THE END OF DAVID’S THEOCRACY
David was greatly beloved by the historian, who very skilfully made his transgression appear small. He made this comparison between David and Solomon’s grandson Abijam:
He reigned for three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins which his father (Rehoboam) did before him; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father. Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, setting up his son after him, and establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (I Kings 15:2-5).
The small matter with Uriah the Hittite became an avalanche that redirected the entire purpose of Israel’s existence in the world. That little deed was done against all the commandments pertaining to the right of ownership. David committed all five laws: “You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:13-17). It also violated the first three commandments regarding God and idols (Exodus 20:2-7). Bathsheba was never mentioned as a candidate for encouraging other gods and idols; yet, her son Solomon became an ardent worshiper of Baal. David’s favored son Solomon began the slide of Judah, away from God and into idolatry and immorality. The historian recorded these painful words:
Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the god of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away all the kingdom; but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen” (I Kings 11:7-13).
Rehoboam, son of Solomon, continued his father’s policies and ended up a vassal to Egypt:
And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their father had done. For they also built for themselves high places, and pillars, and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree; and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD drove our before the people of Israel.
In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem; he took away the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house; he took away everything. He also took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made; and King Rehoboam made in their stead shields of bronze, and committed them to the hands of the officers of the guard, who kept the door of the king’s house. And as often as the king went into the house of the LORD, the guard bore them and brought them back to the guardroom (I Kings 14:22-28).
Abijam, Rehoboam’s son, continued in the sins of his father, as stated in the beginning of this chapter. Abijam’s son, Asa, lit the lamp of Yahweh again.
And Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as David his father had done. He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land, and removed all the idols that his father had made. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother because she had an abominable image made of Asherah; and Asa cut down her image and burned it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not taken away. Nevertheless the heart of Asa was wholly true to the Lord all his days. And he brought into the house of of the LORD the votive gifts of his father and his own votive gifts, silver, and gold, and vessels (I Kings 15:11-15).
Israel, to the North, turned violent among the contenders for the throne. Baasha killed the household of Jeroboam. In like manner, Zimri wiped out Baasha’s family. Within seven days, Omri eliminated Zimri. Omri was the father of the notorious Ahab, husband of Jezebel, a Sidonian princess and the founder of Samaria, the capital of Israel. During this time Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah, and others took on the “Baal religion” with little success. They had to choose between the lesser of the two evils. Israel assisted these kings, that did evil in the eyes of the Hebrew God, and against foreign invaders. Ahab needed Elijah’s help when Ben-Hadad of Aram attacked Samaria, who failed three times to take Samaria. Ahab, of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat, of Judah, to assist him in enlarging his territory. All the Baal prophets predicted victory, except the Yahweh prophet Micaiah. Micaiah informed Ahab that he would not continue as king over Israel and Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem as a more ardent Yahweh Reformer.
In Israel, Ahaziah and Joram, Ahab’s sons continued to spend their income on Baal’s sacrifices, including their own children. Elisha sent one of his men to anoint Jehu as king over Israel. Jehu destroyed the house of Ahab, including Jezebel and reintroduced “Yahwehism” in Israel. Jehu also killed Ahaziah king of Judah. By annihilating the royal house, except the child Joash, Athaliah, mother of Ahaziah and the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, set herself up as queen over Judah. Athaliah began to force Baalism worship on Judah. Jehoida, the leading priest, secured enough Yahweh faithful and Joash was reinstated as king of Judah. With Jehoida at Joash’s side, Judah returned to almost total Yahweh loyalty. Under the next four kings of Judah, “Yahwehism” again declined. With Ahaz, the faith in Baalism was back in Judah; even children were once more being offered to the god of fire.
To the North, in Israel, the sons of Jehu did follow their father; nevertheless, they again returned to Baal worship and sacrifices. Shallum eliminated the house of Jehu. The next three kings terminated each other. Hoshea was the last king of Israel. Shalmaneser, of Assyria, resettled the conquered land with the people from other parts of the world. The people merged with the Jews and they became the Samaritans. The Samaritans worshiped the God of Moses on a mountain. The prophets of Yahweh, Isaiah, Amos and Hosea could not turn the tide of Baalism. Judah, under Ahaz, with her allegiance to the gods of Damascus, became a vassal to Assyria. And Judah was not taken into captivity.
