The End of the Kings !

23 12 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY FOUR : 2 Kings 24 v. 8 – 25 v. 30; Romans 1 v. 18 – 32; Psalm 84 v. 8 – 12


Babylonian tablet chronicling the capture of Jerusalem in 597BC

2 KINGS
Jehoiachin King of Judah – Jehoiachin is 18 when he becomes king and he rules for three months ! His mother, Nehushta, was a Jerusalemite. ‘He did evil in the eyes of the Lord…’
Nebuchadnezzar’s officers laid siege to Jerusalem, the king himself coming up to the city for the fight.
King Jehoiachin and all his officials (and his mother) surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar.
Nebuchadnezzar was in his eighth year as king, and he did as had been prophesied – he took all the treasures from the temple and the palace, all the gold which originated from Solomon’s reign. All Jerusalem was carried into exile – 10,000 people. ‘Only the poorest of the people were left’.
Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon, with his mother and his wives, and officials. Nebuchadnezzar put Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah in charge of Jerusalem as king, changing his name to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah King of Judah – Zedekiah was 21 when he was made king, and he reigned for eleven years. ‘He did evil in the eyes of the Lord’, and because of this the Lord, in His anger, allowed destruction to come to Jerusalem and Judah, ‘and in the end He thrust them from His presence.

The Fall of Jerusalem – Zedekiah rebels against Babylon, so king Nebuchanezzar of Babylon marches against Jerusalem, encamping outside the city and besieging it, for around two years (from 9th to 11th year of Zedekiah’s reign). The city experienced a great famine. The army inside the city break the wall (near the king’s garden) and flee towards the Arabah. The Babylonian army pursue them, overtaking them in the Jordan plains. King Zedekiah is captured and is taken to Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah. Zedekiah’s sons are killed, and his own eyes are gouged out, and he is taken captive to Babylon.
‘On the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign in Babylon’, the king’s commander, Nebuzaradan entered Jerusalem. He burned down the temple, the palace and every house in Jerusalem. The walls around Jerusalem were torn down. Most of the people left were taken into exile, except a few of the poorest people ‘to work the vineyards and fields’.
The bronze from the temple (pillars, stands and Sea) is broken up and taken to Babylon, as well as all the artifacts, gold, silver, pottery.
The bronze weighed a huge amount (‘more than could be weighed’), and represented all that Solomon had invested in this temple.
The chief priest – Seraiah – and the next in rank – Zephaniah – and the doorkeepers were taken as prisoners. Various other officials who had remained in Jerusalem were taken captive too. Once in Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar had them executed.
‘So Judah went into captivity, away from her land’.
Gedaliah is appointed to rule over the people left in Judah. The people came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and he reassured them:
‘Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials…settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.’
Seven months in, however, Ishmael (‘who was of royal blood’) rose up and killed Gedaliah, and the Judeans and Babylonians who were with him. Then they fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.

So at the end of the period of the ‘kings’, the people of God who had been rescued from Egypt, find themselves fleeing to Egypt, vacating the promised land.
Sad reversal of all that God had promised and provided.

Jehoiachin Released – Remember Jehoiachin ? He had surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 24. Well, 37 years later, when Evil-Merodach (Nebuchadnezzar’s son) became king of Babylon, Jehoiachin is released. He is spoken kindly to and given a seat of honour ‘higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon’.
‘So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table….the king gave Jehoiachin a daily allowance as long as he lived.’

My study bible states :
‘The books of Kings end on the hopeful assertion that a ‘son of David’ was alive and well. Whatever the human motives behind Jehoiachin’s release, God’s decree was that the family of David, though severely chastened, would not be exterminated. Though humans break their covenant, God keeps His.’

ROMANS
God’s Wrath Against Mankind – Paul contends that you only have to look around you to see that God is angry with the ‘godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth’.
‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse’.
He contends that God is easily ‘known’, yet never glorified or thanked by these foolish souls, who even substitute the glory of God for the folly of images of men, birds, animals and reptiles.
Left to their own devices, then, God watches as sexual sins, lies and false worship take them over; women and men give in to ‘shameful lusts’; women with women, men with men.
Their minds, also, wandered into perversions – ‘evil, greed and depravity…envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice…gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful…disobeying parents…senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless’ (wow, that’s quite a depressing list !!).
Paul argues that though people know these things are wrong, they are done, nonetheless, and those who do them are applauded !

I find it worth pondering just how easily ‘knowable’ God is – there is the promise that all who seek Him will find Him – but how true is it that since the beginning ‘God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen’. Easy to say with the eyes of faith.
It is easy, though, for me to see how depraved human nature can become ‘left to its own devices’. In that sense, God leaves humanity to its own end…..or does He? Roll on the Incarnation, Emmanuel : GOD WITH US !

PSALM
‘My Lord, my God, hear me out –
Listen to my words, God of Jacob.

(pause for silent reflection)

Examine our defenses, and look favourably
upon Your chosen, anointed one.
I’d rather have one day in the court of Your presence
than one thousand anywhere else.
I’d rather hold the door for people coming into Your house
than abide in the tents of evil people.

My Lord, my God,
 You are my sun and shield, brightness and defense.
You dish out blessings and honour,
Showering Your goodness upon all who walk in Your ways, faultless in Your sight.
My Lord, my God,
Almighty One,
True blessing and contentment comes when we
put our whole trust in You.’

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