18Next, Nebuzaradan arrested Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah his assistant, and three temple officials. 19Then he arrested one of the army commanders, the king's five personal advisors, and the officer in charge of gathering the troops for battle. He also found 60 more soldiers who were still in Jerusalem. 20Nebuzaradan led them all to Riblah 21near Hamath, where Nebuchadnezzar had them killed.
Most of the people of Judah had been carried away as captives from their own country.
Gedaliah Is Made Ruler
(Jeremiah 40.7-9; 41.1-3)
22 King Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam to rule the few people still living in Judah. 23When the army officers and troops heard that Gedaliah was their ruler, the officers met with him at Mizpah. These men were Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth from Netophah, and Jaazaniah from Maacah.
24Gedaliah said to them, “Everything will be fine, I promise. We don't need to be afraid of the Babylonian rulers, if we live here peacefully and do what Nebuchadnezzar says.”
25 Ishmael was from the royal family. And about two months after Gedaliah began his rule, Ishmael and ten other men went to Mizpah. They killed Gedaliah and his officials, including those from Judah and those from Babylonia. 26 After that, the army officers and all the people in Mizpah, whether important or not, were afraid of what the Babylonians might do. So they left Judah and went to Egypt.
Jehoiachin Is Set Free
27Jehoiachin was a prisoner in Babylon for 37 years. Then Evil-Merodach became king of Babylonia, and in the first year of his rule, on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month, he let Jehoiachin out of prison. 28Evil-Merodach was kind to Jehoiachin and honored him more than any of the other kings held prisoner there. 29Jehoiachin was even allowed to wear regular clothes, and he ate at the king's table every day. 30As long as Jehoiachin lived, he was paid a daily allowance to buy whatever he needed.
Have you ever sung “Onward Christian Soldiers?” One of the stanzas reminds us, “Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane…” Some of us are more interested in politics than others. We’re all living in kingdoms that are either rising or waning in their strength.
Today’s reading takes a snapshot at the close of a declining kingdom. What are some principles we may all learn from this closing months of a nation on its last legs?
- Nations, like individuals, reap what they sow.
For years God’s people had neglected him, treated his commands as optional and marched to their own drumbeat. Now, God was allowing them to reap the harvest. Turmoil, violence, disorientation, and a lack of personal and national peace prevailed.
The warnings for us in the story flash like a dashboard indicator light. Turmoil, whether national or personal, should drive to serious self-examination.
- Promises are easier made than kept.
The appointed governor tried to inspire the remaining troops and promised them peace if they would just yield to their captors. Within two months he himself and those who had heard these “guarantees” were put to death.
We’re called to build our hope not on political assertions but on the firm foundation of God’s word. Let’s double down on our commitment to become well versed in Scripture.
- Living with convictions is much more difficult than compromise.
Jehoiachin accepted his foreign host’s offer to eat at the king’s table. Consider the contrast with Daniel (Daniel 1:8) who refused to indulge in the royal diet prescribed by his captors. Our lifestyle choices in the communities in which we live should reflect clear biblical convictions. Are we really living differently than those who make no assertion of faith?
Father, thank you that we are called to “declare your glory among the nations” in which we live. Help us in our dual citizenship to be actively involved in essential issues in our communities but also to reflect the concerns of a kingdom which will never pass away. Amen.