2 Chronicles 36:11-23 – Jerusalem Falls and Then…

black and white photo of feet in shackles

Read 2 Chronicles 36:11-23

It’s never easy to read the account of Jerusalem falling knowing it could have been prevented. It breaks my heart that the prophets of God were treated like they were. We’re told how the people “scoffed at the prophets until the Lord’s anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.” God’s patience had come to an end.

Our reading begins with Zedekiah’s evil leadership. The Chronicler tells us, “Zedekiah was a hard and stubborn man, refusing to turn to the LORD, the God of Israel.” Was it his stubbornness that kept him from acknowledging King Nebuchadnezzar, the very one who made him king? Zedekiah’s oath of loyalty meant nothing.

Enough was enough, and the LORD took action. God used Babylon’s king to bring Judah to their knees. Already, God had allowed two kings in the line of David to be taken into captivity in Babylon. Now it was time to destroy the kingdom and people for their wickedness.

It wasn’t a pretty time in the history of God’s people. Yet we see how an angry God can set things straight. It wasn’t like God didn’t give the people opportunity to repent and avoid this catastrophe. God had to follow through on the doom he had foretold through the prophets.

The Chronicler gives Jeremiah the nod here as the prophet who had brought these true words from God. Oh, how all of heaven must have been wailing at the destruction of the holy city.

From the Chronicler’s perspective, he knew what happened at the seventy-year mark for those held captive in Babylon. When Jeremiah wrote about the seventy-year captivity, he would have not have the opportunity to see this play out. But the Chronicler fills in the gap and lets us know that Persia played an important role.

We then jump seventy years to meet a new king in control, having overtaken the Babylonian empire. It doesn’t take Cyrus, the Persian king, long at all to set God’s people free. Again, God stirred in the heart of a foreigner to do miraculous things.

Cyrus’ decree of freedom for the captives would have made the headlines. What do you think the people thought when Cyrus said about their God and their freedom? “He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!”

His words will also open the Book of Ezra, also written by the Chronicler. The prophets Ezekiel and Daniel would have been taken into exile and lived in Babylon. For insights into what the people in exile faced during those seventy years, their writing may shed some light.

The Chronicler connects the dots for us on so much of God’s history, from Adam up through and including the return from captivity found in Ezra and Nehemiah. His focus has been on worshipping the one true God. That’s a message that we can never hear too much. Spend time worshipping God today.

colorful animation of prayer hands and hearts and flowersLet’s pray. LORD, thank you for how your story continues to be written and includes me. It’s hard for me to read how people turned their backs on you despite your attempts to open their eyes. I see that happening all around me even today. It’s unbelievable that people would continue to rebel and go their own way. Use me to help others see you. Like a prophet, I want speak your truth. As the Chronicler, I worship you with my all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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