Ezra and Nehemiah: 2 Kings 24:18-25:21

Ezra and Nehemiah: 2 Kings 24:18-25:21

The destruction of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem was the Lord’s righteous judgment against his people for their sin. The people were scattered and put into captivity in Babylon. Let’s read from scripture how Jerusalem was conquered.
18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 19 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 It was because of the LORD’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 2 The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. 3 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, 5 but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, 6 and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

8 On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 10 The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon. 12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

13 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 15 The commander of the imperial guard took away the censers and sprinkling bowls-all that were made of pure gold or silver.

16 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the movable stands, which Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. 17 Each pillar was twenty-seven feet high. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was four and a half feet high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its network, was similar.

18 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.
The people of Israel were cast from the presence of the Lord. To be cast out from the Lord’s gracious presence is to experience judgment. Usually, the Bible speaks of the Lord’s presence as his favor, grace, and mercy. The Lord graciously dwells with his people; this is a blessing. However, to be removed from his presence is certainly a curse.
This was not an unannounced judgment. On September 17, 592, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the Lord’s glory departing the temple (Ezekiel 10).  After being plundered, Jerusalem and the temple were burned the Babylonians on August 28, 587 BC. Because of their unrepentant sin, the Lord removed his presence from the temple.
Because of our sin, we, too, should be removed from the presence of God. In fact, because of our sin, if we even tried to stand before God, his holiness would kill us. We are unable and unworthy to be near God or to bask in his presence. And yet, I can tell you with complete confidence that I will stand before the presence of God one day. What gives? Am I perfect? Am I without sin? Certainly not. But my Savior is without sin. And my Savior took my sin and your sin on himself. He took the punishment of my sin and was forsaken by his Father in heaven. Jesus was cast away from his presence. This why hell is so terrible. Hell is eternity without the face of God shining on you. So thank God that you are free to enter into the presence of God. And look with joy to seeing the face of your smiling Lord.