No more trying to pass things off in Jerusalem as ‘fine’. Nebuchadnezzar’s forces make the walls fall. And the last sight Zedekiah ever sees is his sons being killed.
God’s judgement is being carried out on Jerusalem. His patience is exhausted and Babylon is His instrument of judgment. Jerusalem will crumble under that weight.
This isn’t the first time Nebuchadnezzar has come against Jerusalem. Jehoiachin surrendered himself and his people to Nebuchadnezzar the last time. At that time Nebuchadnezzar installed Zedekiah as king to run the ‘shell’ country of Judah. He took everything and everyone of value back with him to Babylon but left the buildings intact.
Zedekiah was apparently content for some time with what he had but that didn’t last. He didn’t want to be a ‘puppet king’. He wanted the independence Judah had before. He tried in his own might to make that happen.
Men of war were brought together in Jerusalem. Zedekiah refused to pass on any tributes to Nebuchadnezzar. He closed his gates to the soldiers of Babylon. And he stood in defiance.
Nebuchadnezzar could not let this go unanswered. His reputation and rule was at stake. If he ignored Judah, other nations would think they could rebel without consequences too. Nebuchadnezzar struck back hard and long. He would not relent until Jerusalem was in ashes and Zedekiah was on his knees in front of him.
From the ninth year and the tenth day of the tenth month until the eleventh year and the ninth day of the fourth month Jerusalem was under attack. Over a year and a half the people of Jerusalem cowered in their homes. No commerce came or went. No planting or reaping. All the people had to survive was what was within the walls at the time the siege began.
This reminds me of the story of when Samaria was being besieged by Syria. The famine was so great the two women agreed to eat their own children to survive. Joram, the son of Ahab was king in Israel at that time. The Lord showed a marvelous miracle at that time. There would be no miracle from Him for Jerusalem.
I have no doubt that the people called out to the gods they were serving. Baal, Asherah, the hosts of heaven, any that they could get their hands on EXCEPT the Lord. But none of these gods had ears to hear or eyes to see the state of the people. The ONLY One who could see and hear had turned His head away because of their sin. And they were NOT repentant of that sin so He would not, and could not, move on their behalf.
There finally comes a break in the wall surrounding the city. I am curious who made it because if Nebuchadnezzar’s troops had made it I would expect them to swarm in through it. Instead, Zedekiah, his family and the men of war sneak out through it. They abandoned the people and sought out their own safety beyond the walls. But there was no safety to be had.
The armies of Babylon chased them down. They captured Zedekiah and his family. Everyone who was supposed to be protecting him ran away. The king and his family were then brought to Nebuchadnezzar. He was staying in Riblah at the time. For his crime of high treason Zedekiah was made to stand witness as his sons were killed in front of him. THEN his eyes were put out. The last sight he ever saw was the death of each and every one of his sons while he stood helplessly by. After this he was bound in chains and taken off to Babylon.
To me, this would have been a fate worse than death. It probably was to Zedekiah too. He had to live the rest of his life knowing his actions caused the death of his children. His rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. His rebellion against God. His trust in his own might and in the might of the ‘army’ he gathered around himself. All these would haunt him the rest of his life. No daylight ever to touch his eyes and chase the darkness away either.
After Zedekiah was dealt with Nebuchadnezzar made certain that the spirits of the people were completely broken. The last time his forces entered the city they took all that was valuable from the Temple, the palace, and anywhere else they could find it. This included ‘valuable’ people. This time the city would be consumed by fire. The metals of the Temple were stripped from it, including the bronze pillars. What remained was set on fire. The palace suffered the same fate. Everywhere you looked in Jerusalem fires raged. That which couldn’t be burned was broken down. And the people who had moved into the city to replace those taken the last time were now bound in chains and taken to join their fellow captives in Babylon.
All that remained in the land of this once proud people were the poorest of the poor. They would tend the fields and vineyards for Nebuchadnezzar. Ash and rubble filled the great city where God placed His name.
God was not done with His people yet. This is NOT the end. It is one of many ‘reset points’ God ordered along the way to His final reunification with His people. That time is still to come and we will be part of it!
Father God, I am constantly amazed at how You continue to love me, even while in the middle of my deepest sin. You NEVER give up on me. You NEVER gave up on Your people. They had to face the consequences of their actions in order to bring them back to You. They had to see what ‘without You’ looked like before they would be ready to turn again to You. PLEASE don’t let me ever get that far from You! I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t survive the lesson.