And the city was kept under siege until King Zedekiah's eleventh year.
I. THE WICKEDNESS OF ITS RULERS. One after the other, the kings of Judah had done evil in the sight of the Lord.
1. They disobeyed God's commands. They imitated the idolatry and the vices of the heathen.
2. They ill-treated God's prophets. When men begin to despise and ill-treat God's messengers, those who are trying to lead them to what is fight, they are blind to their own true interests. The treatment which the Prophet Jeremiah in particular received showed how low in degradation the kingdom of Judah had sunk. After the prophet's fearless denunciations of national sin (Jeremiah 13-19.), Pashur, who was chief governor of the temple, smote Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks, or pillory, that was in the high gate of Benjamin, near the temple, where all men might see him and mock at his disgrace. We have seen how Jehoiakim cut the roll of Jeremiah's prophecies with his penknife, and burned its leaves. Jeremiah's last years at Jerusalem were years of increased suffering and persecution. Zedekiah actually put him in prison. The princes cast him to perish in a hideous pit in the prison-house, where he sank in the mire, but at the intercession of an Ethiopian officer, Ebed-Melech, the king rescued him. Wickedness in high places soon proves to be a nation's ruin.
II. THE CORRUPTION OF ITS PEOPLE. Unhappily, the people were just as corrupt and as godless as their rulers. A nation is responsible for its national sins. The sins of Judah cried aloud to Heaven for vengeance. And in the days of the Captivity they were taught to feel that there is a God that reigneth in the earth. We learn from the fate of Judah and Jerusalem:
1. The danger of forsaking God. They forsook God in the day of their prosperity. And when the hour of their need came, the gods whom they served were not able to deliver them.
2. The danger of disregarding God's Word. How often, in these later years of Judah's history, was the Law of God utterly neglected and forgotten: No life can be truly happy which is not based on the Word of God. No home can be truly happy where the Bible is not read. No nation can expect prosperity which disregards the Word of God.
3. The danger of despising God's warnings. Every message God sends us is for our good. If it is worth his while to speak to us, it is worth our while to listen. Neglected warnings - what guilt they revolve! what danger they threaten. Because I have called, and. ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded... I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." - C.H.I.
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest.1. Most of us, I daresay, are familiar with the story of the faithful sentinel at Pompeii. It is told for us by Miss Yonge, in her little book of golden deeds. The man was an ordinary soldier, set to guard the city gate. It was the time of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and from the position assigned to him he was able to watch the stream of molten lava, like a cruel crawling hungry tide, setting in the direction of Pompeii: on and on it came: nearer and nearer with its blinding light and burning flame it advanced towards him: but the sentinel never stirred from his post; he stood where he had been ordered to stand: and when after more than a thousand years the buried city was, as it were, disentombed from her sepulchre, the good soldier's bones, still girt about with breast. plate and helmet, and with the hand still raised to keep the dust from his mouth, remained to tell all future generations how a Roman soldier, rather than leave the post of duty, was not unwilling to die. The story is not without modern parallels. Lord Wolseley pays a tribute of respectful admiration to the chivalrous faithfulness which was shown by one of the English sentinels at the battle of Inkermann. In the blinding mist of the November morning, the Russian soldiers crept within our lines. Through what some call chance, but what we would rather call the providence of God, the enemy in their progress failed to come across one of our sentries: all day long, with enemies before him and enemies behind him, that man remained where he had been placed; and when, in the evening of the day, the thin red line of our troops drove back their opponents into their entrenchments, Lord Wolseley found this sentinel, still holding his ground, at his post, doing his duty. I have referred to these two incidents, not merely because they are golden deeds, but because they help, I think, to illustrate the act of unconscious heroism which our text describes. In this last chapter of the Second Book of Kings we read the story of the abolition of the Jewish monarchy and of the leading away into captivity of the Jewish people. From the throne on which had once reigned David and Solomon and Hezekiah, the last occupant passed forth a blind and childless man, to the ignominy of a Babylonish prison: by command of King Nebuchadnezzar, the wall and the palaces of the city, once the joy of the whole earth, were levelled to the ground: and the holy and beautiful temple, fragrant with cedar wood and bright with gold, where in happier days the shining cloud of God's presence had rested upon the mercy seat, was turned into a charred and dilapidated ruin. Verily the weeping captives as they went forth to their exile in the land of the enemy must have learned at last the lesson which is taught so plainly on every page of history, and by the experience of every life, "be sure your sin will find you out." But just as some gleams of pleasant sunshine will often come to cheer us at the end of a cloudy and dark day, so this dark and terrible national catastrophe seems to have been lit up by at least one deed of noble unconscious heroism. When the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar forced themselves at last into the very precincts of the temple, the great crowd of worshippers, who habitually were present there, had gone; the many attendant priests and Levites, who habitually assisted at the services, had also gone; but Seraiah the chief priest was there; and Zephaniah the second priest was there: and there were also present three men whose names are not so much as told us, three men of whom the historian apparently knows nothing, three men who were faithful but not famous; they were only keepers of the door, but faithful among the faithless, they were ready to sacrifice their lives rather than desert their posts. "The captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the door, and the king of Babylon smote them and slew them at Riblah in the land of Hamath." What epitaph shall we write on the grave of these unconscious heroes? "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life." It is the peculiar glory of the Christian religion that it has sowed the world broadcast with unconscious heroes. By their love of God, by their