The Downfall of Judah and Us (2 Kings 24-25; 2 Chronicles 36)
Well, my friends, let's dive into the tumultuous pages of 2 Kings 24-25 and 2 Chronicles 36 and glean some wisdom from the ancient annals of Judah's demise. Buckle up, for it's a tale of rebellion, sorrow, and divine judgment.
In these chapters, we witness the heartbreaking story of Judah's downward spiral. The once-great kingdom founded by David now finds itself entangled in the web of rebellion against the mighty Babylonian empire, ruled by the formidable Nebuchadnezzar.
Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, initially bows to the pressure of Babylon and becomes its vassal. However, he soon allows pride and defiance to cloud his judgment, leading him to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar. As expected, this proves disastrous for the nation.
In swift retribution, the Babylonian armies march upon Jerusalem, a city once filled with splendor, now shrouded in darkness. Jehoiakim is captured, and Nebuchadnezzar spares no mercy. The Temple, the sacred symbol of God's presence, is looted, and precious treasures are carried off to Babylon.
Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim's successor, also fails to learn from his father's mistakes. After a mere three months on the throne, he too faces the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar. The once-proud king is shackled, along with his family and other prominent citizens, and led away into captivity.
Enter Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. Despite being forewarned by the prophet Jeremiah about the consequences of rebellion, he follows in the footsteps of his predecessors. His defiance leads to a devastating siege of Jerusalem, with famine and suffering plaguing the land.
Finally, in a heart-wrenching scene, Nebuchadnezzar's forces breach the walls of Jerusalem. Zedekiah is captured, and his sons meet a tragic fate before his very eyes. The city is razed to the ground, and the Temple of the Lord, once a beacon of hope, is reduced to rubble.
My dear friends, we find sobering lessons within these chronicles. We see a parade of kings of Judah who did much wickedness in the eyes of the Lord, and we also see the result of their wickedness. God’s judgment is heavy. Many are killed, many are carried off, and there is no one who escapes.
These pages can be difficult to read. The accounts are graphic. A king has his eyes removed, young and old are put to the sword, and much blood is spilled. However, there is a greater lesson than just history here. This historical account has served as a warning to every generation that has come after it and this serves as an especially relevant warning for us today. It is simply this: those who rebel against the Lord will face judgment.
At the end of 2 Chronicles 36, the Bible tells us that the Lord had pity for His people and so He sent them messenger after messenger to warn them of the judgment that was coming. If only they would repent and turn to Him, these terrors need not come to pass. However, verse 16 tells us that when the people heard God’s messengers, they despised their words and scoffed at the prophets. This aroused the Lord’s anger and their fates were sealed.
Things today are not much different than they were during the time of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Man rebels against God. God has pity for us and so He sends us message after message, warning the people of the world about the coming wrath they are storing up for themselves, but the people do not listen. 2 Peter 3:3-7 says, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
My friends, this is where we are at today, living in the last days, living out the very scenario described by Peter. Our society is a generation of scoffers who have deliberately forgotten God long ago. And like the Israelites guilty of doing the very same thing in today’s reading, final judgment will come for those who do not repent and turn to the Great I Am.