24 In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon. Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place. And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for the king of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river Euphrates.
Jehoiachin Reigns in Judah
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.
Zedekiah Reigns in Judah
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
2 Kings 24 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It finally happened. Judah was invaded and taken into captivity. Babylon was the new world leader. They’d overthrown the mighty Assyrians and taken down Egypt and so in 605 BC they invaded Judah and brought it under their control. This would be the first of 3 different invasions in the next 20 years. With each invasion, they took captives back to their capital of Babylon. So for instance, Daniel was taken in this first wave.
Politically in the scheme of things, Babylonian troops were already on their way when King Jehoiakim died. His son, Jehoiakim (don’t get confused by these names) was immediately placed in leadership. Imagine, stepping in as a leader as war is impending and the greatest army of the earth is coming against you! It would be when Nebuchadnezzar himself, king of Babylon, took Jerusalem, Johoiakin and his family surrendered and were taken prisoner. The Babylonians looted the palace and temple and then took with him all the people of distinction and worth in his eyes to Babylon.
The Babylonians were different than other nations when taking captives. For they only took the strong and skilled. They always left the poor behind to fend for themselves, which would work in their favor as the people left would eventually turn their loyalty to Babylon. Those who were taken captive were permitted to live together, find jobs and become part of the Babylonian society. It’s really a most interesting aspect to think about. These worldly policies would be what kept the Jews alive during their captivity and ultimately would allow them to return to their homeland under Ezra 70 years later.
God had warned His people to turn from their ways and follow Him. He countlessly gave mercy to them to do so. Their hearts were so hardened they had to learn the hard way of His being God and in control of all. His words came true and they were carted off to captivity. But in that, His mercy still extended. He used the Babylonian policies of war to keep a remnant alive. Although their lives were in upheaval they were sustained. Even in their punishment, God extended mercy.
We may not be carted off to war or be held as prisoners – but God still does discipline. Yet even in that discipline – He gives mercy toward one day turning back to Him in fullness.
2 Kings 24 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
This is such a tough time for Judah. Jeremiah had been prophesying about Babylonian captivity for quite some time. This was the voice of God. Josiah, in the previous chapter, had found God’s ways documented from long ago. This was God’s Word. The leaders of Judah had the voice of God and the Word of God. What went wrong?
God Isn’t Who I Want Him To Be
The kings did evil in God’s sight. The true believers were persecuted and killed. The survivors were carried off to Babylon.
Indeed, this happened to Judah at the LORD’s command to remove them from His sight. It was because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all he had done, 4 and also because of all the innocent blood he had shed. He had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not forgive.2 Kings 24:3-4 HCSB
For the kings, God was not who they wanted Him to be. Most were merely concerned for themselves. They wanted a god who was easygoing and compromising. Manasseh had shed innocent blood and this angered the Lord. For those who were innocent and suffered in death, they may have had the same thought. Where was God when they were being slaughtered for no good reason? And for men like Daniel who were taken away to Babylon with the first wave, it would have been easy to feel sorry for themselves. Where is God in all this turmoil?
We want a God who is fair and just. We want a God full of mercy. But we don’t want that same God to interfere with our own plans, right? We definitely don’t want His tough love.
It is important to realize that although God may allow for events to happen that we deem as unnecessary, He does not make mistakes. His character does not let sin slide by unpunished. His grace is always more evident than we realize. This takes faith, and it’s not developed logically or intellectually. It is a gift from God that allows us to trust Him even when it makes no sense.
Ironically, after all of their time in captivity, most of the Jews still had it in their heads that God’s will was to conquer their enemies once and for all. As Jesus stepped onto the scene, they were fully convinced that if He was the Messiah, He would deliver them from the Romans and lead their people as an independent and powerful nation. Some still believe this today.
What happens when God isn’t who we thought He was?
I see a part of myself when I read of how the captives were marched out of their land into captivity. I’m sure they were wagging their heads back and forth as they walked along wondering what just happened. But if God made complete sense to me, and I could figure Him out, then what kind of God would He be?
Is it possible that in our darkest moments we’ve made assumptions about God’s will that aren’t true? As we refuse to submit, we grumble and march along to our captivity wondering when God will REALLY do what He’s “supposed to do.” The strongest message I’ve taken from this chapter is the fact that God will do whatever it takes – tough love and all – to grow His people and stay true to His character. He’s always right. He’s always faithful. Amazingly, He always gives grace for us to return back to Him in fullness one day.
He will right every wrong. He will wipe every tear. There is no promise that will be left unfulfilled.