Reading For Friday 2 Chronicles 36:1-21
After the death of Josiah, the people placed his son Jehoahaz on the throne. On what grounds the people preferred this son to his elder brother Eliakim is not known. He reigned but three months and then was deposed and deported to Egypt by Neco. Neco installed his own man, Eliakim, the older son of Josiah, on the throne. Eliakim changed his name to Jehoiakim, and he was unable to meet his tribute obligations to Neco from the national treasuries that apparently were exhausted. During Jehoiakim’s eleven years on the throne, the previous idolatry returned. In spite of the widespread poverty, this petty little king spent vast sums of money on himself. In one of his blistering sermons, Jeremiah condemned Jehoiakim for building for himself a new palace (Jeremiah 22:13–14). Jehoiakim played the villain through the closing years of Judah’s history. He was everything that is despicable in a national leader. He was a spendthrift, a bigot, an arrogant and irreverent tyrant who would not allow criticism, even when that criticism came from a man of God. A prophet named Uriah was too bold in his denunciation of the king and paid for that boldness with his life (Jeremiah 26:21). Jeremiah found himself in danger on more than one occasion during Jehoiakim’s reign. When Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem, Jehoiakim was bound with bronze chains to be carried away to Babylon. Apparently Nebuchadnezzar was content to take some hostages and some of the vessels of the temple. Jehoiakim became a vassal to Nebuchadnezzar for three years.
Whether by violence or natural death, Jehoiakim was dead when the Chaldeans arrived. His young son Jehoiachin was left to face the wrath of the mighty Nebuchadnezzar. During his brief reign, Jehoiachin allowed the idolatries and superstitions that had prevailed under his father to continue. Jeremiah called this king “a despised, broken pot” and “a vessel no one cares for” (Jer 22:28). Nebuchadnezzar’s army was encamped around the walls of Jerusalem during most of the reign of Jehoiachin. Jerusalem was well fortified. The city could have withstood several months of siege. Whatever his motives, Jehoiachin and the leading citizens of Jerusalem walked through the gates of the city and surrendered. In addition to the royal captives, Nebuchadnezzar carried away from Jerusalem additional treasure from the temple and ten thousand leading citizens of the nation were deported to Babylon.
Zedekiah, the next king, was inclined toward rebellion from the moment Nebuchadnezzar put him on the throne. Jeremiah the prophet warned the people that resistance was futile against Babylon. After a siege of eighteen months, the Babylonians were able to make a breach in the walls of Jerusalem. Zedekiah and his soldiers fled the city. Under cover of darkness, the desperate king slipped past the enemy and made his way toward the plains of the Jordan where he was quickly intercepted by the Babylonians. The city was burned, and its massive walls were entirely dismantled. Only the very poorest of the citizens were allowed to remain in the land because the Babylonians did not wish the area to lie waste, with no prospect of tribute. All of this happened to fulfill the word of the Lord.
Things To Consider:
- Why do you think that the people would not call on God given their desperate circumstances?
- What can we learn from how quickly the destruction came to Judah?
- Why do you think the prophets were ignored?
- Why is it so difficult to humble ourselves before the Lord? What measures have you taken in your life to guard against pride?
- God continued to show compassion to his people in spite of their disobedience until they reached the point of no remedy. What is the point of no remedy and is there a point of no remedy today?