Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city, and all the men of war fled and went out from the city by night by the way of a gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, and the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him. Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him. The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also slaughtered all the officials of Judah at Riblah. He put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in chains, and the king of Babylon took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. – Jeremiah 52:1-11 ESV
Approximately five years has passed since Seraiah had traveled to Babylon as part of the king’s royal retinue to visit King Nebuchadnezzar. While there, Seraiah had followed Jeremiah’s instructions and had read the contents of the scroll he had been given, containing God’s oracles against Babylon. Then, he had tied a stone to the scroll and thrown it into the Euphrates River. King Zedekiah, Seraiah, and the rest of the officials from Judah who had traveled to Babylon had eventually returned. And after a five year hiatus, the Babylonians had shown up at the gates of Jerusalem. During the five years since his trip to Babylon, Zedekiah had chosen to rebel against King Nebuchadnezzar, attempting to make alliances with other nations, including Egypt. God had warned Zedekiah and the people of Judah to submit to the Babylonians. If they did as God had said, things would go well for them. If they disobeyed, things would go extremely bad. Zedekiah’s decision to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar’s authority was really an act of rebellion against God. God had made it perfectly clear what He expected the people of Judah to do.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’” – Jeremiah 38:2 NLT
But King Zedekiah and the people refused to listen to the words of God as spoken through the prophet, Jeremiah. And chapter 39 of the book of Jeremiah records what happened.
In January of the ninth year of King Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his entire army to besiege Jerusalem. Two and a half years later, on July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, a section of the city wall was broken down. All the officers of the Babylonian army came in and sat in triumph at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sharezer of Samgar, and Nebo-sarsekim, a chief officer, and Nergal-sharezer, the king’s adviser, and all the other officers of the king of Babylon. – Jeremiah 39:1-3 NLT
In the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar began his siege of Jerusalem. Just ever two years later, the Babylonians breached the walls of the city and the destruction began. Zedekiah and his troops attempted to escape the city, but were overtaken by the Babylonians. Zedekiah was forced to watch as his sons were murdered right in front of him. Then, he had his eyes gouged out. The last sight he would have seen was his own sons’ brutal deaths.
Jeremiah makes it quite clear why these things happened.
But Zedekiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. These things happened because of the Lord’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile. – Jeremiah 52:2-3 NLT
Zedekiah, like so many of the kings of Judah before him, was evil. He was idolatrous and full of pride and arrogance. He had refused to listen to God. He had determined to rule his kingdom according to his own standards. And, in spite of God’s persistent warnings of looming judgment, Zedekiah continued to disobey and disregard God’s words. He thought he could somehow escape the destruction God had ordained. He truly believed that he could make an alliance with Egypt and get their help in overthrowing the Babylonians. But even Egypt would fall to the Babylonians at the battle of Carchemish. And while the Egyptians would eventually show back up and attempt to aid Judah against the Babylonians, they would end up returning to Egypt with their tails between their legs, leaving Judah on their own. And did fall.
Zedekiah represents the last of the kings in the Davidic line. There would be no other king to reign from the line of Judah. It would not be until Jesus showed up and was born to Mary, a descendant of David, that the line of David would be reestablished. Jesus is and will be the next king of Israel. He is the rightful heir to the throne of David. In the genealogy of Jesus, found in Matthew 1, He is shown to be a descendant of Abraham and David through Joseph, His legal father. In the genealogy recorded in Luke 3, His lineage is traced through Mary, and reveals that Jesus is a descendant of David by blood. And in Romans, chapter 1, Paul reminded his audience that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of God’s promise to David.
The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 1:3-4 NLT
God had made a promise to David.
“‘Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’” – 2 Samuel 7:11-16 NLT
While Solomon would be the short-term answer to this promise, his kingdom would end. His disobedience and unfaithfulness would result in God splitting the kingdom of Israel in half. And the kings of Judah who would follow him would be anything but faithful to God. But Jesus, the Son of God and the son of David, would be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise. While Solomon built a physical temple for God, Jesus would build a spiritual temple. Paul would tell the believers in Corinth, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16 NLT). He said the very same thing to the believers in Ephesus:
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. – Ephesians 2:20-22 NLT
So, while the temple of Solomon would be destroyed by the Babylonians, the temple of God, made up of all of those who place their trust in Jesus as their Savior, is alive and well. The kingdom of Jesus has no end. His temple, the body of Christ, is incapable of being destroyed. King Zedekiah would live out his days in Babylon, blind and as a slave to those who had conquered him. The kings of Judah had abandoned God, but it was He who ended up abandoning them. But He will be faithful to His people. He will one day provide them with a true King, a righteous and just King. And this coming King will rule once again from the throne of David in the royal city of Jerusalem. And His reign will last 1,000 years. Then, God will remake the heavens and the earth. He will restore creation to its original glory. And He will establish a new Jerusalem. And as the apostle John reveals in his book of the Revelation, this new Jerusalem will have no need of a physical temple.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:22-27 NLT
Something new and better is coming. God is not done yet. The fate of Jerusalem and the people of God is not yet complete. And, in spite of the unfaithfulness of the kings of Israel and Judah, God is going to remain faithful, keeping His Word and fulfilling every promise He has made.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.