As Pastor Sean wraps up our series Villains, he takes a look at quite possibly one of the most tragic story endings in the Bible. Despite this Villain’s wickedness and rebellion towards God, God still gave him multiple chances to make things right. Even when Zedekiah knew what the outcome to his poor choices would be, he still chose to make the wrong choice. In this teaching, Pastor Sean shares this man’s story and gives 4 lessons that he learns from the life of Zedekiah.
2 Kings 24
During Jehoiakim’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded the land of Judah. Jehoiakim surrendered and paid him tribute for three years but then rebelled. 2 Then the Lord sent bands of Babylonian,[a] Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders against Judah to destroy it, just as the Lord had promised through his prophets. 3 These disasters happened to Judah because of the Lord’s command. He had decided to banish Judah from his presence because of the many sins of Manasseh, 4 who had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood. The Lordwould not forgive this.
5 The rest of the events in Jehoiakim’s reign and all his deeds are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. 6 When Jehoiakim died, his son Jehoiachin became the next king.
7 The king of Egypt did not venture out of his country after that, for the king of Babylon captured the entire area formerly claimed by Egypt—from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River.
8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan from Jerusalem. 9 Jehoiachin did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father had done.
10 During Jehoiachin’s reign, the officers of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came up against Jerusalem and besieged it. 11 Nebuchadnezzar himself arrived at the city during the siege. 12 Then King Jehoiachin, along with the queen mother, his advisers, his commanders, and his officials, surrendered to the Babylonians.
In the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. 13 As the Lord had said beforehand, Nebuchadnezzar carried away all the treasures from the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace. He stripped away[b] all the gold objects that King Solomon of Israel had placed in the Temple. 14 King Nebuchadnezzar took all of Jerusalem captive, including all the commanders and the best of the soldiers, craftsmen, and artisans—10,000 in all. Only the poorest people were left in the land.
15 Nebuchadnezzar led King Jehoiachin away as a captive to Babylon, along with the queen mother, his wives and officials, and all Jerusalem’s elite. 16 He also exiled 7,000 of the best troops and 1,000 craftsmen and artisans, all of whom were strong and fit for war. 17 Then the king of Babylon installed Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s[c] uncle, as the next king, and he changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah.
18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 19 But Zedekiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. 20 These things happened because of the Lord’s anger against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, until he finally banished them from his presence and sent them into exile.
2 Chronicles 36:11-16
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of theLord. 13 And he also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel. 14 Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the Lord which He had consecrated in Jerusalem.
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.
Now King Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. 2 But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the Lord which He spoke by the prophet Jeremiah.
3 And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest, to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Pray now to theLord our God for us.” 4 Now Jeremiah was coming and going among the people, for they had not yet put him in prison. 5 Then Pharaoh’s army came up from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they departed from Jerusalem.
6 Then the word of the Lord came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 7 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: “Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.”’ 9 Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chaldeans will surely depart from us,” for they will not depart. 10 For though you had defeated the whole army of the Chaldeans who fight against you, and there remained only wounded men among them, they would rise up, every man in his tent, and burn the city with fire.’”
11 And it happened, when the army of the Chaldeans left the siege of Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, 12 that Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin to claim his property there among the people. 13 And when he was in the Gate of Benjamin, a captain of the guard was there whose name was Irijah the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”
14 Then Jeremiah said, “False! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.” But he did not listen to him.
So Irijah seized Jeremiah and brought him to the princes. 15 Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe. For they had made that the prison.
16 When Jeremiah entered the dungeon and the cells, and Jeremiah had remained there many days, 17 then Zedekiah the king sent and took him out. The king asked him secretly in his house, and said, “Is there any word from the Lord?”
And Jeremiah said, “There is.” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon!”
18 Moreover Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What offense have I committed against you, against your servants, or against this people, that you have put me in prison? 19 Where now are your prophets who prophesied to you, saying, ‘The king of Babylon will not come against you or against this land’? 20 Therefore please hear now, O my lord the king. Please, let my petition be accepted before you, and do not make me return to the house of Jonathan the scribe, lest I die there.”
21 Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court of the prison, and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers’ street, until all the bread in the city was gone. Thus Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal[a] the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord: ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’[b] 3 Thus says the Lord: ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’”
4 Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”
5 Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can donothing against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s[c] son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.
7 Now Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs, who was in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon. When the king was sitting at the Gate of Benjamin, 8 Ebed-Melech went out of the king’s house and spoke to the king, saying: 9 “My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is likely to die from hunger in the place where he is. For there is no more bread in the city.” 10 Then the king commanded Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, saying, “Take from here thirty men with you, and lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon before he dies.” 11 So Ebed-Melech took the men with him and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took from there old clothes and old rags, and let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah. 12 Then Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Please put these old clothes and rags under your armpits, under the ropes.” And Jeremiah did so. 13 So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.
14 Then Zedekiah the king sent and had Jeremiah the prophet brought to him at the third entrance of the house of the Lord. And the king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you something. Hide nothing from me.”
15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.”
16 So Zedekiah the king swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, “As the Lord lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death, nor will I give you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you surely surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.’”
19 And Zedekiah the king said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Jews who have defected to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they abuse me.”
20 But Jeremiah said, “They shall not deliver you. Please, obey the voice of theLord which I speak to you. So it shall be well with you, and your soul shall live.21 But if you refuse to surrender, this is the word that the Lord has shown me:22 ‘Now behold, all the women who are left in the king of Judah’s house shall besurrendered to the king of Babylon’s princes, and those women shall say:
“Your close friends have set upon you
And prevailed against you;
Your feet have sunk in the mire,
And they have turned away again.”
23 ‘So they shall surrender all your wives and children to the Chaldeans. You shall not escape from their hand, but shall be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon. And you shall cause this city to be burned with fire.’”
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “Let no one know of these words, and you shall not die. 25 But if the princes hear that I have talked with you, and they come to you and say to you, ‘Declare to us now what you have said to the king, and also what the king said to you; do not hide it from us, and we will not put you to death,’26 then you shall say to them, ‘I presented my request before the king, that he would not make me return to Jonathan’s house to die there.’”
27 Then all the princes came to Jeremiah and asked him. And he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they stopped speaking with him, for the conversation had not been heard. 28 Now Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken. And he was there when Jerusalem was taken.
In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem, and besieged it. 2 In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, on the ninthday of the month, the city was penetrated.
3 Then all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer, Samgar-Nebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris,[a] Nergal-Sarezer, Rabmag,[b]with the rest of the princes of the king of Babylon.
4 So it was, when Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, that they fled and went out of the city by night, by way of the king’s garden, by the gate between the two walls. And he went out by way of the plain.[c] 5 But the Chaldean army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. And when they had captured him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced judgment on him.6 Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes in Riblah; the king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah. 7 Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.8 And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house and the houses of the people with fire, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive to Babylon the remnant of the people who remained in the city and those who defected to him, with the rest of the people who remained. 10 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left in the land of Judah the poor people, who had nothing, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.