At this time, Assyria had outmatched her strength and Hezekiah reversed his father’s policies. Hezekiah reinstated “Yahwehism” to the degree that was under king David. Hezekiah made the mistake of showing his treasure and holy relics to the Babylonian envoys. His son Manasseh and grandson, Amon, reverted to Baal worship. The eight-year old Josiah, with the help of Hilkiah, the priest, and the uncovering of the Law, led to another return to Yahweh. These swings between Yahweh worship and Baal worship were costly and Judah had willingly to submit to her enemies. Josiah was killed when Neco of Egypt invaded the land and plundered it. Neco’s plundering aroused Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar came to collect and ended up taking the upper class into captivity. The last two kings Jehoahas and Jehoiakim tried to please the invaders, by accepting their gods, but to no avail. The Babylonians left Zedekiah in charge. His rebellion ended the existence of Jerusalem. In the eyes of the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah, Zephaniah and the historians, both nations, Israel and Judah, were being punished for their disloyalty to Yahweh. Judah, like Israel, had no one to blame, but herself. In that sense, they became like any other nations; they fell by their own hands.
The “Theocratic” government of Israel was one of the best and simplest systems the world has ever know. It was based on, and guided by “The Ten Commandments,” rather than by clever and cunning humans. Each tribe was self-governing. For a tenth, the Levites were providing the necessary services. Joshua led the tribes into Canaan as conquerors and plunderers. There was nothing humane about the invaders. In the name of Yahweh, Joshua’s army mowed down the resisting inhabitants as if they were weeds. The Israelites, during the period of the Judges and the period of the Kings did not maintain their separate Hebrew identity by becoming like their enemies and succumbed to way. The directions are “The Ten Commandments” that require no human interpreters, but man’s obedience to apply them to oneself. Every individual was directly responsible to God for the administration of the Law of God. God’s Law was never intended to be used by leaders to force their will on the people over whom they sat and sit in judgment. It is a self-ruling law that obligates man to live within the nation of Israel. Unfortunately, the people needed strong leaders to enforce God’s Law. Only three men were able live and govern by the Law. They were Moses, Joshua, and Samuel.
The end of the Davidic Monarchy was not the end of the Theocracy. The Babylonians, unlike the Assyrians, were not interested in dissolving Judah, but they treated them as a vassal and they learned from them. They were intrigued by the Yahweh religion and by their technology. Solomon became more known for his architectural and for his commercial accomplishment than for his religion. Solomon depleted the resources of the nation. Yet, at that time, Solomon, as an individual, was one of the richest and wisest person. In addition, the Babylonians were sent to save a remnant of Israel, and Babylon was after all the cradle of ancestry for David and for Judah. At the time, Egypt was also interested in Judah and partnered with Assyria against the rise of Babylon. King Josiah of Judah was friendly with Babylon. King Josiah was killed in the battle by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt. The historian gave a brief report of Neco’s design on Judah during Josiah’s reign:
In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates. King Josiah went to meet him; and Pharaoh Neco slew him at Megiddo, when he saw him. And his servants carried him dead in a chariot from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father’s stead. Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed is name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz away; and he came to Egypt, and died there. And Jehoiakim gave silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give to Pharaoh Neco (II Kings 23:29-35).
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not like what the Egyptians were doing to Judah. He felt that the Egyptians were robbing him of the treasury of Judah; so he set out to terminate Neco’s vassalship over Judah. Then King Nebuchadnezzar set himself up as the master over Judah. Jehoiakim served Nebuchadnezzar three years and then he turned against the king. This caused the Nebuchadnezzar to terminate the Davidic Monarchy:
In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up and Jehoiakim became his servant three years; then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of Chaldeans, and bands of Syrians, and bands of Moabites, and bands of Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by his servants the prophets. Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood he had shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon. Now the rest of the deeds of Jehoiakim, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers, and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. And the king of Egypt did not come again out of his land, for theking of Babylon had taken all that belonged to the king of Egypt from the Brook of Egypt to the river of Euphrates.
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it; and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself, his mother, and his servants, and his princes, his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eight year of his reign, and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths; none remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon; the king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land, he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all of them strong and fit for war. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his stead, and changed his name to Zedekiah (II Kings 24:1-17).
Zedekiah served Nebuchadnezzar ten years. And then he too rebelled and faced the wrath of the Babylonian Army. This time, they destroyed Jerusalem, burned the temple and the palace. The historian’s account speaks for itself, and once more Nebuchadnezzar left part of Judah in tact under the leadership of Gedaliah. Gedaliah was murdered at the hands of a descendant of David that fled to Egypt. They also took the prophet Jeremiah with them and killed him on the way.
And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem, and laid siege to it; and they built siege-works against it round about. So the city was besieged till the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then a breach was made in the city; the king with all the men of war led by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, by the king’s garden, though the Chaldeans were around the city. And they went in the direction of Arabah. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they captured the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, who passed sentence upon him. They slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him in fetters, and took him to Babylon.
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nubuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be wine-dressers and plowmen.
And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the LORD, and the bronze sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried the bronze to Babylon. And they took away the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service, the firepans also, the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver. As for the two silver pillars, the one sea, and the stands, which Solomon had made for the house of the LORD, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and upon it was a capital of Bronze; the eight of the capital was three cubits; a network and pomegranates, all of bronze, were upon the capital round about. And the second pillar had the like, with the network.
