The First Destruction of Jerusalem (Part 1)

THE FIRST DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM I. The cup of Judah's iniquity was full. They had disregarded the conditions of the covenant which God had given them for the possession of the land. They had neglected His warnings which had come via His lesser judgments and the rebukes of the prophets. They had gone too far and there was now no remedy from the judgment which would befall them. 2CH 36:14-16. A. Where God makes a conditional promise, He reserves the right to break His part of the agreement if the other party defaults from their obligations. NUM 14:30-34. B. Moses had prophesied of the day when God would abandon Israel under these very circumstances, leaving the land desolate. LEV 26:27-33; DEU 28:58-68 (note v.63). C. Throughout their history other prophets like Joshua, Solomon and Isaiah had warned about the consequences of their actions. JOS 23:15-16; 1KI 9:7-9; ISA 1:1-31. D. Prophets in the latter days of the kingdom confirmed the messages of former prophets and also given details of the desolation. ZEP 1:1-4; HAB 1:5-11; JER 22:5-9; 24:8-10; 25:8-11; 27:6-8. E. But the voice of the true prophet is generally unwelcome in the ears of his own house, relatives or country. MAR 6:4 ct/w LUK 6:26. 1. The true prophets are neither generally honored in their own time. For such, their virtue is usually only conceded in hindsight, post-mortem. MAT 23:29-32. 2. "It is human to stand with the crowd, it is Divine to stand alone. It is man-like to follow the people, to drift with the tide; it is God-like to follow a principle, to stem the tide. It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure; it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty. 'No man stood with me, but all men forsook me' wrote the battle- scarred apostle in describing his first appearance before Nero to answer for his life for believing and teaching contrary to the Roman world. Truth has been out of fashion since man changed his robe of fadeless light for a garment of faded leaves. Noah built and voyaged alone. His neighbors laughed at his strangeness and perished in style. Abraham wandered and worshipped alone. Sodomites smiled at the simple shepherd, followed the fashion, and fed the flames. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Jesus loved and died alone. Of the lonely way His disciples should walk, He said: 'Strait is the gate and narrow the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.' Of their treatment by the many who walk in the broad way, He said, 'If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.' The Church in the Wilderness praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. The Church of the Kings praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. The Church of Caiphas praised the prophets and persecuted Jesus. The Church of the Popes praised the Savior and persecuted the saints. And multitudes now, in the church and in the world, applaud the courage of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness, like faithfulness of today. WANTED TODAY, men and women, young and old, who will obey their convictions of truth and duty at the cost of fortune and friends and life itself." II. The Lord told Jeremiah to wear a yoke as a testimony to the burden that the nations must bear. His message of submitting to the judgment of God was met with resistance. He was considered an unpatriotic traitor and had to contend with false prophets who were proclaiming peace and deliverance (a message which the people loved to hear). JER 6:14; 14:13-16; 27:2; 28:10-17 c/w DEU 28:48. A. An apparent deliverance seemed to defy the doomsday lunacy of Jeremiah. The false prophets and their followers appeared to be vindicated in their opposition to Jeremiah. JER 34:2; 37:1-12. B. God uses false prophets to lead the rebellious into destruction. 1KI 22:19-25. C. Jeremiah was imprisoned for serving God. JER 37:11-15. D. But Jeremiah was proven to be right. 1. The Babylonians returned to lay siege to Jerusalem. JER 32:1-2; 37:16-21. 2. Though Jeremiah was bound, the word of God was not bound! 2TI 2:8-9; 4:16-17 c/w PHIL 1:11-12. E. This scenario was repeated many years later. 1. False prophets and apparent deliverances played an integral part in God's judgment of the rebellious portion of Judah in 70 A.D. MAT 24:15-24; LUK 21:20-24. 2. See also "Wars of the Jews" by Flavius Josephus, pp. 496, 582; from The Complete Works of Josephus, Kregel Publications; Library of Congress Catalog Card # 60-15405. F. The apostates of Jeremiah's day would most likely be spurred on in their rebellion from events in their relatively recent history. Had not God delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians at the last moment in Hezekiah's days? III. The siege which had started in Zedekiah's 9th year and was suspended for a short time then resumed. And it was grievous. 2KI 25:1-3. A. The baseness of man in desperate situations was prophesied by Moses. LEV 26:27-29; DEU 28:49-57. B. A glimpse of desperation was given years earlier in Samaria. As usual, the faithful prophet was blamed. 2KI 6:25-31. C. God promises the same horror for Judah and Jerusalem. JER 19:6-9. D. As food stores dwindled, malnutrition and its accompanying problems increased. LAM 5:10 c/w 4:6-11. E. This situation also was repeated in the Roman siege of Jerusalem in the 1st century A.D. (See "Wars of the Jews", pp. 579, 587) IV. Edom, the descendants of Esau, participated in the siege looking to capitalize on the situation (OBA 1:1; EZE 35:9-10). God would later punish Edom severely for its dealings with His people. OBA 1:4, 10-15; PSA 137:7-9; MAL 1:1-4. V. Finally, the inevitable occurred. The very thing which nobody thought could happen, did happen: Jerusalem was destroyed! 2KI 25:8-10; HAB 1:5; LAM 2:15; 4:12. A. Zedekiah tried to escape but was caught. An amazing prophecy made by Ezekiel (who was at that time in captivity) was then fulfilled. EZE 12:13; 2KI 25:4-7. B. As Zephaniah had warned years earlier only the poor would be left in the land (ZEP 3:11-12 c/w JER 39:9-10). Ponder here the judgments and mercies of God: the Jews had miserably oppressed the poor of their own people (AMO 2:6), but the heathen Gentiles shewed them mercy! 1. Habakkuk's warning (HAB 1:5) which had an immediate application to the Babylonian overthrow of Jerusalem, is also applied to another amazing turn of events years later: the rejection of national Israel as the church of God in favor of the gospel church made up of Jews and Gentiles. ACT 13:41; MAT 21:43. 2. Likewise, as in the days of the Babylonian purge, when God purged the church in the 1st century, only a poor and afflicted people were left to possess the kingdom. HEB 10:34; ROM 15:26; JAM 2:5. C. God remembers His faithful prophet and provided for him. JER 39:11-12. 1. Remember that Jeremiah had been a prophet unto the nations (1:5), advising all that they should acknowledge Nebuchadnezzar's right to rule over them. This may have carried weight with Nebuchadnezzar, as it did years later for Daniel, who had prophesied in favor of the Medo- Persians prior to their conquest of Babylon. 2. It should also be remembered that God had allowed Daniel to go into captivity years before Jerusalem fell, during which time God used him to personally acquaint Nebuchadnezzar with the true God! God was planning things well ahead! DAN 2:46-47; 3:28-30; 4:37. 3. May it be the lot of the faithful to escape the wrath of God in the day of His judgment, whether that be in time or at the end of time. EZE 9:4-6; PSA 103:13; MAL 3:16-17; REV 9:4. D. As Moses had prophesied, the people were brought back to Egypt (DEU 28:68; JER 44:12). This too was repeated in 70 A.D. LUK 21:24. (See also "Wars of the Jews", p.587) VI. The situation was dismal, to be sure. However, the godly ought to be able to find a ray of hope in the midst of the most depressing situations. HAB 3:17-19; 1SA 30:6; ACT 16:25; HEB 10:34. VII. These calamities are not peculiar to Jews. God has promised similar judgments to Gentiles if they abhor or disregard His service under Christ. ROM 11:13-22; REV 2:5; 3:16.
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