This is one of the few times in scripture that the same event is talked about in four different places. Jeremiah 52 appears to be a historical appendix, however, and seems to have been added by someone other than Jeremiah. It’s an almost word for word repetition of the Kings’ account.
Basically Zedekiah had rebelled against Babylon, despite taking an oath in God’s name to be a vassal under him, so Nebuchadnezzar put Jerusalem under siege for 2 years. As a result, there was famine in the city, and at last, the walls were broken through. Though Zedekiah fled, he was eventually captured. His sons were put to death, after which he was blinded and taken into captivity until he died. Nebuchadnezzar killed the officials of Judah, and also the chief priest and the next in rank. Everything of value in the temple was taken away, and then the temple itself, the palace, and the houses of the land were all burned down.
Why? II Chronicles makes the reasons crystal clear.
[Zedekiah] did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord…He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel.
Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. (12-16)
What can we learn from this? Why did Jerusalem fall?
First, they did what was evil in God’s sight. It goes without saying that when we do evil, we bring evil upon ourselves.
Second, when they heard God’s words of rebuke, they didn’t humble themselves and repent. Rather, they hardened their hearts, not only continuing their evil deeds, but becoming even more unfaithful to God.
Third, they followed the religious practices of the nations around them, and in doing so defiled the temple of God.
Finally, they continually mocked the words of God and scoffed at his messengers until finally there was no remedy for the evil in their hearts. It is possible to so harden ourselves that we make it impossible for ourselves to return.
How about you? What path are you going down? Are you unrepentedly doing what God has called evil? When you hear God’s words of rebuke in his Word or through messages at church, do you just close your eyes and ears?
Are you following the religious practices and beliefs of the people around you, and in so doing defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit within you? I’m not just talking about following other religions. But I’m talking about following the gods of money, sex, and materialism as well. These things will defile your lives.
Worst of all, have you become so hardened to God’s word, that you actually scoff at it and anyone who would preach it?
These are what caused Israel to fall into destruction. And it will cause you to fall to destruction too. I’m not saying that you’ll lose your salvation. But you will eventually destroy all the good things in your life. And you’ll wreck all the good plans God intended for your life. Instead of having a life worth living, you’ll be left with a wasted life full of regret.
Let us not be like the Israelites who lost everything. Let us keep hearts that are soft and humble before God. For only in doing that can we find the way of life.