2 Chronicles
Introduction 1-4 Joahaz King of Judah 5-8 Jehoiakim King of Judah 9-10 Jehoiachin King of Judah 11-14 Zedekiah King of Judah 15-21 Nebuchadnezzar Destroys Jerusalem 22-23 Return to Jerusalem
Introduction

In this chapter we first find the reign of three sons and a grandson of Josiah who are successively king of Judah. They all have double names:
1. Joahaz/Jehoahaz (or Sallum, 1Chr 3:15-1615The sons of Josiah [were] Johanan the firstborn, and the second [was] Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum.16The sons of Jehoiakim [were] Jeconiah his son, Zedekiah his son.), son of Josiah, verses 1-41Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem.2Joahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.3Then the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem, and imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold.4The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Joahaz his brother and brought him to Egypt.;
2. Jehoiakim (or Eliakim), son of Josiah, verses 5-85Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God.6Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze [chains] to take him to Babylon.7Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.8Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.;
3. Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah or Coniah, Jer 22:24,2824“As I live,” declares the LORD, “even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet [ring] on My right hand, yet I would pull you off;28“Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar?
Or is he an undesirable vessel?
Why have he and his descendants been hurled out
And cast into a land that they had not known?
; 24:11After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the officials of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me: behold, two baskets of figs set before the temple of the LORD!; 37:11Now Zedekiah the son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah, reigned as king in place of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim.), son of Jehoiakim, verses 9-109Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.10At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.;
4. Zedekiah (or Mattaniah), son of Josiah, verses 11-1611Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.12He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD.13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear [allegiance] by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.14Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful [following] all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent [word] to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;16but they [continually] mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy..

The description of their reign is brief. It is as if the chronicler is in a hurry to come to the end, in order to point out a new perspective.

During the reign of Zedekiah the destruction of Jerusalem takes place (verses 17-2117Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave [them] all into his hand.18All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought [them] all to Babylon.19Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles.20Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,21to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.). God’s patience with His people has ended.

However, this is not the end of the book. In the last two verses the writer points to a new beginning. God allows through Cyrus the possibility that the Jews who were deported into exile can return to Jerusalem (verses 22-2322Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying,23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”).


Joahaz King of Judah

1Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem. 2Joahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3Then the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem, and imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold. 4The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Joahaz his brother and brought him to Egypt.

After the death of Josiah the people take the initiative and choose a successor (verse 11Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem.). This is not the eldest son, Jehoiakim, but a younger son, Sallum, who takes the name Joahaz. He reigns for only three months (verse 22Joahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.). He reigns that short period of time by the grace of the king of Egypt, who deposes him after three months (verse 33Then the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem, and imposed on the land a fine of one hundred talents of silver and one talent of gold.). Here we see the result of Josiah’s failure by interfering in a battle of the king of Egypt (2Chr 35:20-2420After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him.21But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? [I am] not [coming] against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from [interfering with] God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you.”22However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo.23The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.”24So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.). Josiah interfered with Egypt and was overwhelmed by it.

The king of Egypt also imposes a heavy fine on the land that must be paid by all the people (2Kgs 23:3535So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land in order to give the money at the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, each according to his valuation, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.). As a result, the whole population feels the yoke of domination. This must have been a huge difference with the favors they enjoyed under Josiah.

Now the king of Egypt decides who becomes king (verse 44The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. But Neco took Joahaz his brother and brought him to Egypt.) and not the people of the land (verse 11Then the people of the land took Joahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in place of his father in Jerusalem.). The power of the king of Egypt is also shown by the fact that he gives another name to Eliakim he made king (cf. Dan 1:77Then the commander of the officials assigned [new] names to them; and to Daniel he assigned [the name] Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego.). It seems that Joahaz has caused the displeasure of the king of Egypt, because he is taken to Egypt. There he also died (Jer 22:10-1210Do not weep for the dead or mourn for him,
[But] weep continually for the one who goes away;
For he will never return
Or see his native land.
11For thus says the LORD in regard to Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who became king in the place of Josiah his father, who went forth from this place, “He will never return there;12but in the place where they led him captive, there he will die and not see this land again.
).


Jehoiakim King of Judah

5Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. 6Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze [chains] to take him to Babylon. 7Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon. 8Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.

