(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Above is a rendering of the final fall of Jerusalem (and the kingdom of Judah) to the Babylonians in 586 BC. Jerusalem and the LORD’s temple are burning, many Jews have been killed, and the survivors are being marched a thousand miles away to Babylon!
Why such devastation? God had warned the Israelites, even before they arrived in the Promised Land of Canaan, that they would be blessed if they obeyed the LORD, and cursed if they did not! (see Leviticus 26:1 through 39). This was carried out over the succeeding centuries!
- The united kingdom of Israel split in 931 BC when Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne. The ten northern tribes formed their own kingdom, keeping the name of Israel.
✡ They had a total of nineteen kings, all wicked, over the next 209 years! ✡ They were conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC, never again to be a kingdom!
- The southern kingdom was called Judah.
✡ Nineteen kings and one queen ruled for a total of 345 years, a mixture of godly, not-so-godly, and very wick- ed rulers! ✡ Three invasions by the Babylonians over nineteen years (605, 597, and 586 BC) resulted in the seventy-year Babylonian captivity.
The Jews did not have an independent nation again until 1948!
Let’s concentrate on Judah’s downfall! A lot of sin had built up over the centuries, iniquity that so incensed God that He cast the Israelites out of His sight! But I want to focus on just one person and the sin he so blatantly practiced – Manasseh, son of King Hezekiah.
On August 31st of last year, I wrote a Gem called A Bad King In Heaven! It concerned Manasseh, who ruled over the southern kingdom of Judah for fifty-five years (the longest reigning king in Israel/Judah’s history). Manasseh was a terribly wicked king. However we are told in II Chronicles 33:11 through 13:
Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his suppli- cation, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.
Manasseh whole-heartedly repented! But it took bronze fetters on his hands, the chains of a slave, a hook through the septum of his nose, and a rough and painful thousand mile trip to Babylon! But repent he did, and God restored him to his kingdom. Back in Jerusalem, and now as a godly ruler, he tried to undo the years of his sinful reign, but the Judean Jews only responded half-heartedly (see II Chronicles 33:17). By the time fifty years had passed, during the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, this is what is recorded in II Chronicles 36:14 through 16:
Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people trans- gressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy.
For about forty-five years, Jeremiah was a prophet sent by God to the southern kindom of Judah. He is called “The Weeping Prophet ” because of the many tears he shed over the sins of his people! He was there at the end when Nebachunezzar, king of Babylon, finally ordered an end to Jerusalem and Judea! He lived through all the horror and destruction! This is what he wrote in Jeremiah 15:1 through 4, our featured Scripture:
Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this peo- ple. Cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.”’ And I will ap- point over them four forms of destruction,” says the LORD: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the hea- vens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Ju- dah, for what he did in Jerusalem.”
Consider the last verse: “I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.” Although Manasseh repented, his sin marred the people of his nation! When they did not sincerely repent, the LORD said He will “Cast them out of My sight….” (Jeremiah 15:1).
Personal Sin – National Disaster!
Let us pray that the sins of our leaders do not give such license to the ‘common folk’ of our nation that God will cast US out of His sight!