And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three keepers of the threshold; and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king’s council who were found in the city; and the secretary of the commander of the army who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the city. And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them, and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon smote them, and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
And over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left, he appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor. Now when all the captains of the forces in the open country and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of the Maacathite. And Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials; dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.” But in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men, and attacked and killed Gedaliah and the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. Then all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces arose, and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans (II Kings 25:1-26).
During the time of Zedekiah, the prophets of Yahweh had been silenced, but Jeremiah was sent to Judah’s king and leaders to demonstrate and proclaim why they had to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar:
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. Thus said the Lord to me: “Make yourself thongs and yoke-bars, and put them on your neck. Send word to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the sons of Ammon, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon by the hand of the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. Give them this charge for their masters: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: this is what you shall say to your masters: “It is I who by my great power and my out-stretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animal that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me. Now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and I have given him also the beasts of the field to serve him. All the nations shall serve him and his son and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings shall make him their slave.
“‘“But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, says the LORD, until I have consumed it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ For it is a lie which they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish. But any nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave on its own land, to till it and dwell there, says the LORD.”’”
To Zedekiah king of Judah I spoke in like manner: “Bring your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serve him and his people, and live. Why will you and your people die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, as the LORD has spoken concerning any action which will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you. I have not sent them, says the LORD, but they are prophesying falsely in my name, wit the result that I will drive you out and you will perish, you and the prophets who are prophesying to you.”
Then I spoke to the priests and to all this people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: Do not listen to the words of your prophets who are prophesying to you, saying, ‘Behold, the vessels of the LORD’S house will now shortly be brought back from Babylon.’ for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you. Do not listen to them; serve the king of Babylon and live. Why should this city become a desolation? I they are prophets, and if t he word of the LORD is with them, then let them intercede with the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem may not go to Babylon. For thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the pillars, the sea, the stand, and the rest of the vessels which are left in this city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take away when he took into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem—thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels which are left in the house of the king of Judah, and in Jerusalem: They shall be carried to Babylon and remain there until the day when i give attention to them, says the LORD. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place” (Jeremiah 27:1-22).
The powerful false prophet Hananiah was blinded with animosity for Jeremiah, he had the ear of the king. Hananiah dominated the leadership with false hope and with false misrepresentation. He prolonged the suffering of the people and incited fierce anger in Nebuchadnezzar:
In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year , Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, “‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king ob Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the LORD, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD; and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD make the words which you have have prophesied come true, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles. Yet hear now this word which I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.”
Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke-bars from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, and broke them. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” But Jeremiah the prophet went his way. Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the LORD: You have broken wooden bars, but I will make in their place bars of iron. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke of servitude to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have give to him even the beasts of the field.’” And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD’” (Jeremiah 28:1-17).
Jeremiah had one more task to perform. It was Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles, instructing them to adopt and assimilate with the Babylonians, which preserved a remnant from the house of Judah and David for the sake of the Messiah. The remnant did learn that God was not tied to Judea or to Jerusalem, but that God was where people turned to him. And it was the Persian kings who did return the captives. They helped them to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. And thus they prepare the world for the Messiah, the Christ. At that time, Israel or Judah were not prepared to receive the Messiah. At the end of time, neither Israel or Judah, without the help from the Gentiles, will be prepared to receive the Messiah.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream, for it is a lie which they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, says the LORD.
For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray o me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Because you have said, ‘The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,’—Thus says the LORD concerning the king who sits on the throne of David, and concerning all the people who dwell in this city, your kinsmen who did not go out with you into exile: ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Behold, I am sending on them sword, famine, and pestilence, and I will make them like vile figs which are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with sword, famine, and pestilence, and will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a terror, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they did not heed my words, says the LORD, which I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets, but you would not listen, says the LORD’—Hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon; ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying a lie to you in my name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. Because of them this curse shall be used by all the exiles from Judah in Babylon: ‘The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire,” because they have committed folly in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words which I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, says the LORD’ (Jeremiah 29:4-23).
During Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, the Gentile became the servants of God to punish the nations that had shamed Yahweh. Even far more than that, Nebuchadnezzar saved the remnant that did bring the full “Image of God” and the “Likeness of God” in the person of Jesus, the Christ, into the world. Christ, Himself, did employ and did deploy the Gentiles to restore the “Image of God” and the “Likeness of God” in man. The “Remnant” or the “Cradle of Christ” was no longer safe in the hands of Israel or of Judah. But God’s plan was distorted by Israel. Nebuchadnezzar was employed to continue God’s redemption of mankind. Jeremiah was instructed by Yahweh to announce:
Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words, behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, says the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about; I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting reproach. Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste. I will bring upon that land all the words which I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands (Jeremiah 25:8-14).