Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 28 2019 - Jeremiah 52:1-27 – The fall of Jerusalem

Zedekiah's reign had been marked by idolatry (58:1-2). Yesterday we read of how he ignored the warnings of Jeremiah. Today we read of his grizzly fate.

Babylon was the dominant power in this area at the time having defeated the Egyptian army at the decisive battle of Carchemish. Zedekiah had been set up as a puppet king by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He was expected to live in permanent submission to Babylon's power and will. But he decided that he had had enough: "Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon" (52:3).

As might have been expected when a minor kingdom rebels against a mighty empire, "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it" (v.4). The siege lasted three years until the people had nothing left to eat and no strength to resist attack. Then the Babylonians broke through the city wall and the city and its inhabitants were theirs.

It is illuminating to read that the king, his nobles and his army sought to flee from the city by night through one of its gates: "but the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured" (vv.8-9). He was taken off to Riblah, a city in the plain on the road between Egypt and Mesopotamia. There his sons were killed in front of him and his eyes were then gouged out. The death of his sons, and with them the hope of his successors being kings of Judah, would be the last sight he would remember. He was then taken off to Babylon in chains and imprisoned until the day of his death. His fate was precisely in accordance with Jeremiah's word from the Lord in Jeremiah 36:29-30.

Having got rid of King Zedekiah, the Babylonians destroyed the temple and the royal palaces in Jerusalem. The walls of the city were then turned into rubble before taking off many of its residents into captivity in Babylon, along with all of the treasures from the temple. All of the leaders of the city were also taken off to Riblah where they were put to death. "So Judah went into captivity, away from her land" (v.28).

It is a tragic story and one that could have been so different if the people had turned to the Lord in repentance.

But I want to draw a comparison and contrast with another king of the Jews. He also refused to submit to the powers of his day. He also was hounded to his death. His friends also fled. But he was not defeated for the chains of death could not hold him. Jesus rose from the dead as king of the Jews, the Messiah, but also as Lord and Saviour of the world. He is Lord over a kingdom that will never be defeated. He rescues from captivity all who will trust in him and makes them heirs with him of his kingdom.

So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never
Like earth's proud empires, pass away;
Thy Kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.

Living God, we thank you that your judgment upon a rebellious world fell not on us but upon the Lord Jesus. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you were willing to submit to an unjust and cruel death that we may go free. Help us not to flee from you but to flee to you that we might become part of your kingdom. Help us then to tell others of our glorious King and his eternal kingdom.

Peter Misselbrook