And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. — 2 Kings 24:2
An object lesson that I have never forgotten was given in Sunday school when I was young. Our teacher related a story about a farmer who told his son to pound a nail into the barn door every time he did something wrong. After hammering nails into a piece of wood to illustrate, our teacher continued the narrative. He said that one day the boy looked at the barn door and felt ashamed of the ugly nails that marred its surface, so he asked his dad how he could get rid of them. The father told his son he could start removing a nail every time he did something good. Before long, the last nail was taken out of the door. Removing the nails from the board, our teacher showed us that although every nail was gone, the holes remained. He was not suggesting that we can compensate for sins by doing something good. Rather, he made the point that the scars of sin may remain in our lives, even after we have asked God for forgiveness and are saved and doing right.
Our teacher wanted us to understand that sin has consequences. In contrast to the boy in the object lesson who felt remorseful for his deeds, the kings and people of the nation of Judah as a whole had stubbornly refused to heed God’s commandments and warnings. Today’s text tells of four more kings who “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.” Finally, God’s anger could not be pacified any longer, and the people of Judah bore the consequences of their rebellion. The focus verse says He sent their enemies against them to destroy them.
The choices we make today have consequences and will affect our future. If we make unwise choices in what we eat, ignore the need for exercise, or develop other harmful habits, our health will eventually suffer. If we make foolish use of credit cards and spend money on things we cannot afford, there will come a day of financial reckoning. If we neglect the call of God, or fail to live a disciplined spiritual life, that will affect us. Even so, we must never forget the vastness of God’s mercy and grace. He reaches out in love to those who heed His call, and He has an amazing ability to help and restore those who look to Him.
We can learn from the people of Judah not to resist God. Remembering that sin has consequences, we want to serve the Lord and by His help make right choices. He is waiting to give us His strength and grace to do so if we will just ask.
Under the reign of King Josiah, Judah experienced a brief period of turning away from idolatrous practices, as the king attempted to lead the nation back to worship of God. After Josiah’s death, people quickly returned to the wicked ways which they had followed during the reign of Manasseh. Josiah’s sons, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, were evil kings. The judgment which had been postponed during Josiah’s reign was about to descend upon Judah, only twenty-two years after Josiah’s death.
When King Josiah died, the people of Judah made his fourth son, Jehoahaz (also called Shallum), king (see 1 Chronicles 3:15). However, the armies of Pharaoh-nechoh of Egypt were moving northward, and they took control of Judah. Pharaoh removed Jehoahaz after he had reigned only three months, taking him to Egypt, where he died. Josiah’s older son, Jehoiakim (also called Eliakim) was made king, and the people of Judah were taxed to pay tribute to Egypt. Jehoiakim was an evil and oppressive king (see Jeremiah 22:13-19).
While Jehoiakim was king of Judah, the Neo-Babylonian Empire conquered the Assyrian Empire, and became the supreme governing force of the world. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded the land of Judah three times, the first invasion beginning the seventy-year captivity prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12).
During his first invasion in 605 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar took treasures from the Temple and hostages from the nobility and royal families, including Daniel and the three Hebrew children. These were the vessels that Belshazzar used in his feast (see Daniel 5:2) and which Cyrus sent back to Jerusalem with Ezra (see Ezra 1:7-11).
The second invasion occurred in 597 B.C., during King Jehoiachin’s reign. At that time the rest of the Temple treasures and ten thousand men were taken away to Babylon. The Prophet Ezekiel was carried to Babylon during this captivity. In 588 B.C., during the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, the third invasion took place. The city of Jerusalem was besieged for eighteen months and then destroyed in 586 B.C, along with the Temple. Zedekiah was carried to Babylon with all the remnant of the Jewish population, except for the poorest of the people.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reigns of the kings of Judah
E. Jehoahaz (23:31-35)
1. The character of Jehoahaz’s reign (23:31-32)
2. The imprisonment of Jehoahaz by Necho (23:33)
3. The replacement by Necho of Jehoahaz (23:34-35)
F. Jehoiakim (23:36-24:7)
1. The character of Jehoiakim’s reign (23:36-37)
2. The oppression of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar (24:1-4)
3. The death of Jehoiakim (24:5-7)
G. Jehoiachin (24:8-16)
1. The character of Jehoiachin’s reign (24:8-9)
2. The captivity of Jehoiachin and the first deportation (24:10-16)
1. The character of Zedekiah’s reign (24:17-19)
2. The rebellion of Zedekiah
a. The rebellion against Babylon (24:20)
God is waiting to help us make right choices and avoid the consequences of sin. Are we availing ourselves of His help?