The Siege of Jerusalem
JULY 4 - Nº 185 2 Kings 24:18 – 25:2; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14; Jeremiah 21; 37
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made Zedekiah king of Judah in Jehoiachin’s place. But Zedekiah refused to worship God and would not listen to the warnings of Jeremiah (who was still in Jerusalem). After Zedekiah had been king for nine years, he stopped fulfilling his obligations to Babylon. Instead, he pledged the country’s allegiance to Egypt again. This made King Nebuchadnezzar very angry. He brought his whole army and set up a siege around Jerusalem. No one could go in or out. Soon there was no food, and the people began to starve. Even though he had rejected God, Zedekiah sent a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to pray for God’s help. God told Jeremiah, “Tell the king of Judah, ‘Pharaoh’s army has marched out to help you. When the Babylonians see this, they will withdraw from their siege. When they do, Pharaoh will lead his army back to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and burn Jerusalem to the ground. Don’t think you can stop them. Even if your army goes out and defeats all of them except a few wounded men who escape, I will allow those wounded men to burn it down.’” As the Egyptians approached, the Babylonian army began to retreat. At this point, Jeremiah decided it was safe to leave Jerusalem to check on some property he had been given. A guard saw him walking out of the city gate and thought he was trying to escape to join the Babylonian army. “That’s not true!” Jeremiah exclaimed. He tried to explain what he was doing, but the guard would not listen. Jeremiah was arrested and beaten and thrown in a dungeon. He was locked up for a long time. Jeremiah’s prophecy had been correct. Sure enough, when the Egyptians left, the Babylonians returned. King Zedekiah secretly sent for Jeremiah and brought him to the palace. “Is there something you can tell me from God?” he asked the prophet. “Yes,” Jeremiah replied. “You will be captured by the king of Babylon!” After he had delivered this message, Jeremiah asked the king, “What have I done that has caused you to lock me in a dungeon? I have answered all your questions honestly, and everything I have predicted has come true. Please don’t send me back to the dungeon or I will die.” King Zedekiah listened and ordered that Jeremiah be guarded in the palace courtyard. He was to be given a loaf of bread every day—as long as there was bread in the city. But soon there was no food at all because of the new Babylonian siege. The rulers of Jerusalem sent an urgent message to Jeremiah. “Please ask God to deliver us! Maybe He will do a miracle for us like He has done in the past.” God sent this message back through Jeremiah: “No, I won’t deliver you. Instead, I am going to fight against you. I am about to send a plague into the city. People and animals will die. You have a choice: you can stay in the city and die from famine, the plague, or Babylonian swords; or you can go out now and surrender to the Babylonians as I have instructed you to do many times. Then your lives will be saved.
God never gives up on us. He gives us second, third, fourth . . . and several hundred more chances! No matter how rebellious and sinful we have been, He is willing to forgive us. We are the ones who give up on Him when we turn our backs and walk into eternity without accepting His forgiveness. Have you accepted His gift of eternal life through Jesus?