If you ever find yourself to be king of a small nation… put there by the king of a much larger, more powerful, nation… here’s some advice: rebellion is not a great idea! Unfortunately for Judah, King Zedekiah of Judah didn’t follow that advice.
Zedekiah was the last king of Judah. His nephew, Jehoiachin, had preceded him on the throne, having the misfortune of rising to power as king just as King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon set his eyes on Jerusalem. He laid siege on Judah’s capital city. The year was 597BC. Time was running out for the people of Judah.
Jehoiachin was forced into humiliating surrender, after which King Nebuchadnezzar looted the temple and displaced all but the poorest residents of Jerusalem. Jehoiachin was carried to Babylon, and his uncle, Zedekiah, was made king in his place.
But, Zedekiah had little real power. He did not even have control over his own name! He had been called Mattaniah; Nebuchadnezzar changed it when he put him on the throne. It was intended to be a constant reminder to Zedekiah who was in charge.
Zedekiah ruled for just over a decade. Then he made the biggest mistake of his life… he rebelled against the king of Babylon. Evidently, Zedekiah did not bother to seek God’s wisdom until well after he had started to revolt. Only when Nebuchadnezzar was beating down his door did Zedekiah seek advice from the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 21).
Like Jeremiah, the prophet Ezekiel had no kind words for Zedekiah (Ezek. 17:14-16). Ezekiel seemed amazed at Zedekiah’s stupidity. He was astonished that Zedekiah decided – after Nebuchadnezzar had left Judah “unable to rise again” – that he decided to rebel against the powerful king.
Unfortunately, Jeremiah also had no words of encouragement for Zedekiah. Time was up. Zedekiah and his people had nothing to look forward to but “plague, sword and famine” – and, finally, total defeat at the hands of the Babylonian army… in 586BC.
As a final insult, Zedekiah was forced to watch as his sons were killed right in front of him. Then, his eyes were gouged out to insure that would be the last thing he ever saw. In chains, he was led back to Babylon.
It is one thing to fight… and another to fight against the odds… and still another to fight against God! Don’t waste time and energy fighting against God. Look to Him and seek His wisdom; ask Him to fight with you, not against you.
You can read Zedekiah’s story in 2Kings 24,25; 2Chronicles 36; Jeremiah 32,34,39,52; Lamentations 4; & Ezekiel 12.