What a sad day for Judah! With the arrival of King Nebuchadnezzar’s captain of the guard, Nebuzaradan, Jerusalem would never look the same. Can you imagine the horror of the people remaining in Jerusalem as they witnessed God’s holy temple being destroyed? Then they had to watch while all the expensive trimmings were hauled away.
The Babylonians meant business and were ready to finish off the city. God had given them complete access. More people were taken away into exile. Nebuzaradan saw it prudent to leave the poorest behind to tend the fields. How would it have felt to be left behind in this shell of a city, only to be slaves to the Babylonians? Did they think that life in captivity would be better?
I picture people living in war torn countries in today’s world being huddled together in refugee camps. They, too, have been forced to leave their home countries to save their lives. Living in foreign lands, these people have left everything familiar behind. What desperation they must be feeling! The people of Judah would experience similar feelings of hopelessness. Do you think they ever talked amongst themselves about how they could have prevented all this agony? Did they understand this was the result of their sinfulness as a nation?
In nearly an instant, the glory and majesty of Solomon’s influence on Jerusalem was gone. The monarchy was shattered. The writer of 2 Kings does not sugar coat the catastrophe that descended on Judah. Do we see any hope left behind?
Have you ever gone through a situation where you left everything familiar behind? I’m trying to get my head wrapped around what being exiled must have felt like. Even in our own move to Mexico, it was our choice, and we brought a lot of our “familiar” things. It was never like starting from scratch. I have had friends lose houses to natural disasters like fires and tornados. It can be hard to start over. In the case of those in exile, I can’t imagine what they were enduring through this transition.
Just as Israel had been captured by the Assyrians, Judah was now taken by the Babylonians. The message that rings out to us is, “be obedient to God.” You’ll recall God predicted both exiles through his prophets. God’s heart must have been breaking to have to keep these promises. But the prophets had also been clear on how the people could be delivered. It didn’t happen. God was true to his word.
So, too, we can trust God will be true to all his promises. I, for one, want to cling to some of these promises:
God designed me for a purpose. — Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
God loves me deeply, no matter what. — Romans 8:39 “No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God will strengthen and help me — Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Are you ready to trust God with your life?
Let’s pray … Lord, my heart breaks when I think about how much you were hurt by the people of Israel and Judah. Please forgive me for any hurt I have caused with my own disobedience. Thank you that you have forgiven me and given me hope in Jesus. My gratitude overflows with all the provisions and promises you have for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.