Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. He also did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For because of the anger of the Lord this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, till He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced judgment on him. Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. (Jeremiah 52:1-11)
Crime Doesn’t Pay And Neither Does Sin
There is an old saying that “Crime doesn’t pay” as popularized by a radio show in the 1930s called, “The Shadow.” While the phrase is of recent coinage, the idea has been eternal in regard to evil. Before time began, God had a plan to punish the devil and his angels which was fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eve found the deception of the serpent did not bring the happiness she thought would come with eating the forbidden fruit. The early world was destroyed by a world-wide flood because the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Noah and his family were the only ones saved from the wrath of God. If there was a lesson clearly defined by the Lord from the early days of the existence of humankind is that sin does not bring happiness. The story of King Zedekiah is one of the millions where men believe they can live ungodly lives before the Creator and find joy and happiness. He was the uncle of King Jehoiachin and was put on the throne by the king of Babylon (who changed his name from Mattaniah to Zedekiah). Becoming king at the age of twenty-one would have been an incredible accomplishment for a man so young. If he would have looked around at the previous kings and their demise it might have sounded a warning to him to change his way but it did not. His reign would only last for eleven years and would end in the most tragic manner. Zedekiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Jehoiakim had done. The king decided to rebel against the Babylonians resulting in the king of Babylon bringing his army against Jerusalem in a seize that lasted for a year and six months. In desperation and with famine setting in, the king and his army tried to flee the Chaldeans but to no avail. Zedekiah was caught in the plains of Jericho with his army scattered throughout the land. They took the king from the king of Babylon who pronounced judgment against Zedekiah. He murdered the sons of Zedekiah in front of his eyes. The king of Babylon then killed all the princes of Judah at a border town called Ribnah. Nebuchadnezzar was exacting the wrath of God against Israel because of the evil that covered the land.
When the Chaldeans captured Zedekiah, did he regret the decisions he had made in following evil? The history of Israel in recent years was filled with wars, chaos, and men serving the carnal pleasures of the flesh. Many prophets like Jeremiah warned the people to repent but to no avail. The testimony of the Lord was clear against those who followed the path of ungodliness. History is replete with the failure of men to find lasting joy in refusing to follow the moral code of godliness as given by God. Each generation believes that it can improve the world by following an amoral system of values and that happiness is found in the pursuit of evil. Zedekiah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar and forced to watch as his sons were killed before him. How did his evil life pay off to watch an invading army slaughter his own flesh? Did he have remorse for his life and plead for the mercy of the Lord too late? The king of Babylon brought all the princes of Judah before Zedekiah and had them killed. Sin did not bring any joy to Zedekiah and certainly brought a tragic end to his sons and the princes of Judah. He did not humble himself to the word of Jeremiah and refused to honor God. The tragic end of his life came when the king of Babylon put out his eyes and made him a prisoner till the day of his death. Evil is fun for the moment but the lasting impact has eternal consequences. Zedekiah learned that lesson in a vivid manner.
Crime doesn’t pay and sin never brings happiness. Criminals may be able to get away with their misdeeds in this life. They will not find fulfillment in the life to come because the wrath of God is against all ungodliness. Justice can be forgotten by men but the Lord remembers all the deeds of what a man has done. Zedekiah learned the lesson too late that all the pleasures he enjoyed had no value when he watched his sons die and the princes of Judah slaughtered. In some ways the sons and princes were more fortunate than Zedekiah because they were dead without suffering the terrible fate of having your eyes blinded by the most horrendous method and then shackled with bronze fetters for the rest of his life in prison. The sad reality is the sons of Zedekiah and the princes may not have been ready to meet the God of Israel no more than the king and found the same lesson about evil in death: sin did not bring the promised joy of the tempter. Millions die with the joys of fleshly pleasures filling their lives only to find in death there is no hope of joy in the eternal. Satan dangles the lures of sin before the eyes of men deceiving them into believing that all fleshly fulfillment will bring lasting joy knowing his lie will secure their souls in eternal damnation. God has warned against the ways of evil and the consequences of rejecting His word. Happiness is not what men find on earth but what they see in the promises of eternal life through the grace of God. Do not live a life of regret where there is no hope and no joy. Evil has never brought happiness and it never will. The price is far too high for anyone to pay. Jesus paid the ultimate price by giving His life to show man the path of righteousness and lasting joy. Come to Jesus and see the gift of life He has offered to those who seek eternal happiness.