After Joahaz, Jehoiakim reigned eleven years (verse 55Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God.). The characteristic of his reign is that “he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God”. More information about this can be found in the book of Jeremiah. He is an arrogant, selfish man, who is completely indifferent to the LORD (Jer 36:21-3121Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it out of the chamber of Elishama the scribe. And Jehudi read it to the king as well as to all the officials who stood beside the king.22Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with [a fire] burning in the brazier before him.23When Jehudi had read three or four columns, [the king] cut it with a scribe’s knife and threw [it] into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier.24Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments.25Even though Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah pleaded with the king not to burn the scroll, he would not listen to them.26And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.27Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying,28“Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned.29And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the LORD, “You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon will certainly come and destroy this land, and will make man and beast to cease from it?’”30Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.31I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them—but they did not listen.”‘“). He is a tyrant who abuses his power to oppress and extort. He has imposed enormous taxes on the people to live a life of indulgence (Jer 22:13-1713“Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness
And his upper rooms without justice,
Who uses his neighbor’s services without pay
And does not give him his wages,
14Who says, ‘I will build myself a roomy house
With spacious upper rooms,
And cut out its windows,
Paneling [it] with cedar and painting [it] bright red.’
15“Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16“He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well.
Is not that what it means to know Me?”
Declares the LORD.
17“But your eyes and your heart
Are [intent] only upon your own dishonest gain,
And on shedding innocent blood
And on practicing oppression and extortion.”
).

After Egypt, Babylon comes to power in Jerusalem (verse 66Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze [chains] to take him to Babylon.). Nebuchadnezzar goes up against Jehoiakim to take him, bound with bronze chains, to Babylon. It is not clear whether Jehoiakim has arrived there. It is assumed that he was allowed to stay in Jerusalem because he swore allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar. However, with this arrival of Nebuchadnezzar the first deportation to Babylon takes place (2Kgs 24:1414Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land.; Jer 52:3-163For through the anger of the LORD [this] came about in Jerusalem and Judah until He cast them out from His presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.4Now it came about in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth [day] of the tenth month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it.5So the city was under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.6On 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.7Then the city was broken into, and all the men of war fled and went forth from the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls which [was] by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were all around the city. And they went by way of the Arabah.8But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho, and all his army was scattered from him.9Then 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.10The king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and he also slaughtered all the princes of Judah in Riblah.11Then he blinded the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon and put him in prison until the day of his death.12Now on the tenth [day] of the fifth month, which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard, who was in the service of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.13He burned the house of the LORD, the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; even every large house he burned with fire.14So all the army of the Chaldeans who [were] with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.15Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away into exile some of the poorest of the people, the rest of the people who were left in the city, the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon and the rest of the artisans.16But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen.; Dan 1:1-31In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.2The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.3Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his officials, to bring in some of the sons of Israel, including some of the royal family and of the nobles,). This is the beginning of the seventy-year exile of Judah (Jer 29:1010“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.), which lasted from 606-536 BC.

The king of Babylon also takes some articles from the house of the LORD to Babylon (verse 77Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.). There he places them in “his temple”. In this way he mixes the things of God with his idols. He does not bring his pagan gods into the house of God, but takes the objects of God’s house to his own pagan idolatry. This is an illustration of what has taken place in the history of Christianity through the ages. First, pagan practices are brought into the church. Later, things from God’s Word are introduced into the idolatrous practices of a worldly religion, which we see especially in roman-catholicism.

The remarks with which the chronicler concludes his description of Jehoiakim’s life are not particularly flattering. He doesn’t have a good word left for him. He summarizes the life of this king with the words “the abominations which he did” (verse 88Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became king in his place.). He doesn’t say a word about his death and burial. Jeremiah tells us that this man was given a burial of a donkey, that he was thrown away as a cadaver (Jer 22:1919“He will be buried with a donkey’s burial,
Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
; 36:3030Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.).


Jehoiachin King of Judah

9Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. 10At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.

Jehoiachin becomes king when he is eight years old (verse 99Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.). He reigns only three months and ten days. He is young and reigns short, but the judgment of him is as negative as that of his predecessor. Also “he did evil in the sight of the LORD”. Nebuchadnezzar puts an end to his reign by bringing him to Babylon “at the turn of the year” (verse 1010At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.). Here the second deportation takes place.

Together with that deportation “the valuable articles of the house of the LORD” are taken away (verse 77Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.). Nebuchadnezzar gradually robs the temple. Thus the confessing Christianity is in the process of robbing the church of its truths. This is done by giving a different content to biblical expressions. Repentance is then no longer a turning to God with repentance for sins, but, for example, the letting go of a habit that hurts someone himself or others, a change in social behavior.

Nebuchadnezzar makes his power felt by making Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem. Zedekiah is not Jehoiachin’s brother, but his uncle. He is a son of Josiah and the brother of Jehoiachin’s father.


Zedekiah King of Judah

11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD. 13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear [allegiance] by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel. 14Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful [following] all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.

Then Zedekiah becomes king of Judah (verse 1111Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem.; 2Kgs 24:18-2018Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.19He did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.20For through the anger of the LORD [this] came about in Jerusalem and Judah until He cast them out from His presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.; Jer 37:11Now Zedekiah the son of Josiah whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah, reigned as king in place of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim.). Zedekiah means ‘the LORD is my righteousness’. Zedekiah does not honor his name, for he tramples on the righteousness of the LORD. As a result he shall experience that righteousness personally. He is the last king of Judah.

