Zedekiah reigned in unrighteousness during the sixth century BC, which is where he appears on the Biblical Timeline. God had warned the kingdom of Judah to repent from its sins for many years. He had sent many prophets, priests and righteous kings to have the people worship him in spirit and truth. God had patiently waited for hundreds of years for the people to stop worshipping idols and honoring pagan deities. There were times in the history of the nation of Judah when it seemed as if the people were going to live permanently righteously according to God’s commandments. This condition didn’t last forever, and the people of Israel soon went back into their sin of idolatry. Over the course of time, God could no longer warn or be patient with the people of Judah. They had forced the Lord to exercise judgment against them because it was a justifiable act of God.
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King Jehoiachin ruled Judah after the Babylonians had gained control over the land. Jehoiachin’s father, Jehoiakim was a wicked king and during his reign the Babylonians invaded Judah and this was the beginning of God’s judgment against this nation. After Jehoiakim had passed away, King Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Jehoiachin to power, and he ruled for 11 years and then he was marched off to Babylon as a prisoner. Once this king was removed from the throne, his uncle named Mattaniah was made the next ruler of Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar changed his name to Zedekiah.
When Zedekiah became the King of Judah, he was a wicked ruler. He continued to practice the idolatry that was performed by various kings all throughout the history of Judah. God used the prophet Jeremiah to warn the king, but he didn’t listen to him. King Zedekiah was a stubborn, hard-hearted man, and he wasn’t convinced or convicted by any of God’s warnings to repent. He also didn’t think that his nephew’s captivity in Babylon had anything to do with the nation’s troubles from God for their sins. King Zedekiah just didn’t realize what was happening, or he didn’t care. The people of Judah reflected the king’s attitude and continued to worship false gods and idols.
The Babylonians attacked Jerusalem a third time in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign. This time around they built huge earthen ramps and lay siege to the city for two years. Eventually, the siege had ended, and the people were desperate. The Babylonians eventually broke through Jerusalem’s wall and killed many of the people of Judah. They killed the young and old, and they took all of the wealth of Judah.
During the siege, King Zedekiah realized that all was lost, so his troops broke through a part of the wall surrounding Jerusalem when it was dark. They tried to run away in a nearby valley to escape, but the Babylonians chased after and killed most of them. King Zedekiah tried to do the same thing, but he too was captured. Instead of killing him, the Babylonian’s tied him up and forced him to watch as they killed his sons. Then they put his eyes out of his socket and made him blind. After he was made blind, he was marched back to Babylon where he spent the rest of his days as a prisoner. King Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king, and he ruled Judah for 11 years around 588 B.C. His name means “the justice of God” and the people of Judah experienced God’s justice against their sins during his reign.
- 2 Kings 24: 17 Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon makes Zedekiah the next ruler of Judah after he removes his nephew Jehoiachin from the throne.
- 2 Kings 24: 18 – 20 King Zedekiah was an evil ruler who did evil in the sight of God. He was an idolatrous ruler that led the people astray. God decided to judge Israel through the process of exile with the power of the Babylonians.
- 2 Kings 25: 1 – 7 Babylon lays siege to Jerusalem for two years and carries away its people.
- 2 Chronicles 36: 11 – 21 An alternate passage that tells about Zedekiah’s rule of Jerusalem.
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