Today we come to the end of the history of the Jewish nation (for a time) as Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem for the second time. (2 Kings 24). After a siege of Jerusalem for nearly three years, the Babylonian army breaks down the city walls and takes away whoever is left from the previous deportation, leaving only some poor people to work the land. V13-17 tells that anything of value in the temple and other significant buildings was destroyed and burned. All remaining leaders including priests, royal advisers and generals are taken to Nebuchadnezzar and executed. Then Gedaliah is placed in charge of those few remaining in Jerusalem.
(As we have been reading over the last couple of months, the 10 tribes of Israel have already disappeared having been transported and dispersed around the Assyrian nation.2 Kings 17.)
Gedadiah, the appointed overseer, who had promised security for those remaining in the city, is killed by Ishmael who, having royal blood, no doubt had ideas of leadership himself.
The remnant of God’s chosen people are decimated and are in captivity because of their sin. Judgement has come – 2kings 24: 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.’
A few things impacted us from recent readings.
1. God is not mocked. He is sovereign and though kind, long suffering and forgiving what he has said he will do! There is an ultimate judgement for us all. C.S Lewis ( I think it was) reminds us that ‘ God is not a tame puppy.’ The nation of Israel discovered this as we will at the end of our lives or at the Lord’s promised return.
2 Leaders of nations make a difference to their people. Few of the leaders/kings we have been reading about chose to follow God’s ways and are held responsible. However those who did honour God brought enormous benefit to the nation eg Joash 40 years, Amaziah 29 years, Azariah 52 years, Hezekiah 29 years, Josiah 31 years rule. Is it any wonder that Paul in Romans calls on us to pray for our leaders. How seriously do we believe that he will guide them and that they need God’s guidance?
3. Parental modelling. Did you notice how many of the sons followed their fathers’ example of doing ‘evil in the sight of The Lord?’ There were notable exceptions such as Joash, Hezekiah and Josiah who followed God despite having evil fathers and Manasseh who turned from God with a vengeance. While the cultural situation for families at that time was so different from the family today it is no wonder we are encouraged to model Christian living and to pray for our children and grandchildren.
1JOHN 2: 15-17
The writer who is recognised as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ in today’s reading warns us of the ease with which we can expend our energies and interests in achieving success in this world at cost to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our employers certainly expect it and we even feel rewarded when we can see our achievements. But John is strongly reminding us that doing God’s will has eternal significance and requires effort. Remember v17. ‘ the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever.’