2 Kings 24-25
(Exile to Babylon)
April 23rd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verses

He deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and warriors of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the artisans and smiths. Only the lowliest of the people of the land* were left.

- 2 Kings 24:14 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

We had learned at the end of chapter 23 that Jehoiakim had been installed as king of Judah (the southern kingdom) by the Egyptians, signifying that Judah no longer had independent rule. Most certainly there was a hope among the people that this situation would be reversed and that Judah would once again re-establish itself as a power in the region. Perhaps there were some who believed that God would once again come to rescue them. This belief would be fulfilled, but not in the lifetime of the people in the era of Jehoiakim and not before the nation was dismantled.

Indeed, the situation would become worse. The beginning of chapter 24 reports that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invaded Judah, and made Jehoiakim his vassal. The Babylonians had overtaken both the Assyrians and Egyptians as the ruling nation in the region and had grabbed Judah as one of its prizes. But Jehoiakim decided he had had enough of serving other kings and revolted against Babylon. Would God go before him in battle as he had for other kings and judges? No. The people had gone too far astray, so instead of saving his people, God orchestrated their defeat:

    God dispatched a succession of raiding bands against him: Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite. The strategy was to destroy Judah. Through the preaching of his servants and prophets, God had said he would do this, and now he was doing it. None of this was by chance—it was God's judgment as he turned his back on Judah because of the enormity of the sins of Manasseh—Manasseh, the killer-king, who made the Jerusalem streets flow with the innocent blood of his victims. God wasn't about to overlook such crimes.

    - 2 Kings 24:2-4 (MSG)

Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin, who served for three months before surrendering to the Babylonians. The Babylonians carried off all of the royal family, the skilled laborers, and the wealthy, and left behind the peasants who would farm the soil on their behalf. The Babylonians installed a new king and named him Zedekiah, but Zedekiah eventually rebelled.

Chapter 25 records the response to the rebellion from the Babylonians, who kept Jerusalem under siege for about two years, and then eventually destroyed the whole city. They burned all the buildings and the temple, but took away the precious metal from the temple before burning it. Many of the remaining people fled to Egypt for safety – returning to the land that their ancestors had been rescued from many generations before.

In the last paragraph of the book we learn that Jehoiachin was freed from prison and given privileges at the royal table.

Reflection and Application

The experience of the people in Judah and in Jerusalem was much like that of the people in the infamous ocean-liner known as the Titanic, a vessel launched with great fanfare in 1912 with the assumption that it was impregnable. Therefore, when it hit an iceberg the passengers may have thought it was a minor inconvenience, a bump in their journey that may have caused them to spill their drinks and stain their crisp white blouses. But then the ship began to slowly take on water. It was a similar experience for Judah.

The sins of the leaders of Judah were the equivalent of a puncture in the hull of a ship. Eventually the weight of the incoming water began to weigh the ship down. Likewise, the sins of the leaders and people of Judah resulted in God allowing the nation to be acquired by Egypt and then by the Babylonians. The attempt to rebel against Babylon was as futile as any attempt to steer the Titanic back to safety. The rate of sinking began to accelerate and panic overtook the ship, much like the panic that must have taken place during the siege and eventual surrender of Jerusalem. The true monarchy had been taken away and the whole infrastructure had been weakened. Finally, the whole city was burnt to the ground, disappearing from view just like a giant ship sinking into the ocean. Only a small fraction survived.

God is patient, and provides forgiveness and second chances. However, he allows, and may even direct destruction when we have strayed too far and become hard-hearted. He had warned all of Israel, as noted back in 1 Kings Chapter 9. After Solomon finished building the temple the LORD warned him about disobedience:

    But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. This temple will become a heap of rubble.

    - 1 Kings 9:6-8 (NIV)

We have read the painful stories of how the people did turn away from God, and perhaps wished we could have been there to warn the people as they set up their pagan worship centers in the high places and planted their pagan worship poles. But they would not have listened to us any more then they listened to the words of God in the Law of Moses and from the lips of the prophets.

As a result, God allowed the once united kingdom of Israel to split apart. He stepped away as the people of the northern kingdom were taken into exile in Assyria about 200 years later, as shown in the timeline on this page. The folks in the southern kingdom were allowed to remain for another 150 years, in part because Hezekiah and Josiah demonstrated repentance and initiated a revival. But their efforts were not upheld by subsequent generations. As a result, the once glorious temple became a heap of rubble and ash, just as the LORD had declared.

Would there be another opportunity for the people of Judah? Perhaps we receive a clue in the last paragraph of 2 Kings. The grace offered by King Awel-Marduk of Babylon to King Jehoiachin, formerly of Judah, may have been a foreshadowing of the grace that would eventually be offered to the surviving remnant. The survival of Jehoichin helped to ensure that the line of David continued. In fact, Jehoichin is noted in the genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, but sometimes spelled as Jeconiah ( Matthew 1:6-17). If you read that genealogy you will see all the names of the kings of Judah that we have read about - from Solomon to Jehoichin.

The days following the Exile were dark days for the people of Judah, much like the Saturday following Good Friday for the followers of Jesus. The descendants of the remaining survivors from Judah would have an opportunity to eventually return to their land, rebuild the temple, and experience joy again. Jesus also returned when God resurrected the temple (Jesus) on the third day, just as Jesus had prophesized. He returned to earth in the flesh, allowing the disciples to see him, hear him, touch him, and share meals with him. Jesus demonstrated his love for us and his power over death. He also created the opportunity for us to leave our old lives behind and resurrect a new life in Jesus. Whenever we feel we have entered a period of darkness we can remember these biblical events and put our hope in the Creator of light.

Most of us have or will experience our own dark days on earth. Imagine the emotions of Chuck Colson (October 16, 1931 – April 21, 2012) when he was sent to prison for his role in the Watergate conspiracy. He had graduated from George Washington Law School with honors and had served as a lawyer for the most powerful man on earth, but then all the king's men came tumbling down. Colson was convicted for obstruction of justice and was sentenced to serve time at the Maxwell Correctional facility in Alabama. All of his previous accolades became meaningless.

A man without faith would have seen this imprisonment as the end of his life, but for Colson, a recently converted Christian, it was the beginning of a lifelong Prison Ministry and a vocation of evangelism. From the depths of disaster and failure he brought glory to God's kingdom and he witnessed to millions regarding the Good News of the Gospel. Please give thanks for the life of Chuck Colson, who passed away in April of 2012. You can read more about Colson in the article at the following link, which was written following his death:

"Christian Leaders Remember Their Hero Chuck Colson..."

What were the key words and phrases that you remember from 1 Kings and 2 Kings? The context in which these words were presented provide the meaning, but the words are a reminder to us of what we read. Think about the words you remember and then checkout the word clouds from the site 66 Clouds by clicking on the links below:

1 Kings word cloud
2 Kings word cloud

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. In what situations have you left your home town permanently or for an extended period of time? How did that feel?
    2. What leaks might exist in your life that could eventually fill your life with an overwhelming and threatening force?
    3. What aspects of your old life would you like to put to rest?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge you as the true captain of our ships. We confess to often getting off course, at our own peril, and thank you for saving our souls. Help us to put to rest our old lives and follow your light.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Sailors and those who make a living on the water

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Overview of 1 Chronicles and study of Chronicles 1-2 (From Adam to David)

    Comments and Questions
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