In our reading today, we meet Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. We see from the very beginning that Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, has become his servant. Babylon was a strong military force that put pressure on other nations to serve them or be conquered. Eventually, Jehoiakim rebels against Nebuchadnezzar, so obviously the Babylonians attack Judah. However, this passage says that the Lord sent them to destroy Judah, “just as the Lord had promised through his prophets.”
Why did God send the Babylonians to cause disaster? “Because of the many sins of Manasseh, who had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood.”
Manasseh was the King of Judah mentioned in 2 Kings 21 who murdered innocent people and led the people of Israel to worship Baal and Asherah. Manasseh did “what was evil in the sight of the Lord,” but his reign brought more evil into Israel than ever before. This guy even sacrificed his son in idol worship.
The Lord brought judgment upon Israel for their idolatry. There are always consequences to sin. 10,000 people of Judah and all the treasures of the Temple were eventually taken to Babylon. This was devastating for Judah. This was the “Promised Land” that God had given to his people. Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God referred to himself as “the God who brought you out of Egypt.” The importance of the land of Israel to the people can not be overemphasized. This wasn’t a vacation. This was a reversal of the Exodus.
But God was faithful to his people. We read in Jeremiah 29:10-11:
“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV).
God promised to deliver his people again from slavery to another people. Just as God brought his people out of the land of Egypt and brought his people out of Babylon (read Ezra-Nehemiah), God has brought his people, Christians, out of slavery to sin.
Questions for today:
What from the passage stuck out to you?
What will you change today based on today’s passage?
By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Apprentice