Zedekiah had been appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to replace Jehoiachin whom he had taken into captivity. Yet even after seeing what had happened to Jehoiachin, Zedekiah still rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, breaking “an oath of loyalty in God’s Name” (II Chronicles 36:13a, NLT). God warned and warned the people, but “All the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful” (II Chronicles 36:14a) and they even “scoffed at the prophets” (II Chronicles 36:16b) sent to give them an opportunity to repent.
When Zedekiah rebelled, the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem, surrounding the city and preparing to starve and/or burn them out. At this point of desperation, Zedekiah actually sent for Jeremiah and asked him to pray for the people of Judah. “Later King Zedekiah… asked him, ‘Do you have any messages from the Lord?’ ‘Yes, I do!’ said Jeremiah. ‘You will be defeated by the king of Babylon’” (Jeremiah 37:17). Since this wasn’t the answer Zedekiah wanted to hear, Jeremiah was arrested.
Zedekiah continued to secretly consult Jeremiah, asking him what he should do: “Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘This is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘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 38:17-18). Again, Zedekiah listened, but since he didn’t like the message, he didn’t heed it.
Aren’t we sometimes like Zedekiah? We want the easy way, not the hard way. We want it our way, not someone else’s way. But God’s way is the only right way – true life isn’t multiple choice; the only real life is in Christ. The last thing Zedekiah would ever see was the result of his rebellion against God.
“When King Zedekiah and all the soldiers saw that the Babylonians had broken into the city, they fled. They waited for nightfall and then slipped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden and headed toward the Jordan Valley. 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” (Jeremiah 39:4-7).
What had Jeremiah told him? “If you refuse to surrender, you will not escape.” It’s impossible to imagine the terror and pain Zedekiah went through as he watched his own sons executed and awaited his own fate.
What else had Jeremiah told him? “If you refuse to surrender…, This city will be handed over to the Babylonians, and they will burn it to the ground." While Zedekiah watched the slaughter of “his sons and all the nobles of Judah,” “the Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the palace, and tore down the walls of the city” (Jeremiah 39:8).
Needless pain. Needless destruction. All because of man’s refusal to turn to the Savior.
“I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32, NIV). “Seek Me and live!” (Amos 5:4b, NIV). “Obey My commands and live!” (Proverbs 7:2a, NLT).
God has sent us countless warnings and every person will one day stand, “without excuse” (Romans 1:20b, NIV), before the Lord and “give an account” (Romans 14:12b, NIV) of his or her life. Has yours been well-spent in service to your Heavenly Father?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates