INTERESTING FACTS : JOHN DICKINSON, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION; GOVERNOR OF PENNSYLVANIA; GOVERNOR OF DELAWARE; GENERAL IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
"RENDERING THANKS TO MY CREATOR FOR MY EXISTENCE AND STATION AMONG HIS WORKS, FOR MY BIRTH IN A COUNTRY ENLIGHTENED BY THE GOSPEL AND ENJOYING FREEDOM, AND FOR ALL HIS OTHER KINDNESSES, TO HIM I RESIGN MYSELF, HUMBLY CONFIDING IN HIS GOODNESS AND IN HIS MERCY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST FOR THE EVENTS OF ETERNITY."
DAILY READING : 2 KINGS 23 - 25; 1 CHRONICLES 1 - 3
TEXT : 2Ki 24:10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 2Ki 24:11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. 2Ki 24:12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. 2Ki 24:13 And he carried out thence 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 which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. 2Ki 24:14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.
THEME : JUDGMENT
As we end the Book of 2nd Kings and begin 1st Chronicles, we witness the captivity of the two southern tribes of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar. Warned repeatedly that what happened to the ten northern tribes of Israel would happen to them, Judah and her kings did not follow the Lord. Therefore, there was no remedy for Judah, even as the Scriptures declare.
2Ch 36:10 And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem. 2Ch 36:11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 2Ch 36:12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD. 2Ch 36:13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel. 2Ch 36:14 Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 2Ch 36:15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 2Ch 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.
As already mentioned, Jeremiah began to prophesy during the reign of the godly king Josiah, of Judah's sin, of their need to repent, and of certain judgment to come. Yet, the kings of Judah, following the evil example of Israel's kings provoked the Lord to anger. Even as the text above states - the people of God completely rejected the Lord's efforts to spare them by spurning Jeremiah and the other true prophets of God.
"The ruin of Judah and Jerusalem came on by degrees. The methods God takes to call back sinners by his word, by ministers, by conscience, by providences, are all instances of his compassion toward them, and his unwillingness that any should perish. See here what woeful havoc sin makes, and, as we value the comfort and continuance of our earthly blessings, let us keep that worm from the root of them. They had many times ploughed and sowed their land in the seventh year, when it should have rested, and now it lay unploughed and unsown for ten times seven years. God will be no loser in his glory at last, by the disobedience of men. If they refused to let the land rest, God would make it rest. What place, O God, shall thy justice spare, if Jerusalem has perished? If that delight of thine were cut off for wickedness, let us not be high-minded, but fear." [Matthew Henry]
We would do well to take heed to the example of Judah and Israel here in America. Founded on the Bible and godly principles as you can observe from the recent quotations from the founding fathers - most of whom signed the Declaration of Independence and, or, the U.S. Constitution etc. we are following the same dangerous path of Judah and Israel. Since we know God is no respecter of persons, judgment awaits our nation as we see in Judah and Israel if we, the Church, do not repent. We need a revival of true holiness and a return to the old paths, less we provoke God in the same manner as those who went before us.
Flavius Josephus in his - Antiquities of the Jews, writes of the ignorance of men who cannot see the results of rebellion against God and are unmindful of His [Holy] Nature. He writes specifically on the captivity of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar.
"We have said thus much, because it was sufficient to show the nature of God to such as are ignorant of it, that it is various, and acts many different ways, and that all events happen after a regular manner, in their proper season, and that it foretells what must come to pass. It is also sufficient to show the ignorance and incredulity of men, whereby they are not permitted to foresee any thing that is future, and are, without any guard, exposed to calamities, so that it is impossible for them to avoid the experience of those calamities."
Concerning the [final] fall of Judah, Matthew Henry comments.
"At length the city was taken by storm: it was broken up, 2Ki_25:4. The besiegers made a breach in the wall, at which they forced their way into it. The besieged, unable any longer to defend it, endeavoured to quit it, and make the best of their way; and many, no doubt, were put to the sword, the victorious army being much exasperated by their obstinacy.