Zedekiah is a weak figure and an evil man. He also “did evil in the sight of the LORD his God” (verse 1212He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God; he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet who spoke for the LORD.). He does not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah. This can be said, because Jeremiah speaks “for the LORD”, literally, “out of the mouth of the LORD” (cf. Jer 1:6-96Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”
7But the LORD said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
8“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD.
9Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me,
“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
; 37:22But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land listened to the words of the LORD which He spoke through Jeremiah the prophet.). Zedekiah does let him come, but does not listen to his words.

That he ignores the word of Jeremiah means that he lives in rebellion against God. The result is that he rebels against Nebuchadnezzar, breaking the oath that Nebuchadnezzar made him swear (verse 1313He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar who had made him swear [allegiance] by God. But he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD God of Israel.; Eze 17:13-1913He took one of the royal family and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. He also took away the mighty of the land,14that the kingdom might be in subjection, not exalting itself, [but] keeping his covenant that it might continue.15But he rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt that they might give him horses and many troops. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Can he indeed break the covenant and escape?16As I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘Surely in the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke, in Babylon he shall die.17Pharaoh with [his] mighty army and great company will not help him in the war, when they cast up ramps and build siege walls to cut off many lives.18Now he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and behold, he pledged his allegiance, yet did all these things; he shall not escape.’”19Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, “As I live, surely My oath which he despised and My covenant which he broke, I will inflict on his head.). This gives him a unique mention. It is said of him that he both stiffened his neck and hardened his heart. Such a combination appears only here in Scripture. He has a stubborn neck and a toughened heart. By deliberately hardening his own heart, he deprives himself of the chance of conversion.

Wickedness is not limited to Zedekiah. It is ‘so king, so people’. All the leaders of the priests and the people were very unfaithful  (verse 1414Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful [following] all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the LORD which He had sanctified in Jerusalem.; Ezekiel 8-11). They join in the abominations of the pagan people and defile the house which the LORD has sanctified for himself in Jerusalem. They transgress in all things that the LORD has abhorred. They take over the whole form of life of the Gentiles.

We see in this end time of Judah a striking picture of the end time of Christianity in which we live. Christians increasingly live in a way that resembles that of people who live without God. The last days are characterized by loving oneself and loving pleasure more than God (2Tim 3:1-51But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.).


Nebuchadnezzar Destroys Jerusalem

15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent [word] to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; 16but they [continually] mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy. 17Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave [them] all into his hand. 18All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought [them] all to Babylon. 19Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles. 20Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.

At a certain moment the measure is full. Before God lets the judgment come, He lets hear again how much effort He has made to spare His people and His dwelling place (verse 1515The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent [word] to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;). Again and again He has called the people to return to Him through His messengers. The expression “again and again” indicates the necessary urgency of the message. God has made haste. He has not been slow or sparse in His attempts to urge them to turn back. None of this has been effective.

It is striking to read about “His people and His dwelling place”. It is about what is His. His judgment of what is His concerns Him Himself. He does not judge aloofly. It touches Him Himself deeply. That is why He has done everything He can to keep it from coming this far.

The rebellion of God’s people and their leaders is evidenced by their reception of His messengers (verse 1616but they [continually] mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.). All the effort of God to bring His people back to Himself has been answered with contempt and scorn (cf. 2Chr 30:1010So the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them.; 2Pet 3:33Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts,). People always mock those who come with a message from heaven that they do not like. Religious people in particular react in this way.

Then God can no longer postpone the judgment and gives His people and also His dwelling place to the enemy. He makes the king of the Chaldeans rise up against them (verse 1717Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave [them] all into his hand.). Judgment comes to all age groups who are responsible for their actions (cf. Rev 19:1818so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”; 20:1212And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.). There is no regard for persons with God.

According to the historians, Nebuchadnezzar goes up against Jerusalem on January 15, 588 BC. On 28 July 586 BC the city falls. On 14 August the temple is burned (verse 1919Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles.). Before this happens, the treasures are robbed from God’s house and brought to Babylon (verse 1818All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought [them] all to Babylon.). These will be the treasures left over from the previous two lootings (verses 7,107Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.10At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.).

This time also the treasures of the king (2Kgs 20:15-1715He said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.”16Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD.17‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD.) and his princes are robbed and taken. All the palaces of the princes in which they have lived their lazy lives, with everything in them, go up in flames.

