We have arrived at the fall of Jerusalem. The day God had been warning the people about, through Jeremiah and other prophets, for a LONG time.
The fall of Jerusalem did not happen in one night. It didn’t happen in one month or even one year. It took a year and a half for the walls to be breached and the soldiers from Babylon to enter into the city. It was also a year and a half for the people to be shut up in the city, living on whatever they had on hand. And during that time what they had was exhausted.
We don’t see any stories of cannibalism during this time but I remember prophecies stating that it would be so. Mothers eating their own sons. We also heard prophecies of what would happen to Zedekiah, the city, the people left within its walls, and even those who surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar.
We know, from common sense, that there was starvation and disease rampant in the city. We also know this from prophecy. EVERYONE was starving. There was no more bread within the walls of the city. With that starvation came death. With death and barred up gates came decay and disease in the midst of the city. ALL the things that God had promised to those who remained in Jerusalem. And let’s not forget about the sword. How many men of Judah fell in battle, trying to protect the people within the walls?
After a year and a half of hiding behind the walls, believing they were impenetrable, the sound of falling rubble is heard throughout the city. Following on its heels is the sound of the Babylonian soldiers making their way to the middle gate of God’s House. All their officials came in to take the places of honor and leadership; at the gate.
I’m wondering about a couple of things. First, did Zedekiah flee the night before the breach or the night after? If the night before, how did he know this would be the day? If the night after, was no one guarding him??? Second, did people come to the officials and surrender to them? Did they ask for guidance from them? In short, what happened when the wall was breached?
We know that at some point, under cover of darkness, the king, his family, and the soldiers snuck out the back gate and ran away. The very men who were supposed to be protecting the people with their last breath. Or were they planning on ‘preserving the dynasty’ with this escape? They didn’t get very far before being captured. I don’t know if Judah’s officials ran with the king or were rounded up within the city walls.
I’m using logic and assuming that the soldiers went house to house, gathering up the remaining people. These would have been the ones hiding and probably too weak to fight. As a house was cleared, it was set on fire. This prevented anyone from sneaking from house to house behind the soldiers to houses that were already cleared.
The people who were rounded up would be put into a holding area. More and more people would be added to their numbers as the city was scoured for survivors. Any who came willingly to the officials would be held separately from those who were dragged from their homes. Those who resisted the soldiers’ orders, from either group, would be struck down where they stood.
I’m assuming that the last place set on fire was the Temple. The king’s house and the Temple were thoroughly looted before they were set on fire. I’m wondering if they even took the gold that adorned the Temple. We know they took all the gold within the Temple and the king’s house. I’m certain they ransacked the officials houses too. EVERYTHING of value was removed from each dwelling before it was set to burn. And burn it they did! They also broke down the walls and set them on fire.
We don’t know how many days it took to round up everyone but once they did, the officials and all the king’s family were taken to the place where Nebuchadnezzar was. That was the last place any of them would ever see again. All of them were put to death in front of the king and then his eyes were put out.
ALL the survivors were marched away from the city. Their last sight of the city that bore God’s name was smoke and flames. This was a sight that would stay with them the rest of their lives. And it was a sight that didn’t have to happen.
I’m wondering if Zedekiah saw the city burning before he was brought before Nebuchadnezzar. If he considered the fact that God gave him a different way out. He didn’t have to take this path. But even though Zedekiah took this path for all of Judah God didn’t lose sight of each one of them. He KNEW their comings and goings. Where they walked and where they stayed. What lay in their futures. He knew how long the lesson would be and how much of it would stick with them. And we will see tomorrow how He kept his eye on one special individual; Jeremiah. Their future wasn’t pretty but it also wasn’t out of God’s sight.
Father God, thank You that I am NEVER out of Your sight. That, no matter where I go, or what I do, You ALWAYS see me. I’m in Your hands FOREVER. Even when those hands are delivering well deserved discipline.