babyloniaPatience only stretches so far, even when discussing the patience of the Lord. As we have read through some 380 years of the people of God – from the start of Solomon’s reign to the end of the nation of Judah – we have seen kings rise and fall, with some following God’s ways (and prospering) – while most ignore Him and come to a destructive end. What began as a strong and influential Israeli nation under Solomon digressed into civil war and a kingdom divided – and ended with both portions of that once glorious kingdom being conquered and led off into captivity.

While 1-2 Kings and the beginning of 1 Chronicles deals with both the kings of Israel (northern section) and the kings of Judah (southern section); most of 1-2 Chronicles follows the circumstances of the southern kingdom of Judah (Israel having already been overtaken and hauled off into captivity by Assyria in 721 B.C.). As we have seen – despite the occasional good king, Judah failed to heed the warning of her sister state, and instead basically ignored God – leading to the same demise under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

The deportation of the Jewish people from Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar took place in 3 sections:

  • The first group of exiles around 597 B.C. during the reign of Jehoikim. It was at this time that Daniel and the rest of the ruling elite were taken into captivity – as recorded in Daniel 1:1-6.

  • The second group taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar took place just a little over 3 months later during the reign of Jehoichin (also known as Jeconiah). Esther and Mordecai were part of this group.

  • The final seize of Jerusalem – culminating in her destruction and the rest of the Jews drug into slavery (minus the very poor) took place 11 years later in 586 B.C. under the reign of Zedekiah.

God refers to Nebuchadnezzar as His “servant” several times in Scripture (Jer 27:6); and He makes it quite clear that the reason He raised up Nebuchadnezzar as leader of the Babylonian Empire was to punish His people for their sins. We must not see this as a rash decision on God’s part – but instead one which I’m sure He agonized over for years. His patience can be easily seen in the writings of the many Prophets, whom God sent to both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in His effort to warn them and draw them back to Him – to stave off what was sure to come as a result of disobedience. (In fact – it was Jeremiah who was serving in the role of Prophet during the deportation of Judah to Babylon. King Zedekiah, the final king of Judah, had a very cantankerous relationship with Jeremiah and is spoken of many times in the book bearing Jeremiah’s name).

Notice this set of verses at the end of 2 Chronicles:

And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent to them persistently by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God and despising His words and scoffing at His prophets till the wrath of the Lord rose against His people, till there was no remedy or healing.” – 2 Chr 36:15-16 AMP

God had been patient with His people… yet, despite countless warnings and pleadings, they ignored Him and chose to go the way they did – ending in their destruction.

(To read more about Nebuchadnezzar – go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadnezzar_II).

But, as always, grace prevails… and God did not forget His promises to His people (for David’s sake). At the end of 2 Chronicles we are told that after the fulfillment of 70 years (as predicted by both Jeremiah & Daniel) – that God raised up another “servant” (Isaiah 45:1) named Cyrus – king of Persia. Cyrus had adopted a policy in which he respected the cultures and religions of the nations he conquered. So, in 539 B.C., the Persians destroyed the Babylonians – and the very next year, King Cyrus allowed the Jewish people to go back to their land and rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

(To read more about Cyrus – go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great).

So, we have come to the end of the monarchy of Israel – and have progressed almost 1/3 of the way through the Bible. Next we enter the books of Ezra and Nehemiah – which will tell us about the Israelites return to their land (after their release by Cyrus) – and the rebuilding of both the Temple (Ezra) and the Walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah) – both of which had been destroyed by the Babylonian siege.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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