Wednesday after the Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Chronicles 36:1-23 (NKJV)
1 Then the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem. 2 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3 Now the king of Egypt deposed him at Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
4 Then the king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Necho took Jehoahaz his brother and carried him off to Egypt. 5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him, and bound him in bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the LORD to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon. 8 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, the abominations which he did, and what was found against him, indeed they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. Then Jehoiachin his son reigned in his place.
9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD. 10 At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar summoned him and took him to Babylon, with the costly articles from the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem.
11 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 the LORD. 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. 17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. 19 Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. 20 And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 23 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!
After Josiah’s death Judah reestablished her evil ways. Josiah’s sons, the final four kings of Judah, did evil in the sight of the Lord. They had seen the example of their father Josiah, yet rejected his reforms and turned to the wisdom of the sinful flesh. The Lord sent prophets to turn the hearts of these kings from their own wisdom to the worship of God, but each refused. Their stubborn refusal led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of many people. These kings are an illustration of what St. Paul writes in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die.” However, the Lord is faithful to His Word even when His people are not. He remembers His promise of restoration, which He spoke to the prophet Jeremiah, and brought His penitent people out of captivity back into the Promised Land.
Living according to the flesh kills, but the Lord makes sinners alive through repentance and faith. As God’s Christians we must daily repent of our sins when confronted with the Word of God, lest we continue to live according to the wisdom and lusts of the flesh and die. Our Lord is gracious to give us pastors to preach God’s Law and Gospel to us, that though our sins are great, our Savior’s merits and atonement are greater. Through faith God justifies the penitent ungodly and releases us from the captivity to our sins and the devil.
We pray: Father, teach us Thy way of Law and Gospel, of judgment and forgiveness, that we may daily repent of our sins and believe the Gospel for our salvation, through Jesus Christ. Amen.