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Jerusalem is again besieged. Zedekiah is taken, his sons slain and his eyes put out. The close of the chapter relates that Jehoiachin, who had been long captive in Babylon, was brought out of prison by the kindness of the king, and set at his table.
As we read in the foregoing chapter that Jerusalem was taken, and here that it was besieged, we should remember in order to have a clear apprehension of the history, that though Jerusalem had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, yet it was not totally subdued as a kingdom, because the conqueror appointed a king to govern it. But here we find a total ruin. And what made the approach and siege of Jerusalem now yet more terrible was, God's judgments were upon it. A famine joined with the sword to avenge God's quarrel with his people for their sin. Alas! to what a state will sin reduce any and every man! I wish the Reader, while attending to the history of the total overthrow of Jerusalem, would read the prophecy of Jeremiah, and especially the book of Lamentations, all of which relate to this occasion. It should seem, from what Jeremiah told Zedekiah, that he had it in commission from the Lord to point out yet a method of deliverance, but Zedekiah rejected the counsel of God, as sinners still do against their own souls. See Jeremiah 37:0 ; Jeremiah 38:0 ; Jeremiah 39:0 .
The history in this place is but shortly related, just to manifest God's certain judgments: but very long and painful must have been the process of them in their execution. Jeremiah had been long preaching of them, and was much opposed, as faithful ministers are, more or less, in all ages in this service. Hannaniah the lying prophet, had daringly opposed him, and was as awfully cut off. But yet these judgments left no lasting effect upon the minds of the people. See Jeremiah 28:0 .
Pause, Reader! over the perusal of these verses. Behold the very temple of the Lord amidst the general ruins. And now Zion is plowed as a field, as the prophet Micah had foretold; Micah 3:12 . which prophecy the prophet Jeremiah quotes in confirmation of his own. See Jeremiah 26:18 . Thus the temple of Solomon, which had stood the ornament of the whole world for more than 420 years, was now rased to the ground. Jeremiah most pathetically laments over this in his book of Lamentations 4:12; Lamentations 4:12 . It hath been said by historians, (and I believe they gathered the account from Josephus) that in the after ages of the church, when, as our Lord predicted Jerusalem should the second time be destroyed by the Romans, as here it was by the Chaldeans, both events were accomplished on the very same day of the month.
Here we have the final account of Judah as a kingdom. So that from Joshua's days, in which it began to be formed, to the last of its kings, Zedeciah, it stood about 850 or 860 years. And the church's history now begins from the Babylonish captivity. Daniel and Ezekiel were the two prophets, whose ministry was exercised in Babylon during the 70 years which the Lord had determined for its desolation. See Jer_25:8-13; Jer_29:10-14 . See also Isaiah 23:15
Jeremiah had told Baruch that his life should be given for a prey, and here we find certain of the people were preserved, Jeremiah 45:5 . It was the mercy of God, in the midst of judgment, to incline the King of Babylon to preserve some of the people, and to have Gedaliah, a faithful man, made Governor. And no doubt many of the faithful availed themselves of his mild government. But yet we see, even in the midst of judgments, as in the case of Ishmael, how evil men will exercise their dreadful purposes. What became of those who upon this event fled to Egypt, is not said. Perhaps the Lord had some gracious design in the permission. See Isaiah in that sweet prophecy, Isaiah 19:18-25 .
It is hardly possible to read the wonderful change in the circumstances of Jehoiachin, who, after so long a period as thirty-seven years lying in a prison, is brought forth to liberty, and to the king's table, without having our minds led out in the contemplation, how wonderful the changes sometimes are in human life. But oh! what a change is that in grace, when from the prison of death and sin, the soul is brought forth to the light and liberty of the gospel. When Jesus opens the door in conversion, and calls forth the captives of Satan from the prison-house! When by the blood of his Covenant, Jehovah sends forth his prisoners of hope from the pit in which is no water. Zechariah 9:11 . And Reader! carry on the idea, and think if it be possible, what everlasting freedom that will be, when death itself shall, at the voice of Jesus, give up his dead, and all the children of Jesus shall sit down at his table, to go out no more! Precious thought! may it warm my heart amidst all the changeable events in the providences of my God and Saviour, during the whole of this life, and amidst the revolutions of all things here below: may it be the portion of both Writer and Reader to live on an unchangeable God in Christ Jesus, who is now the peace of his people, and will be their glory forevermore!
READER! we are brought to the final close of Judah's history as a kingdom in this Chapter; and therefore let us pause over the subject, and in beholding the desolated state of Zion as a church, take up the lamentation of the mournful prophet and say, How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed!
And as we pause and behold the desolation, let us look back at her former felicity, and ask the cause of her present ruin. Beautiful for situation, (said one of old) the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. Here was not only the royal city of David, but the holy city of our God, even David's Lord. It was the Lord that founded Zion, (saith one that answereth the messengers of the nation) and the poor of his people shall trust in it. But where is she now? The Lord hath cast down Zion in the day of his fierce anger.
And wherefore hath the Lord done this to Zion? Alas! alas! because Zion hath forsaken her God, therefore is she gone into captivity, and her kings and priests with her. But will the Lord cast off forever? Will he be no more intreated? Is his mercy clean gone forever? And will he shut up his loving-kindness in displeasure?
Reader! connect with this view the precious redemption by Jesus. Behold him who came for the recovery of Zion, not merely from the captivity of Babylon, but from the more dreadful captivity of sin and death. Look at Jesus in the accomplishment of redemption, opening the doors of confinement: bringing the prisoners from the prison, and them that sat in darkness out of the prison-house. Yes, blessed Jesus the Spirit of the Lord was upon thee, and thou hast come to make a thorough change in all the circumstances of thy people; and not merely to bring thy captives, like Jehoiachin, from the prison to thy table, but to exchange their prison-garments to the robes of salvation and glory. Thou wilt bring them all home to thy house; thou wilt raise up the tabernacles of David that are fallen down, for according to thy promise we look for new heavens and a new earth, even the new Jerusalem, wherein righteousness shall dwell forever. Hail! thou holy, blessed, Lord Jesus! Hail thou Almighty conqueror of all the foes of our salvation! Shortly thou wilt come to take all thy banished ones home, and the ransomed of Zion shall return with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Kings 25". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany