Read 2 Kings 24
24 During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. 2 The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.
5 As for the other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 6 Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.
7 The king of Egypt did not march out from his own country again, because the king of Babylon had taken all his territory, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates River.
Jehoiachin King of Judah
8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. 9 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done.
10 At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, 11 and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. 12 Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him.
In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. 13 As the Lord had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace, and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the Lord. 14 He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left.
15 Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. 16 The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans. 17 He made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah King of Judah
18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 19 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.
The Fall of Jerusalem
Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
This chapter provides us with the final three kings of Judah, and it should not come as a surprise at this point that they all “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The first king mentioned is Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah. This is important to note since Josiah was one of the few good kings! Remember, he was known for his sweeping reforms to turn the people’s hearts back to God. How can such a king who fervently followed the Lord have sons who turned their backs on God? From King Jehoiakim we see that godly parentage does not necessarily guarantee godly children. Deuteronomy 24:16 reminds us that everyone is responsible for their own sin, and that everyone makes their own choice regarding whether or not to follow God. Jehoiakim’s life is the perfect example of willful disobedience to God’s direction and the consequences that naturally derive from choosing to walk away from God’s commands.
The next king to follow is King Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. His reign did not last long at all as the young king quickly surrendered to Babylon and their siege of Jerusalem. Interestingly enough, the invasion fulfilled the Lord’s warning to Solomon about apostasy in 1 Kings 9:6-9. Clearly, God cares deeply about His children observing His commands and serving only Him. Countless times in scripture, we see God’s people turn back to false gods and idolatry. Is it a coincidence that the first two commands mentioned in the Ten Commandments are in reference to this very thing? Arguably, rebelliousness and idolatry are the common themes and pitfalls for the wicked kings of Judah.
The irony is that nothing is new in our world today. We may read this chapter and think that it does not relate to us now, but we would be wrong. While we may not be tempted to offer sacrifices to other deities or worship man-made images, the issue of the heart remains the same. We are control-seeking, prideful people. Our jobs become an idol when it is all we can think about or all we spend our time on. Money becomes an idol when it consumes our thoughts and is the motivation for all decisions. Whatever it is, idols still exist today, and the enemy would love for us to read 2 Kings and blow it off as irrelevant. Let us thank God for the examples we see in 2 Kings regarding the dangers of putting other things before God, and may we learn from their errors and devote our full hearts and praise to the One True King.
- Why do you think God allowed so many wicked kings on the throne?
- Is there anything you learned about the heart of God today that you hadn’t thought about before?
- Consider where you spend the most time (or most money) or an area where you fear losing control. Is there anything that you need to identify as an idol in your life and surrender to the Lord?
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