SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
52:1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he ruled in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah, from Libnah. 2 He did what displeased the Lord just as Jehoiakim had done.
3 What follows is a record of what happened to Jerusalem and Judah because of the Lord’s anger when he drove them out of his sight. Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. 4 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against Jerusalem with his whole army and set up camp outside it. They built siege ramps all around it. He arrived on the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year that Zedekiah ruled over Judah. 5 The city remained under siege until Zedekiah’s eleventh year. 6 By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city was so severe the residents had no food. 7 They broke through the city walls, and all the soldiers tried to escape. They left the city during the night. They went through the gate between the two walls that is near the king’s garden. (The Babylonians had the city surrounded.) Then they headed for the rift valley. 8 But the Babylonian army chased after the king. They caught up with Zedekiah in the rift valley plains of Jericho, and his entire army deserted him. 9 They captured him and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the territory of Hamath and he passed sentence on him there. 10 The king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons put to death while Zedekiah was forced to watch. He also had all the nobles of Judah put to death there at Riblah. 11 He had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him bound in chains. Then the king of Babylon had him led off to Babylon and he was imprisoned there until the day he died.
12 On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard who served the king of Babylon, arrived in Jerusalem. 13 He burned down the Lord’s temple, the royal palace, and all the houses in Jerusalem, including every large house. 14 The whole Babylonian army that came with the captain of the royal guard tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, took into exile some of the poor, the rest of the people who remained in the city, those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. 16 But he left behind some of the poor and gave them fields and vineyards.
17 The Babylonians broke the two bronze pillars in the temple of the Lord, as well as the movable stands and the large bronze basin called “The Sea.” They took all the bronze to Babylon. 18 They also took the pots, shovels, trimming shears, basins, pans, and all the bronze utensils used by the priests. 19 The captain of the royal guard took the gold and silver bowls, censers, basins, pots, lampstands, pans, and vessels. 20 The bronze of the items that King Solomon made for the Lord’s temple (including the two pillars, the large bronze basin called “The Sea,” the twelve bronze bulls under “The Sea,” and the movable stands ) was too heavy to be weighed. 21 Each of the pillars was about 27 feet high, about 18 feet in circumference, three inches thick, and hollow. 22 The bronze top of one pillar was about seven and one-half feet high and had bronze latticework and pomegranate-shaped ornaments all around it. The second pillar with its pomegranate-shaped ornaments was like it. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranate-shaped ornaments on the sides; in all there were one hundred pomegranate-shaped ornaments over the latticework that went around it.
24 The captain of the royal guard took Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest who was second in rank, and the three doorkeepers. 25 From the city he took an official who was in charge of the soldiers, seven of the king’s advisers who were discovered in the city, an official army secretary who drafted citizens for military service, and sixty citizens who were discovered in the middle of the city. 26 Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 The king of Babylon ordered them to be executed at Riblah in the territory of Hamath.
So Judah was taken into exile away from its land. 28 Here is the official record of the number of people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile: In the seventh year, 3,023 Jews; 29 in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year, 832 people from Jerusalem; 30 in Nebuchadnezzar’s twenty-third year, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, carried into exile 745 Judeans. In all 4,600 people went into exile.
31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, King Evil-Merodach of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison. 32 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prestigious position than the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 Jehoiachin took off his prison clothes and ate daily in the king’s presence for the rest of his life. 34 He was given daily provisions by the king of Babylon for the rest of his life until the day he died.