Today’s reading concludes the history of the kingdom of Judah. Since the days of Moses God had warned Israel where unfaithfulness would land them — out of the Promised Land. But Satan continued his lie to the people and their leaders — just like the lie he told Adam and Eve — that God didn’t really mean it. Israel and her leaders believed Satan’s lie that service to other gods, that becoming like other nations, and that trusting in their military rather than God would insure prosperity and security. And the more they believed it, the farther away from God they drifted.
God continued to work with them. He punished them bring them back around and he forgave them when repented. But after Manasseh’s terrible reign of evil, God and His just nature could no longer relent. And God chose to use Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to be His rod of punishment.
In 24:1,2 we find Babylon conquering Judah and taking the cream of Judean society off to exile. Daniel and his three friends were among those who were taken (see Daniel 1:1). But it wasn’t long until Judah rebelled against Babylon (24:11ff), and Nebuchadnezzar came up against the city again and set up a puppet government (24:17). But Judah rebelled yet again (24:20) and this time Nebuchadnezzar razed Jerusalem to the ground (25:9,10) and thoroughly plundered everything of value, while taking the vast majority of the people off into exile — just as God had promised. Nebuchadnezzar appointed a governor, but even the remnant of Judah rebelled and killed the governor — then fled to Egypt (25:25,26).
Hmmm. You’ve got to wonder at what point the Jews would have finally figured out that God was determined to punish them and there was going to be no way around it. I suppose no one wanted to believe it could be true. They were the chosen people, and God had always been forgiving before. So they squirmed and rebelled and wriggled to escape the punishment — all to no avail.
We do the same things. We sin, we trust in the wrong things, and then we try to escape the consequences. But the outcome is always the same: the punishment comes anyway “… according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken through His servants the prophets.” 2 Kings 24:2, NAS95. We must be careful in our lives, as the writer of Hebrews warned, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” Hebrews 2:1-4, NAS95.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.