Thursday, September 21, 2017

We can’t go home…

Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD's judgment is near. The LORD has prepared His people for a great slaughter and has chosen their executioners. "On that day of judgment," says the LORD, "I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs. Yes, I will punish those who participate in pagan worship ceremonies, and those who fill their masters' houses with violence and deceit. (Zephaniah 1:7-9 NLT)

Judah is about to be attacked, beaten, and the remaining people deported.  Josiah did well and led others to do well, but it was not enough.  The LORD does not punish the good.  There were simply not enough people who, like Josiah, chose to do good.  So, the downward spiral continued.

The LORD first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah. The LORD's messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah's son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of Josiah's sons. In August of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives. (Jeremiah 1:2-3 NLT)

The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the kings and the people of Judah all during this next phase of life.  But they did not listen.  When Josiah died in battle, his son, Jehoahaz, became king and did bad for the whole three months of his reign.  Then Jehoahaz’s son, Jehoiakim, took over.  He did so bad that the LORD allowed Babylon to attack and beat them in the eighth year of his reign.  He paid tribute to the Babylonian king for three years before he rebelled.  Then his son, Jehoiachin took over but was imprisoned after three months.  Finally, Mattaniah was appointed by the Babylonian king as the king of Judah.  The Babylonian king changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah.  That’s because the Babylonian king had the power to change his name and the power to control all of Judah.

These things happened because of the LORD's anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until He finally banished them from His presence and sent them into exile. Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. Then King Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan as governor over the people he had left in Judah.  (2 Kings 24:20; 25:22 NLT)

Any attempt to fight back against the Babylonian empire simply failed.  They were too big.  They were too powerful.  More than all of that, they were the arm of the LORD against a rebellious people: Judah.

But in midautumn of that year, Ishmael son of Nethaniah...who was of the royal family...killed Gedaliah. Then all the people of Judah, from the least to the greatest, as well as the army commanders, fled in panic to Egypt, for they were afraid of what the Babylonians would do to them. (2 Kings 25:25-26 NLT)

Israel is beaten, captured, and deported.  Judah is beaten, captured, and deported.  This all happened because they stopped walking together with God.  They can’t go home.

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