devotion to duty, by the unselfishness of their lives, by their repression of themselves, by their enthusiasm for humanity you may know them; they are to be met with almost everywhere; in cottages, in palaces; in towns and villages; in busy workshops, in great seats of learning; in the silence of the sick-room, among those who go down to the sea in ships, in the darkness of the underground mine. They are of all ages; some are schoolboys and schoolgirls; some are young men and maidens; some are old and grey-headed, weary with the burden of three score years and ten, holding the staff in the hand for very age. Yes, "who can count the dust of Jacob or the number of the fourth part of Israel?" Thanks to the example which our Lord set, thanks to the teaching which our Lord gave, thanks to the Holy Spirit which our Lord sends, unconscious Christian heroes have been as the stars in heaven for multitude and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable. Quite impossible is it for human mind to measure the widespreading fruitfulness of any single life, however humble, thus given unreservedly to the service of God. As God's word expressly teaches us, as Church History continually reminds us, as our own experience of life shows us, it is, as a rule, Almighty God's way to work great results by apparently insufficient means. By little grains of sand the proud waters of the sea are held within their limits; by little drops of rain the earth is made to give seed to the sower and bread to the eater. When our Lord Jesus Christ came to save the world He chose the humiliations of poverty and the ignominy of a death upon a cross. Not so much by the pre-eminent holiness of great saints as by the unconscious heroism of numberless Christian lives has the faith, which was once committed to the saints, won its way throughout the world. Sometimes it is given to us to know bow fruitful a humble Christian life can be. In our own time a single Christian nobleman has been allowed to lift hundreds and thousands of his fellow-countrymen out of abysses of ignorance 'and oppression, and in many cases to guide their feet into the way of peace. But whence did Lord Shaftesbury acquire his enthusiasm for humanity and his desire to serve God? He did not learn it from his father or mother; he did not learn it from his schoolmasters at Harrow or elsewhere; but he learned it, as he tells us, from that unlettered, faithful nurse who had the courage to lift up her voice for God, who spoke to him about our Lord Jesus Christ, and taught him to pray, who prayed with him and prayed for him, and who unconsciously sowed a seed in a kindly soil, which brought forth fruit thirtyfold, sixty-fold, hundredfold.
3. And here we stop and ask how is it possible to attain to that state of grace which produces as its natural fruit a life of unconscious Christian heroism? I answer you by referring you to a text of Scripture. We read that when Moses after forty days came down from the clouds and darkness that wreathed and settled on the top of Sinai, "he wist not," so the Revised Version has it, "that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with God." For forty days without weariness and without cessation he had lived in the light of the presence of God; during that time there had been revealed to him, as before time to no other, thoughts from the mind of God; and when at last he turned to go back to the camp of Israel, lo, just as the moon with its surface of extinct volcanoes gets illuminated by the beams of the sun, till it is beautiful with silver light, so the earthly features of the countenance of Moses were radiant with more than human brightness, and the Israelites could not bear to look upon him because he reflected the glory of God. Yet Moses wist not that his countenance did shine because of his speaking with God. Surely it is not difficult to guess the secret of the faithfulness to duty of those three keepers of the door in the house of the Lord. Do you ask how it was that when they heard the tramp of the army of the enemy they did not make haste to escape? How it was that when priest and Levite, and chorister, and worshipper were seeking safety they choose to remain at their post? Was it not because they were men worthy of their office? They preferred to be doorkeepers in the house of the Lord rather than dwell in the tents of ungodliness; their hearts rejoiced within them when they said one to another, day by day, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." They loved worship; they loved duty; they loved God; and so when the hour of their trial came they east in their lot with Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest, being all the time as unconscious of their heroism as Moses was of his glory, when he wist not that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with God. And not otherwise has it been with all the bright and shining lives which have made the pages of Church history, and the homes of pious Christians flash and glitter like a milky way. They were by nature men of like passions with ourselves, they were compassed like us with manifold infirmities; they found, as we do, a law in their members warring against the law of their minds; but over and over again, morning, noon, and night, they prayed God that for Jesus Christ's sake Satan might not have dominion over them, and so, out of weakness they were made strong, "and in the darkness o'er their fallen heads perceived the waving of the hands that bless."
(W. T. Harrison, D. D.)
(Amos R. Wells.)
PeopleAhikam, Babylonians, Careah, Elishama, Evilmerodach, Gedaliah, Ishmael, Jaazaniah, Jehoiachin, Johanan, Kareah, Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, Nethaniah, Seraiah, Shaphan, Solomon, Tanhumeth, Zedekiah, Zephaniah
PlacesArabah, Babylon, Egypt, Hamath, Jericho, Jerusalem, Mizpah, Riblah
TopicsBesieged, Eleventh, Entereth, Forces, Shut, Siege, Till, Town, Zedekiah, Zedeki'ah
Outline1. Jerusalem is besieged.
4. Zedekiah taken, his sons slain, his eyes put out.
8. Nebuzaradan defaces the city, exiles the remnant, except a few poor laborers;
13. and carries away the treasures.
18. The nobles are slain at Riblah.
22. Gedaliah, who was over those who remained, being slain, the rest flee into Egypt.
27. Evil-Merodach advances Jehoiachin in his court.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Kings 25:2
'1. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about. 2. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. 3. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. 4. And the city was broken up, and all the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Last Agony
The Country of Jericho, and the Situation of the City.
How those who Use Food Intemperately and those who Use it Sparingly are to be Admonished.
The Historical Books.
The Iranian Conquest
Formation and History of the Hebrew Canon.
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