And Gedaliah sware to them, and to their men, and said unto them, Fear not to be the servants of the Chaldees: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon; and it shall be well with you. — 2 Kings 25:24
There can be tremendous blessing in words of encouragement. In 1937, tragic news reached Oswald Smith, a young pastor and songwriter in Toronto, Canada. His brother-in-law, Clifford, a missionary in Peru, had been instantly killed in a car accident just as he and his family were preparing to return home on their first furlough. Oswald’s youngest sister, Ruth, thousands of miles from her homeland and only twenty-six years old, was left alone to raise their two little boys.
Longing to offer encouragement in his sister’s time of great need, Oswald penned the words of a poem:
God understands your sorrow,
He sees the falling tear
And whispers, I am with thee;
Then falter not, nor fear.
God understands your heartache,
He knows the bitter pain,
O, trust Him in the darkness,
You cannot trust in vain.
God understands your longing
Your deepest grief He shares,
Then let Him bear your burden,
He understands, and cares.
Oswald gave the poem to B.D. Ackley, who set it to music, and then sent the song to his sister. What a comfort it was to her! She cried as she sang the message from her brother, but its words ministered to her heart. And in the years since it was written, the hymn “God Understands” has brought encouragement to many who have faced grief and trials.
Today’s focus verse is another message of encouragement given in a time of great need — an assurance to the devastated remnant in Judah from Gedaliah, the governor Nebuchadnezzar had appointed. A friend of the Prophet Jeremiah, Gedaliah was telling the people of Judah, “You have no reason to fear further trouble. If you continue peaceably in the land, no harm will befall you.” The earthly kingdom of Judah had been demolished, but God was still willing to keep His spiritual Kingdom alive in the hearts of the exiles if they would look His way for strength and comfort in time of need.
That is still true today. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can always be assured that God sees and cares about what is happening in our lives. As we accept difficult circumstances — things we cannot control — and keep trusting Him, He will watch over us and bring us strength, comfort, and encouragement in our hour of need.
This chapter records the final siege, famine, and ultimate fall of Jerusalem, the result of Judah’s rebellion against God in spite of His repeated offers of mercy.
In 597 B.C., in the second of three invasions, King Nebuchadnezzar had accepted the surrender of King Jehoiachin and his royal household, and spared the city of Jerusalem. At that time, the king and all notables of Jerusalem were deported to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar appointed King Jehoiachin’s brother, Mattaniah, to be king over Jerusalem, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah had an evil eleven-year reign, culminating in a rebellion against Babylon that precipitated the final overthrow of Judah, which is described in this chapter. After a siege of many months, “the city was broken up.” Zedekiah and his men of war fled the city, but were pursued by the Babylonians and captured. The king’s sons were slain before his eyes, and he was blinded and then carried in chains to Babylon. The Temple was destroyed, the walls of the city were broken down, and all but a few of the people were carried away captive.
After Jerusalem’s fall, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah to govern Judah. Gedaliah was from a notable family. His father had influenced Jehoiachin to save Jeremiah from death (see Jeremiah 26:24), and his grandfather Shaphan had been secretary to Josiah and had figured prominently in the king’s efforts to turn Judah back to God (2 Kings 22). Gedaliah himself returned a brokenhearted Jeremiah back to his home after the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:14). He offered a message of encouragement to the remnant left in Judah, promising them support and protection if they would simply “dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon.” However, he was assassinated by Ishmael, one of Judah’s remaining captains who believed that the Jews should migrate to Egypt. The remaining Judeans fled to Egypt and took Jeremiah with them.
In Babylon, thirty-seven years after Jehoiachin’s surrender, the new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, graciously released Jehoiachin from prison and elevated him to a prominent position. He was given new garments and daily rations of food. Babylonian records have been found listing the rations of prisoners and foreigners residing in Babylon, and Jehoiachin was one who was specifically named, a historic validation of this Biblical account.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reigns of the kings of Judah
2. The rebellion of Zedekiah
b. The siege of Jerusalem (25:1-7)
(1) The lengthy siege (25:1-3)
(2) The aborted escape (25:4-6)
(3) The murder of Zedekiah’s sons and the blinding of Zedekiah (25:7)
c. The destruction of Jerusalem (25:8-12)
d. The deportation of the Temple’s wealth (25:13-17)
e. The final deportation of Judah’s inhabitants (25:18-21)
f. The appointment of Gedaliah as governor (25:22-26)
(1) Gedaliah’s appointment (25:22-24)
(2) Gedaliah’s murder (25:25)
(3) The remnant’s flight to Egypt (25:26)
g. The release of Jehoiachin (25:27-30)
God sees and cares about the circumstances of our lives, and He will see us through whatever challenges come our way.