Chapter 24 is the beginning of the end. Nebuchadnezzer king of Babylon invades the land and Judah’s king becomes his vassal, which means there was a mutual agreement to support one another. This situation lasted for three years, but then the king changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzer, and the Babylonians and other armies attacked and destroyed Judah. Here’s why:
3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.
We learned from the Pentateuch that the Lord abhors the shedding of innocent blood.
Another king of Judah comes on the scene doing “evil in the eyes of the Lord just has his father did,” and good old Neb completely plunders Jerusalem, and he takes everything from the temple of the Lord. The most important thing about Israel, what defines it as a people, is now being completely taken apart by their enemies. Very sad. This king of Judah too is taken away to Babylon.
But somehow another king reigns in Jerusalem. It doesn’t say he was the son of the previous king like it normally does, but he too does evil, of course. For some reason these kings have no idea, or refuse to see, that their plight is a direct result of their sin, of their evil. This final king of Judah will pay a heavy price for denying the God of Israel.
For two years Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem, which means famine, and eventually the army fled and the king captured it. The sentence pronounced was horrific:
He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
Just imagine, the last thing the king sees are his sons killed before he is blinded. The wages of sin . . .
And the Babylonians take everything from Jerusalem and burn the city down, complete devastation. But they leave behind the very poorest of the people, who hang around for a while, but eventually too they flee because of threats from the Babylonians.
This all happened in the 590s to 580s BC. Here is a good explanation of The Babylonian Exile from a Jewish perspective. They claim that the real Jewish identity was forged at this time, but they don’t seem to believe that a real living God, the Lord, was in charge and working out his redemptive plans in their history. As I said in my previous post, the story is all about human failure and the necessity God’s salvation because of this human inability. Through it all we are shown the need for Christ, for a Savior who will take our place and give us his righteousness to satisfy the justice and holiness of the Living God.