God's Judgment against Jerusalem

The prophets of God spoke against the nation of Judah, and the city of Jerusalem specifically, regarding its sins, and the consequences that would come, if the people refused to repent and return to God. "Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets" (2 Kings 17:13). God took no delight in bringing judgment against His people, yet such would come upon them if they refused to repent.

Such judgment eventually began in 607 BC, with the first invasion of Nebuchadenezzar into Judah. A second invasion came in 597 BC, when Jeconiah, king of Judah, was taken captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 27:20). The last incursion of Nebuchadnezzar came in 587/6 BC, when Jerusalem was destroyed and most of the inhabitants were carried away (Jeremiah 39:1-7). In 537 BC, during the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia (Ezra 1:1-4), an edict was issued that allowed those who so desired to return to Jerusalem, to rebuild and begin life again in their homeland. Daniel points out this was to fulfill what God had spoken through Jeremiah; "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem" (Daniel 9:1-2).

The Babylonian captivity, while a difficult time for the Jews to endure, held promise of a return. While it came about due to their stubbornness of heart and refusal to return to God, there was the hope that a time would come when they could rebuild and start fresh in Judah once more. The promise of hope, however, came at such a great cost, with the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem. In Lamentations, Jeremiah recounts how horrible a time it was, "How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits" (Lamentations 1:1-3).

Sometimes life lessons are learned in the crucible rather than in pleasure. As horrific as the destruction of Jerusalem was, it would provide the impetus for hope. For those who would learn from it, the promise of return and renewal would sustain them. So it is for us today. As we witness such a rise of ungodliness, what will the consequences be? What will have to be endured? "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34). Isn't it better to learn and obey, than to see the mistakes of the past repeated yet again, to deal with the consequences sin brings? Rather than deal with the problems sin brings to life and the ultimate consequence of eternal judgment (Romans 2:4-5), why not repent and turn to God? Why not find life instead of condemnation? "We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Robert Johnson, Longview, TX