GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
2 Kings chapter 25 tells of how Nebuchadnezzar and his army laid siege to Jerusalem. The situation became so desperate that King Zedekiah fled from the city.
“But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him. Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.” (25:5-7)
One thing that makes this account especially poignant is the geography.
This was the land that God “swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” (Genesis 50:24) He had delivered their descendants from Egypt and brought them here. When the people crossed the Jordan River, they marked that occasion by setting up twelve stones taken from the Jordan to be a memorial, “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:24) Standing there on the plains of Jericho, they had arrived in the land which God reserved for a people He set apart to be guardians of His Covenant and testimonies—a land designated to be the cradle of the promised Messiah.
Scripture goes on to tell us of how the land was divided among the tribes of Israel. During the time of the Judges we read of God repeatedly leading His people to repent and then rescuing them. Eventually Israel united to become a kingdom under the leadership of Saul and David, the first two kings. Solomon built the temple, and “the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” (2 Chronicles 5:14) God remained faithful and true as He watched over His people. They were far from perfect, so repentance and faith were fundamental to their lives as His people.
Following the death of Solomon, Rehoboam and Jeroboam discussed the terms of how to proceed. Their conversation revolved around things like imposed public service and taxes. Not once, however, did they discuss the Lord or following His Word. Judah and Benjamin followed Rehoboam. The other ten tribes went with Jeroboam (1 Kings 12).
It is painful to read about the ensuing faithlessness of the people, which often degenerated into idolatry of the most revolting kind. Some kings of the southern kingdom feared God. None of the northern kings did. Over the years God sent one foreign army after another to take people from both kingdoms out of the land of promise.
After King Zedekiah was captured on the plains of Jericho, he was taken across the Jordan River and out of the Promised Land—the very place where Joshua had led Israel into the promised land.
As we reflect on this history, we are reminded of how vital it is to walk humbly with our God, daily praying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:13)
Wellbeing that is true and lasting cannot be found on a path that leads away from God’s Word.
Jesus Himself says, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28) The word for “keep” in the original text emphasizes that God’s Word is something to treasure. Hold it close and it will keep you safe.
“Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction
For Your word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:49-50)
Delwyn Maas is pastor of Gift of God Lutheran Church in Mapleton, North Dakota.