In his days Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came up.
I. THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN. The wickedness here displayed is marked —
1. By inveteracy. It is here said of Jehoiachin, "He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done." In verse 18 the same is also said of Zedekiah, "He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiachin had done." The wickedness here displayed is marked —
2. By tyranny. "At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came up against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it." What right had Nebuchadnezzar to leave his own country, invade Judah, plunder it of its wealth, and bear away by violence its population? The wickedness here displayed is marked —
3. By inhumanity. "And the King of Babylon... he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon King of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land." The wickedness here displayed is marked —
4. By profanity. "He burnt the house of the Lord," etc. Thus this ruthless despot desecrated the most holy things in the city of Jerusalem and in the memory of millions.
II. THE RETRIBUTION OF HEAVEN. In the retribution here displayed we are reminded of two facts: That the sins of one man may bring misery on millions. "Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon," All the misery here recorded comes to the people "for the sins of Manasseh." Here is the hereditary principle of Divine government. Will not the following facts anyhow modify the severity of the complaint?(1) That no man is made to suffer more than he actually deserves on account of his own personal sin.(2) That the evils which thus descend to us from our ancestors are not to be compared with those we produce ourselves.(3) That whilst the hereditary principle of the Divine government entails evils, it also entails good. Great as are the evils that have come down to us from posterity, great also is the good.(4) This hereditary principle tends to restrain vice and stimulate virtue. The parent knowing, as all parents must know, the immense influence he exerts upon his offspring, and having the common natural affection, will be set more or less on his guard; he will restrain evil passions which otherwise he would allow to sport with uncontrolled power, and prosecute efforts of a virtuous tendency, which otherwise he would entirely neglect.
2. The pernicious influence of a man's sin in the world may continue after his conversion. Manasseh repented of the sins he had committed, and received the favours of his God. Notwithstanding we find men here suffering on account of the sins he had committed.
3. That retribution, though it may move slowly, yet will move surely. A hundred years had well-nigh passed away, and several generations had come and gone since Manasseh had gone to his grave. Yet avenging justice appears at last, and wreaks upon others the terrible effects of his crimes. The tardy march of retribution men have made the occasion and the reason of continued depravity," Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily," etc.
(David Thomas, D. D.)