God makes everything happen because there is nothing more desirable in the temple for Him. He gives His temple to the Gentiles (Psa 79:11A Psalm of Asaph.
O God, the nations have invaded Your inheritance;
They have defiled Your holy temple;
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
; Lam 2:1,71How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion
With a cloud in His anger!
He has cast from heaven to earth
The glory of Israel,
And has not remembered His footstool
In the day of His anger.
7The Lord has rejected His altar,
He has abandoned His sanctuary;
He has delivered into the hand of the enemy
The walls of her palaces.
They have made a noise in the house of the LORD
As in the day of an appointed feast.
; 4:11How dark the gold has become,
[How] the pure gold has changed!
The sacred stones are poured out
At the corner of every street.
; Jer 51:5151We are ashamed because we have heard reproach;
Disgrace has covered our faces,
For aliens have entered
The holy places of the LORD’S house.
). We see the same when the church reveals her “Laodicea spirit” (Rev 3:14-2214“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:15‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.16So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.17Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and [that] the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.19Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.20Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.21He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”). There is also nothing in it that pleases Him. Therefore, He will give up Christianity, which culminates in the great Babylon, to judgment (Rev 17:15-1815And he *said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.16And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.17For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.18The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”; 18:1-2,191After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.2And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.19And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’).

All who have not been killed are taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon to serve him and his sons as servants (verse 2020Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,). The judgment is total, the humiliation complete. Yet the rejection is not final, but temporary. There is talk of a “until”, i.e. “the rule of the kingdom of Persia”. Persia is the kingdom through which God judges Babylon and to which He then gives world dominion (Dan 5:2828‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”).

What happens as soon as the Persians have world domination and therefore authority over Judah and Israel, we will see in verses 22-2322Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying,23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”. First it is said how long the exile will last and that is, after “the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah”, seventy years (verse 2121to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.; Jer 29:1010“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.; 25:1111This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.; Dan 9:2,24-272in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was [revealed as] the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, [namely], seventy years.24“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy [place].25So you are to know and discern [that] from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [there will be] seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.26Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end [will come] with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.27And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations [will come] one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”). This period of seventy years is counted from the first transportation to Babylon.

The fact that the exile lasts seventy years is not coincidental. The people are driven out of the land for seventy years to let the land enjoy its sabbaths. God has set a perfect time for the land to come to rest after all the idolatry the people have committed there (Lev 26:34-35,43a34‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.35All the days of [its] desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.43For the land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, will be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes.).

When those years are fulfilled, the LORD fulfills His word and brings the people back to His land and to His city and to His house. We see the fulfillment in the books of Ezra and of Nehemiah. The next two verses, the last two of this Bible book, prepare us for this.


Return to Jerusalem

22Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying, 23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”

At the end of this book in these verses a ray of hope lights up of the return of a remnant. In the Hebrew Bible, Chronicles is the last book of the Old Testament. The Hebrew Old Testament concludes with this word of hope, the expectation of restoration. If these verses were missing, the reader could be overwhelmed by a feeling of despair at the end of the book.

These two verses show that the last word is not the judgment of God, but that after the judgment there is a new beginning. They describe the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise in verse 2121to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.. A revival or restoration is always the work of God. That is why we read that He stirs up the spirit of Cyrus. He does this right at the beginning of His reign, “in the first year”. As soon as the period of seventy years is over, the LORD immediately goes to work to fulfill His promise, which He has made through Jeremiah.

The name of Cyrus has been mentioned by the LORD a hundred and sixty years before (Isa 44:2828“[It is I] who says of Cyrus, ‘[He is] My shepherd!
And he will perform all My desire.’
And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’
And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”
). God brings through him, who is called “His anointed” (Isa 45:11Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
), the judgment of Babylon (in October 539 BC). Cyrus acknowledges that he is God’s servant and that he owes his dominion over all kingdoms to “the LORD, the God of heaven” (verse 2323“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”). He also acknowledges that God has commanded him “to build Him a house in Jerusalem”. The house is to be built for Him and not for the Jews.

God’s house today, the church, is also not a house where people determine the service, but God Himself. The church should not strive to be interesting and useful to the world outside. The church should not make itself attractive to the world, but to its bridegroom, Christ. In the local church today, the question sounds more and more: How do people get the most out of the church? The only question that matters, however, is: How does God get to His right?

Cyrus does two things. First, he gives everyone who belongs to God’s people, whoever they may be, the freedom to go to Jerusalem and build God’s house. In the second place he wishes every one who goes the company of “the LORD his God” on his way. The first is a call in a way that exercises the conscience of every one who professes to belong to God’s people. No one is forced to go. The second means that every one who goes up cannot or does not have to do so in his own strength, but that the LORD goes with him.

Spiritually this word is now being fulfilled for us. Anyone who confesses to belong to the church of God, may return to the principles that God’s Word tells us about the church. In practice this will only happen by those who have been exercised in their consciences, while at the same time realizing that there is no power in them, but that the Lord is with them.