2 Kings 25:8-30 – It’s Only When You Hit Rock Bottom That You Can Look Up

Posted: October 23, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 25:8-30

The End of Judah

Again, I am reminded today of the ravages of addiction as a comparison to what happened to ancient Israel. The combined kingdoms to the north and now the south are gone. What was once a thriving nation and a regional power in the ancient Middle East is now destroyed and laid low. What was once the home of King Solomon that drew foreign dignitaries from all over Africa, the Middle East and the other regions is now a desolate shell. All the people of Jerusalem are either shipped off to Babylon or have been killed. Only the poor and destitute remain. In the final hours of Jerusalem, things had gotten so bad that during the siege of Jerusalem people starved to death and some resorted to cannibalism. How far Israel had fallen.

I am reminded of how substance addictions can do the same thing to people as did the pride, arrogance, and idol worship did to the people of Israel. Addictions can lead you away from God. Addictions can cause you to worship only the drug of your addiction. It can cause you to lie, cheat and steal to get what you want. Ancient Israel was similar in that there was always political intrigue that led to a weakened nation and led people to do evil things to get or maintain power. They quit worshiping God and began worshiping themselves. They were no longer a set apart nation. They became what they thought they would never become. A pagan nation worshiping idols. Drug addiction consumes who you once were to the point that the person you once knew is no longer. An addicted person will lie, cheat and steal to get and maintain their addictions. They will make alliances with people that will use and abuse them just to maintain their addiction. They will throw away a good life just to get what they want.

The definition of insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. You see this in ancient Israel and in an addicted person. In the southern kingdom, they saw the idol worship and intrigue and pride and self-destruction that took place in the northern kingdom that led to its subjugation by Assyria (and then later Babylon when Babylon conquered Assyria). That was not warning enough for Judah to change its ways and return to God. They kept doing the same things that Israel was doing because, well, it’s different for us. We are not like Israel but yet they were exactly the same doing the same things. It led to their ruin as well. You often see addicted persons think that what happens to other addicts will not happen to them because it’s me, I am different from that person.

All in all, you both end up in the same place. Israel and Judah lie in ruins and now have lost everything that ever meant anything to them. The same is true for addicted persons. They will not realize their own destruction until they have lost everything and sometimes are living on the streets or in their car. Sometimes, it takes losing everything to wake a nation up. Sometimes, it takes losing everything to wake an addicted person up to the reality that they have indeed lost everything to their addiction.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read this final passage of 2 Kings and the end of the original united kingdom of Israel as we have known it from the biblical record. Israel/Judah is done. Finished. Never to be the same again. Jerusalem is a shell of the greatness it once had. What can happen from here? This is rock bottom. Their freedom is gone. Their nation is gone. Their prized city is destroyed. They are no more. What can happen from here? Let’s read this final passage, 2 Kings 25:8-30, now:

8 In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He burned the house of the Lord, the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 10 All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had defected to the king of Babylon—all the rest of the population. 12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest people of the land to be vinedressers and tillers of the soil.

13 The bronze pillars that were in the house of the Lord, as well as the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried the bronze to Babylon. 14 They took away the pots, the shovels, the snuffers, the dishes for incense, and all the bronze vessels used in the temple service, 15 as well as the firepans and the basins. What was made of gold the captain of the guard took away for the gold, and what was made of silver, for the silver. 16 As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands, which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weighing. 17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and on it was a bronze capital; the height of the capital was three cubits; latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were on the capital all around. The second pillar had the same, with the latticework.

18 The captain of the guard took the chief priest Seraiah, the second priest Zephaniah, and the three guardians of the threshold; 19 from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the soldiers, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city; the secretary who was the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 The king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah went into exile out of its land.

22 He appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan as governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had left. 23 Now when all the captains of the forces and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite. 24 Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials; live in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.” 25 But in the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men; they struck down Gedaliah so that he died, along with the Judeans and Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 26 Then all the people, high and low,[c] and the captains of the forces set out and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

Jehoiachin Released from Prison

27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison; 28 he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the other seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes. Every day of his life he dined regularly in the king’s presence. 30 For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion every day, as long as he lived.

In this passage, we see the end of ancient Israel as we have known it from the biblical record with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It is done. From the height of Israel’s power as a united kingdom when the Temple was completed in 962 BC until now, in 587 BC, 375 years has passed. That’s how quickly the combined kingdoms of Israel and Judah descended from their glory years under Solomon until the disappearance of what was ancient Israel. The temple was destroyed and Jerusalem the crown jewel of the two kingdoms now lay in ruins. It is the rock bottom moment of ancient Israel. The question becomes will Israel return to God? They have lost everything and are now in captivity and subject to the leadership of a foreign power, Babylon. They freedom they once enjoyed is now limited to the whims of the king of Babylon.

This story of the sad trail of destruction for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah so reminds of a substance abuse addiction problem. Israel and Judah got enticed by the self-desires and self-lusts that straying from God will lead you into. Once you get started on that drug of straying from God and feeling that you do not need Him anymore is addictive. Self-determination. Making ourselves our own god. Lusting after the things that we want. Seeing God as holding you back from the desires of your heart are more appealing that simply obeying God. Sometimes obeying God seems the harder thing so worshiping ourselves is the easy way out addiction.

Sometimes the only way to help an addict is for them to realize that they have hit rock bottom. It is only when an addict has lost everything that they can begin to realize the destruction that their chosen substance has wrought in their life. An addiction can become so powerful that it blinds you to the things that you are losing until everything is gone and you even lose the ability to finance your addiction anymore. It is only then, when the addiction has used you up and left you laying literally in the street, that change is possible.

For us in our relationship with God, it often takes getting to the end of ourselves before we realize that we need God’s help. We do not have to be a substance abuser to be an idol worshiper. We can worship ourselves without addictions. We can lust after anything that is not God and those things will ultimately lead us to destruction. It is only often that when we have reached the rock bottom of our life that we can see that we need God. It is only then that when we have reached the end of ourselves and what a mess we have made of our lives that we can see Jesus. It is only then that we can let go of our idols whatever they may be and seek God’s help through Jesus to change our lives from the inside out. It is only then often that we are ready to be a child of God ready to obey Him. It is only then that we can see obedience to God as that which is good for us instead of restricting us. It is only then that we can look up from rock bottom.

Amen and Amen.

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