THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!
Lord, I am aware that You mean exactly what You say. May I always listen to You.
Read 2 KINGS 24:20b—25:17
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.
The Fall of Jerusalem
Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
25 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[a] month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 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[b] were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah,[c] 5 but the Babylonian[d] 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. 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.
8 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. 10 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 deserted 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.
13 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 eighteen cubits[e] high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was three cubits[f] high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.
a 2 Kings 25:3 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text (see Jer. 52:6); Masoretic Text does not have fourth.
b 2 Kings 25:4 Or Chaldeans; also in verses 13, 25 and 26
c 2 Kings 25:4 Or the Jordan Valley
d 2 Kings 25:5 Or Chaldean; also in verses 10 and 24
e 2 Kings 25:17 That is, about 27 feet or about 8.1 meters
f 2 Kings 25:17 That is, about 4 1/2 feet or about 1.4 meters
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction” (Gal. 6:7,8).
The account of Judah’s final collapse is disappointing but not surprising and short on explanation. All that could be said has been said already. Judah, like Israel, has ignored God’s warnings, not believing that anything so serious could happen to them (Jer. 5:11,12; 14:13,14). After all, they are God’s chosen people, Jerusalem is God’s special city containing his temple, and he would surely protect them (Psa. 46:4–7)! To their forefather, Abraham, God promised the land (Gen. 12:7) and to their king, David, he promised a permanent dynasty (2 Sam. 7:8–17).
Yet the unimaginable has become reality. The three pillars of Judah’s identity (king, land and temple) are lost. Zedekiah is taken captive to Babylon. His sons are killed, and his eyes are gouged out (25:7). As a blind man, he can never rule again, even if released. Without progeny, his line is finished. The city and its wall are systematically destroyed, and all but the poorest of the land are marched off to Babylon (9–12). Finally, as Isaiah foretold to Hezekiah 150 years prior, the Babylonians have removed everything of value from the torn-down temple, thus destroying the last symbol of God’s presence (9,13–17).
As Christians we need to heed the lesson inherent in this catastrophe. Just like in Judah, some leaders of today emphasize God’s grace so much that the need for obedience gets obscured. The rhetoric of “grace versus works” can make us think that good deeds do not matter—worse, that they are suspect because we might be trying to earn our salvation. We tend to bask in God’s love but accomplish nothing. Let us remember that we are called to do good works (Eph. 2:10) not as a way to earn God’s favor but in response to his grace already received. If we forget, we too may experience God’s discipline.
Lord, forgive us when we take Your grace for granted and ignore Your call to faithful living. May we show godly fruit in response to Your grace.
Lord, keep us from the degree of complacency that overtook Your people Israel and ever remind us of Your demands on our life.