The king, his family, and all his great men, made their escape in the night, by some secret passages which the besiegers either had not discovered or did not keep their eye upon, 2Ki_25:4. But those as much deceive themselves who think to escape God's judgments as those who think to brave them; the feet of him that flees from them will as surely fail as the hands of him that fights against them. When God judges he will overcome. Intelligence was given to the Chaldeans of the king's flight, and which way he had gone, so that they soon overtook him, 2Ki_25:5. His guards were scattered from him, every man shifting for his own safety. Had he put himself under God's protection, that would not have failed him now. He presently fell into the enemies' hands, and here we are told what they did with him. 1. He was brought to the king of Babylon, and tried by a council of war for rebelling against him who set him up, and to whom he had sworn fidelity. God and man had a quarrel with him for this; see Eze_17:16, etc. The king of Babylon now lay at Riblah (which lay between Judea and Babylon), that he might be ready to give orders both to his court at home and his army abroad. 2. His sons were slain before his eyes, though children, that this doleful spectacle, the last his eyes were to behold, might leave an impression of grief and horror upon his spirit as long as he lived. In slaying his sons, they showed their indignation at his falsehood, and in effect declared that neither he nor any of his were fit to be trusted, and therefore that they were not fit to live. 3. His eyes were put out, by which he was deprived of that common comfort of human life which is given even to those that are in misery, and to the bitter in soul, the light of the sun, by which he was also disabled for any service. He dreaded being mocked, and therefore would not be persuaded to yield (Jer_38:19), but that which he feared came upon him with a witness, and no doubt added much to his misery; for, as those that are deaf suspect that every body talks of them, so those that are blind suspect that every body laughs at them. By this two prophecies that seemed to contradict one another were both fulfilled. Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah should be brought to Babylon, Jer_32:5; Jer_34:3. Ezekiel prophesied that he should not see Babylon, Eze_12:13. He was brought thither, but, his eyes being put out, he did not see it. Thus he ended his days, before he ended his life. 4. He was bound in fetters of brass and so carried to Babylon. He that was blind needed not be bound (his blindness fettered him), but, for his greater disgrace, they led him bound; only, whereas common malefactors are laid in irons (Psa_105:18; Psa_107:10), he, being a prince, was bound with fetters of brass; but that the metal was somewhat nobler and lighter was little comfort, while still he was in fetters. Let it not seem strange if those that have been held in the cords of iniquity come to be thus held in the cords of affliction, Job_36:8."
TRUTH FOR TODAY : NEVER FORSAKE YOUR OWN MERCY!
In the Book of Jonah we read - "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." [Jon_2:8]
Judah had listened to accommodating and flattering preaching of the false prophets who led them directly into the judgment of God. Oddly, the people of God preferred the fawning, deceitful, and indulging statements of the false prophets to the true. Jeremiah, who spoke to these [same] people transcribed the Word of the Lord when he wrote - "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" [Jer_5:31]
Likewise, Isaiah also writes of the people's distaste for the true Word of God, though he precedes Jeremiah by about 200 years.
Isa 30:8 Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Isa 30:10 Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Isa 30:11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. Isa 30:12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: Isa 30:13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. Isa 30:14 And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.
George Santayana best remembered for his maxim - "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," also said something else. In his "Interpretations of Poetry and Religion," he wrote -
"In the Gospels, for instance, we sometimes find the kingdom of heaven illustrated by principles drawn from observation of this world rather than from an ideal conception of justice; as when we hear that to him that hath shall be given and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Such characterizations appeal to our sense of fact. They remind us that the God we are seeking is present and active, that he is the living God; they are doubtless necessary if we are to keep religion from passing into a mere idealism and God into the vanishing point of our thought and endeavour. For we naturally seek to express his awful actuality, his unchallengeable power, no less than his holiness and his beauty." Interpretations of Poetry and Religion (1900)
We read in 2nd Chronicles 36 that God in His mercy sent His servants the prophets to preach repentance. However, in Jonah we see those who [prefer] lying vanities forsake the compassion, leniency, and mercy God wants to show them. We have already noted that an individual can be safe with God even though a nation or group of people is not. We saw this in Josiah's case and Jeremiah's as well. Therefore, we should choose [for ourselves] to do what is right in the sight of the Lord. We should also tell, invite, and warn others then leave the rest in God's Hands. Let us not forsake our own mercy!