The Exile to Babylon

Exile Babylon

1“ ‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God. 2 “ ‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

 3 “ ‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.

The Exile - foretold

Reward for obedience

Leviticus 26 v 1-13 gives a full account of the rewards for obedience.

The Bible is full of promises from God. God's love for mankind is evident in creation and redemption and it is constant throughout human history. The nation of Israel was chosen by God to be an example of how he would demonstrate his love to all mankind.

The nation of Israel experienced the full benefits of these promises for over one hundred years during the successive reigns of Saul, David and Solomon.

How blessed was the generation that lived during Solomon's early reign. Jerusalem had a central place for worship in the form of a magnificent temple, with prophets, priests and a wise king.

The people enjoyed health and wealth as a result of thriving agriculture and commerce. The question is; would they remember how they got into this prosperous position?

Punishment for disobedience

Leviticus 26 v 18-46 outlines in detail, the punishment for disobedience.

When I was growing up in the 60's and 70's, the rules were simple; do what you are told or else! This principle applied in school as well as at home.

When I got into a spot of trouble in school, and I did from time to time, I didn't want my parents to find out about it because I would have got into even more trouble with my parents as a result.

Teachers and parents were not one bit afraid to dish out punishment when it was needed. I must say that I remember children and adolescents having respect for authority back then.

The analogy is relevant. When we eventually become adults, we are still accountable for our decisions and our actions. We are accountable to local authorities and to the law of the land. Ultimately, we are accountable to God.

The following well known Scriptures come to mind.

Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Throne Of God

When we meet God

The two verses above describe how every human being that has ever lived, will one day meet God. The Bible makes it clear that unsaved people will stand before the God of creation and will face judgement for everything that they have ever thought, said and done.

Strangely, most people are oblivious, or worse, indifferent to the prospect of meeting God. Read more about this judgement on the Final Judgement and Eternity page.

The next verse applies specifically to believers in Christ. We too will face judgement, albeit of a different kind. We will not face the wrath of God, but we will nonetheless be judged for how we have lived our lives on earth.

The outcome of this judgement will determine the level of reward that we inherit. It is not clear how this will manifest itself, but we know that God is just and will apply this judgement as he sees fit.

God had warned Israel of 'promises' for obedience and 'punishment' for disobedience. We too, will face one or the other.

Question - am I consciously living my life in the light of a future judgement?

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The Exile - fulfilled

Now let's get back to the story-line. The nation of Israel had been adequately incentivised regarding the rewards for obedience and duly warned about the punishment for disobedience.

In the years leading up to the exile of the remnant of Israel to Babylon, the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah had turned away from God. They had disobeyed his commands and blatantly disregarded his law.

Following on from the ‘Golden Age’ of Saul, David and Solomon, there was a prolonged period of ‘good king – bad king’ as detailed in the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles.

The nation had fallen so far from God that he had abandoned them to the curse that he warned them about in Leviticus chapter 26.

It all went wrong because one man, Solomon, disobeyed the Lord's command.

Sowing and reaping

Galatians 6 v 7-10

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

I am reminded of a sermon by Scotland’s Tom Bathgate in the late 1970’s when he was expounding the NT principle of sowing and reaping;

Sow a thought... reap an act;

Sow an act... reap a habit;

Sow a habit... reap a character;

Sow a character... reap a destiny.

These are sobering words of truth that have not changed with the passing of time. Thank you Tom!

This is what happened to Solomon, but not overnight. Backsliding from God will inevitably start with a wrong decision. But it will ultimately be a process of wrong decisions and become a pathway of disobedience that leads to our downfall.

The Fall of Jerusalem

Fall Of Jerusalem

2 Chronicles 36 v 15-21

15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 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.

17 He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.

18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials.

19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.

 20 He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power.

21 The land enjoyed its Sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfilment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.

God is true to His word - if He makes a promise, He will keep it. If He warns of judgment, He will bring it to pass.