Experiencing the Unbelievable

KEY VERSE: “If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock is carried away captive.” —Jeremiah 13:17

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Kings 24:20 – 25:12

KING JEHOIAKIM HAD entered into a treaty with powerful Babylon a number of years earlier, thereby making Judah a vassal state. But when the Egyptians beat back Babylonian troops, Jehoiakim mounted a badly-timed rebellion that utterly failed. (II Kings 24:1-3) After his death, his son, Jehoiachin, ascended the throne and reigned only three months, rebelling against Babylon in the same way as his father. (vss. 8-16) After this short period, Jehoiachin was deported to Babylon along with thousands of other top government and military officers. King Nebuchadnezzar then made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king of Judah and changed his name to Zedekiah. (vs. 17) Although Zedekiah reigned for eleven years, the Scriptural account concentrates on the final days of his reign. In those days, the words of the prophets—words that seemed so unbelievable when they were uttered—finally came true. Judah’s downward fall toward destruction was almost complete.

Earlier in his reign, King Zedekiah wavered between maintaining Judah as a vassal state to Babylon, or turning to Egypt as an ally as his two predecessors had done. The latter choice is the one that he finally made, rebelling against Babylon (vs. 20)—a decision that had devastating consequences for his people. In II Kings 25:1-3 we read that Babylon responded with a siege lasting eighteen months. As these verses describe the battle scene, we can see the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophetic etching of the siege on a mud brick. (See lesson for November 3.) Ezekiel’s loaf of bread, baked from a variety of ingredients because food was so scarce, comes immediately to mind as the verses note the lack of food in Jerusalem.

The Babylonian troops could not be repulsed. II Kings 25:4 states that “the city was broken up”—the great city of Jerusalem—once thought invincible by the nation of Israel, had now fallen to a heathen, Gentile nation. Zedekiah and his soldiers escaped from the city, but only briefly. Verses 5-7 describe his capture and the resulting punishment inflicted upon him. His captors took him, along with his sons, to Nebuchadnezzar. They then killed Zedekiah’s sons while he watched. Zedekiah’s eyes were then put out, he was bound, and carried off to Babylon. Truly this seemed like an ignoble end to the kingly line of David.

The Babylonians, however, were not finished with Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guard, led the army in a total destruction of Jerusalem. (vss. 8-11) His troops broke the remaining walls, set fire to all the residences, including the king’s palace, and desecrated the Temple. He carried away captive most of the citizens to Babylon.

In the Key Verse, God laments for his people who have been taken captive. Yet, this all came about because the people did not heed the repeated warnings of God. When other prophecies are fulfilled, Jerusalem will again be safely inhabited during Christ’s coming kingdom. We read: “Men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.”—Zech. 14:11

Dawn Bible Students Association
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