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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

2 Chronicles 36

 

 

Verses 1-23

JEHOIAKIM'S REIGN AND CAPTIVITY

(vv.5-8)

Jehoiakim was evidently older than Jehoahaz for he was 25 when he began to reign (cf.v.2). He reigned 11 years in Judah, but he also dishonoured the memory of his father, Josiah by his ungodly actions. It was not Necho who came against him, however, but Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He took Jehoiakim captive to Babylon. At the same time he took some of the articles from the temple and put them in his own temple at Babylon. The Lord allowed this as a warning, to Judah, for Nebuchadnezzar might have taken all the treasures of the house, but did not. If Judah had turned back to the Lord, this might have preserved them from the later damage of verses 10 and 18.

This book does not record the death of Jehoiakim, though 2 Kings 24:6 does. He must have died in captivity. His son Jehoiachin then became king (v.8).

JEHOIACHIN'S REIGN AND CAPTIVITY

(vv.9-10)

Jehoiachin was 18 years old at this time (not 8, as is mistakenly given in one translation), but he reigned only three months, which was enough to prove him evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 Kings 24:10-12 records that the Babylonians came to besiege the city, though we are not told the immediate reason for this. Jehoiachin and his servants surrendered without resistance. 2 Chronicles 36:10 speaks of his being summoned by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon, and the costly articles from the house of God were also taken to Babylon, not all the articles as yet. This is a picture of how the truth of God has been gradually stolen from the Church in the present age because of the failure and disobedience of the people. Nebuchadnezzar then made Zedekiah, Jehoiakim's brother (Jehoiachin's uncle) king in Judah. Nebuchadnezzar's dealings in deposing one king and setting up another seems rather ludicrous, but he evidently was trying to find one whom he could fully control.

ZEDEKIAH'S EVIL REIGN

(vv.11-14)

Zedekiah was the last of the kings ruling in Judah before their complete captivity. He became king at age 21, reigning 11 years, during which he proved as evil as the kings before him, though being a son of Josiah. Thus, following Josiah's good reign, the condition of Judah degenerated rapidly.

RUIN AND CAPTIVITY

(vv.11-21)

The Book of Jeremiah speaks extensively of God's warnings to Zedekiah through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 34:2; Jeremiah 34:21), and of Zedekiah's fear of men in speaking with Jeremiah in secret. concerned about what God had spoken, but fearfully giving in to his nobles in disobeying the word of the Lord (Jeremiah 37:16-21; Jeremiah 38:4-27).

It was this fear of his servants that moved Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar after he had sworn an oath by God , an oath of allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar. This was plain dishonesty and God could not excuse it because of his fear of men. In fact, God says that Zedekiah stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against all God's gracious advances. Together with the leaders and priests of the people, he resisted Nebuchadnezzar when that king besieged Jerusalem again, and refused Jeremiah's words from God that he should surrender to the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 38:17-20). Thus leaders and priests and people were guilty of transgressing more and more, which included gross idolatry and desecration of the house of God (v.14).

Verse 15 speaks of the many warnings God had given Judah by His servants (specially Jeremiah) because He had compassion on His people and the centre where He dwelt. "But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of God arose against His people, till there was no remedy" (v.16).

This haughty refusal of both God's goodness and His authority occasioned the final attack of the king of the Chaldeans who killed their young men even in the house of their sanctuary (v.17). They had no regard for the holiness of the place. But after all, Judah had been guilty of showing contempt for God's house: how could they expect anything better from ungodly nations? Young men and virgins, aged or weak, were killed.

Also, all the treasures of the house of God, large and small, and the treasures of Zedekiah and his nobles were taken to Babylon (v.18). The Chaldeans also burned the house of God, a terrible insult for Judah to have to bear, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned its palaces with fire and destroyed everything of value in the city (v.19).

Those who were not killed were carried captive to Babylon where they became slaves to Nebuchadnezzar and his sons, until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, which took place when the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon on the same night that Belshazzar saw the handwriting on the wail (Daniel 5:24-30).

Thus the word of God by Jeremiah was fulfilled that the land of Israel would be left desolate to enjoy the sabbaths that it had not enjoyed for years because of the greed of the people in wanting, crops in the seventh year as well as for the six years God had allowed them. Therefore God had told them by Jeremiah that the land would remain desolate for 70 years ¾ the length of Judah's captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:9-12).

SEVENTY YEARS LATER

(vv.22-23)

The king of Babylon never did give release to any of the captives of Judah, but when the Medes and Persians defeated Babylon, this soon worked for the blessing of Judah. Darius the Mede ruled at first, but when the authority was taken over by the Persians, Cyrus was ruler. As Isaiah had prophesied some years before, Cyrus would perform all God's pleasure in having Jerusalem rebuilt (Isaiah 44:28).

It was the Lord who stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to issue a proclamation 70 years after Judah's captivity, sending the proclamation throughout all his kingdom (v.22), to the effect that the God of heaven had commanded him to build a house for God in Jerusalem. He did not say by what means God had given him this message, but he was evidently persuaded that it was authentic. Therefore he gave full liberty to any Israelites in captivity to go back to Jerusalem to help in this rebuilding. In fact, he encouraged them to do this, desiring that the Lord God would be with those who responded to this invitation. How beautifully this shows that God was still deeply concerned about His people Israel in spite of their previous departure and rebellion. Similarly today, He has not cast away His people (Romans 11:1), though they have been far from Him for almost 2,000 years! He will yet restore them, for He is a God of grace.

Thus the book of Chronicles does not end in total misery, but shows the pure grace of God that would not leave Israel in hopeless despair, but would graciously seek their restoration. We might well consider this in the light of conditions in the professing church today, when departure and rebellion against the pure truth of the New Testament has so broken and scattered the people of God that many are inclined to think the outlook is hopeless. But God still cares for His Church more faithfully than we do, and is willing to give to those who cry to Him the grace to maintain some testimony for Him in the face of all the opposition of Satan, together with the natural bent of our hearts to become discouraged.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 36:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-chronicles-36.html. 1897-1910.

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