Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord warned King Zedekiah, “If you surrender to the Babylonian officers, you and your family will live, and the city will not be burned down. But if you refuse to surrender, you will not escape! This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground” (Jeremiah 38:17b-18, NLT).
But Zedekiah refused to heed God’s message. "When King Zedekiah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. But the Babylonian troops chased the king and caught him on the plains of Jericho. They took him to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who was at Riblah in the land of Hamath.
There the king of Babylon pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. He made Zedekiah watch as they slaughtered his sons and all the nobles of Judah. Then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the palace, and tore down the walls of the city” (Jeremiah 39:4a, 5-8).
“Then Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, sent to Babylon the rest of the people who remained in the city as well as those who had defected to him. But Nebuzaradan left a few of the poorest people in Judah, and he assigned them vineyards and fields to care for” (Jeremiah 39:9-10).
Only three kings ruled an undivided nation of Israel: Saul, David, and Solomon. At Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam listened to the foolish advice of his peers and caused the majority of Israel’s tribes to pull away from him and follow Jeroboam, a man who was not of the lineage of David. Rehoboam ended up ruling the Southern Kingdom – what became known as Judah – consisting of mostly the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
Because of their unfaithfulness, Israel was destroyed as a nation. Around 723 B.C. Israel’s capital of Samaria was conquered by the Assyrians and the people were taken captive to Assyria. Years later – around 597 – Jerusalem, Judah’s capital, was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who put Zedekiah on the throne as Judah’s last king. Zedekiah rebelled and around 586 B.C., just as Jeremiah had foretold, Jerusalem was destroyed and its people taken away into Babylon.
But had God given up on these people? Absolutely not.
In Amos 9:14-15 we read: “‘I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again. They will plant vineyards and gardens; they will eat their crops and drink their wine. I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.”
After World War II, in 1948, Israel was restored as a nation; but of those living there today, according to the Jerusalem Center for Current Affairs, “Only 27 percent believe that God will punish them for not observing His commandments.” Seems to me somebody hasn’t done a lot of checking up on how that attitude has worked for them in the past.
In this girl’s opinion, Amos is speaking of a future time as described in Revelation 21:1-4: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
The New Jerusalem will last forever. The people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9b) who have placed their faith in the Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, will also live forever. In peace. Perfect peace. Hallelujah!
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates