Lord, I shudder at the thought of incurring Your wrath.
Read 2 CHRONICLES 36:2–23
Jehoahaz King of Judah
2 Jehoahaz[a] was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. 3 The king of Egypt dethroned him in Jerusalem and imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents[b] of silver and a talent[c] of gold. 4 The king of Egypt made Eliakim, a brother of Jehoahaz, king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Necho took Eliakim’s brother Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt.
Jehoiakim King of Judah
5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon articles from the temple of the Lord and put them in his temple[d] there.
8 The other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, the detestable things he did and all that was found against him, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.
Jehoiachin King of Judah
9 Jehoiachin was eighteen[e] years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 10 In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon, together with articles of value from the temple of the Lord, and he made Jehoiachin’s uncle,[f] Zedekiah, king over Judah and Jerusalem.
Zedekiah King of Judah
11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. 12 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
The Fall of Jerusalem
15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. 17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians,[g] who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. 18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.
20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. 21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.
22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
23 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
a 2 Chronicles 36:2 Hebrew Joahaz, a variant of Jehoahaz; also in verse 4
b 2 Chronicles 36:3 That is, about 3 3/4 tons or about 3.4 metric tons
c 2 Chronicles 36:3 That is, about 75 pounds or about 34 kilograms
d 2 Chronicles 36:7 Or palace
e 2 Chronicles 36:9 One Hebrew manuscript, some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 2 Kings 24:8); most Hebrew manuscripts eight
f 2 Chronicles 36:10 Hebrew brother, that is, relative (see 2 Kings 24:17)
g 2 Chronicles 36:17 Or Chaldeans
New International Version (NIV)
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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
This isn’t one of the most inspirational chapters in the Bible. Have you ever seen a poster or memorized a verse from 2 Chronicles 36? It’s a quick summary of four kings, all of whom did what was evil eyes of the Lord. You would think one of them would have considered the life of a predecessor and figured, “Following idols hasn’t worked; maybe we should try following the Lord,” but, alas, their evil-doing begins the descent we know is coming: the fall of
How can we take something useful from a passage like this? Sometimes when reading about tragic endings in the Bible, I try to imagine how things might have been if the characters had made different choices. So in this case how might Israel’s history have been different if just one of these kings had humbled himself as Josiah did?
There’s another useful takeaway from this passage, but to appreciate it we must look at one of the Bible’s toughest themes: God’s wrath. After generations of disobedience the day of judgment has arrived: Nebuchadnezzar sacks Jerusalem and takes the people into exile. The Chronicler ends his book by reminding us that God’s wrath can be understood only in the context of his love; notice the reference to God’s pity (15). This echoes Jesus’ words: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matt. 23:37). God’s wrath is rooted in his loving purpose. For Judah, it will take 70 years to work itself out—but God refuses to give up on his people.
What have been your most significant takeaways from your readings through 2 Chronicles?
Lord, keep our leaders on the straight and narrow path so that we will not experience Your retributive hand.