerlessness over all that ales me including depression and loneliness, and accept that my life had become unmanageable. It told me to believe that God can restore me and give me the strength and a will to live. It told me to make a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understand him at that time knowing that my understanding of God is limited and incomplete. It told me I was special to God and how to get right with God.
I own so little now. But I have kept two copies of this short booklet. I still get depressed and still find times of loneliness. God has proven to me again and again that I can have hope.
>How did Jesus teach us to live when under the rule of oppressive governments? (Matt. 22:17-21)
* Matthew 22:17-21 "Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
>9. Why might Nethaniah kill those Babylon had put in charge of Judah? (25-26)
* 2 Kings 25:25-26 "In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah.
26 At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians."
* Jeremiah 41 and 2 Kings 25:25-26 recored the same event.
The Lord had sent the Babylonians to punish his people. Nebuchadnezzar had taken many people to Babylon, burned Judah's cities, including Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. He put Gedaliah in charge as governor. Gedaliah was not a descendant of David. He was warned of an assassination. He didn't believe it. He was wrong.
Ishmael had royal blood. He killed the governor. Then he killed 80 who perhaps he thought were of Babylon's government in Judah because they did not have beards. He took young woman of royal blood as captives. He wanted to rule Judah. He and the men with him had not accepted that everything that had happened to Judah was punishment for their sin. When things went bad for them, they fleed Judah. He was wrong.
Neither Ishmael nor Gedaliah sought the Lord's will. They just acted as they saw fit. They made wrong decisions.
How can I know the Lord's will for me? How can I be sure I do as he wants? I had read devotionals, sat in studies, and listened to messages on the subject. They say I should pray, meditate, perhaps fast, not go against God's word in the Bible, and to seek advice from mature people who love God and know his word.
I could stay stuck at this point, always seeking, and not making decisions. That would be wrong. Not acting is not faith. Faith is only completed when I act on it. Eventually, I make a decision and act on it praying, "Lord, your will be done. I know your will is best for me. If this is your will, then open the doors that need to be opened. And close the doors that I am to not go through." People call this, "putting out the fleece. "
The interesting thing about this prayer is I know that many times God's will is a road not often and not easily traveled. A life lived by faith is not easy. Sacrifices are often in the decisions made by faith. Otherwise, they would not take faith. Jesus said that I will have troubles in this world, but I am to take heart for he has overcome the world. And none of the prophets nor apostles had easy care free lives, nor did Jesus. Most were poor, not rich as some prosperity preachers teach. Hebrews 11:35-38.
Not only that, when I reach the conclusion and destination things often aren't easier nor perfect nor desirable. New decisions are needed to be made that are just as unclear and confusing and hard as the previous decisions.
Another truth is that when decisions are made according to this way Satan often tries to interfere. For example,, when Jesus started for Jerusalem knowing he would be tortured several people including Peter told him not to go. The charactor Christian in the book Pilgrims Progress experienced this too.
I also know that as I do all these, it does not guarantee that I will always make the right and best decision. I may fool myself thinking I am doing God will when I am in fact doing my will. I will make mistakes at times. I may follow my sinful nature. I will be in error at times. I will make foolish decisions at time.
So, after knowing all this, there is one more thing I have learned. I do not and cannot live in the past. I do not and cannot live in regret and could have beens. I should learn from past decisions. I should repent and ask for forgiveness from sins, mistakes, and errors made in the past. But I should not live in past, repeating over and over again in my mind the past. I need to move on. I need to continually live by faith. Living by faith is only lived in the present. It is not lived in the past, nor the future.
Choices are a gift of God that must be exercised in God's will and in faith of his unconditional love for me.
* Jeremiah 42 and 2 Kings 25:25-26 record this same event too.
The very few remnant of Israel that remained in Judah went to Jeremiah and asked him to acquire of the Lord where they should go and what they are to do. I notice they said "Your God", not "Our God". This happened right after a group of men committed a series of crimes including assassinating the governor that Nebuchadnezzar put in charge. They knew that the Babylonian army could show up again because of this.
Jeremiah agreed to go to the Lord in prayer. An answer came 10 days later. He told them to stay, not to go to Egypt as they apparently were planning, perhaps because the answer toke so long in coming.
I too grow impatient when I pray and seek God's will and no answer comes right away. The Lord often tests my resolve and faith when I come to him, just as he did the remnant of Israel in this way. I am waiting for answers to several prayers. Yet, I want to think I am waiting, but in careful thought I have made decisions similar to the remnant who went to Jeremiah.
Lord forgive my impatient heart. I want to believe and wait, but I am weak. Override any rash decisions I have made. I trust in you.
* Jeremiah 43 and 2 Kings 25:25-26 record the same time. The year is around 580 BC. Jeremiah was an old man.
After saying they would do whatever the Lord told them to do, the remnant of Judah who where mostly people who had come back to live in Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered strongly rejected the word of God from Jeremiah. They went to Egypt bringing Jeremiah with them.
Why do we say one thing then often do another? Hypocrisy is one reason, but not in this case. This passage says the remnant were arrogant. They were overly self confident. They thought high of their ability. When I am arrogant I believe I don't need God. Humility is the opposite of arrogance.
Jesus said I am to be like a child if I am to enter the kingdom of God. One of the fine quality of the very young is humility and trust. Humility is not putting myself down. Its knowing that even if have ability I accept my limitations.
>What does this show about sinful man?
>10. How did Jehoiachin's life in prison change? (27-30)
2 Kings 25:27-30 "In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month.
28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon.
29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table.
30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived."
* Jeremiah 52:31-34 also records this.
* The year is 562 in this Chronological look at Israel and Judah's history. This took place while Nebuchadnezzar's son, Amel-Marduk (aka Awel-Marduk, Evil-Merodach) reigned 2 years.
Jehoiachin had been Judah's king 3 months during Nebuchadnezzar's Jerusalem siege. Jehoiachin had done evil in his life. The Bible does not say why Jehoiachin, his mother and attendants surrendered. It only said Jehoiachin surrendered. Perhaps he repented and obeyed the Lord's word through the prophet Jeremiah who was telling the people that they should surrendered. Perhaps he saw it was hopeless to hold out.
37 years later Awel-Marduck became ruler and released Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin's prison had not been bad, yet it was not good either. Now his life suddenly changed dramatically again. This time not of his doing.
My life had changed dramatically rather quickly several times in my life to. God is in total control. He may allow me to suffer the consequences of my sins or the sins of others. He may suddenly intervene and perform a miracle or a chain of miracles. Either way I cannot be sure that the end of the day will be the same as the beginning of the day. Next week my life may be different. I should not be surrendered nor without hope.
Jesus taught again and again that we should be prepared for his coming which will bring drastic change to my life and the course of world history. The one thing he wants me to know is I must be prepared. I need to be prepared and hope that what is now is not the way it may be tomorrow. One the same thought, if life is going well then I should not be surprised is something bad happens either. I should not let the good life think it is good because I am good and then be surprised when something bad happens.
The one thing that outside events should not change is my heart towards Jesus. The one thing that cannot change is his love for me. A firm foundation set in Christ will keep me anchored in any storm per Jesus's parable.
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