Warnings had come from the prophets for decades. God patiently waited for His people to change and return to Him. The prophet Jeremiah spared few details when he warned Judah what would happen if they did not turn from their evil ways. (See Jer. 25:1-14.)
But the people of Judah did not change their ways. The kingdom had been declining for years, despite King Josiah’s efforts to prompt nationwide repentance. When King Josiah died, the people went back to their old ways, worshiping idols and disobeying the Lord.
The time had come. God used Nebuchadnezzar—the king of Babylon—to deport the people from Judah to Babylon where they would live in exile for 70 years.
Nebuchadnezzar went to the land of Judah when Jehoiakim was king. He put Jehoiakim in chains and took him to Babylon. Jehoiachin became king, and Nebuchadnezzar came back for him too. Many of the people in Judah were taken, along with treasures from the Lord’s temple. Nebuchadnezzar put Zedekiah on the throne in Jerusalem.
Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar showed no mercy to the people of Jerusalem. The Babylonians set fire to the Lord’s temple and the king’s palace. They destroyed the wall around Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies carried most of the people away to Babylon as prisoners; only poor farmers were allowed to stay and work the land. The people were held captive in Babylon, serving the king for 70 years.
Through this story, the people of Judah learned that they should love and obey God. We can learn the same lesson from this story: we should love and obey God! As you review this story, remind your child of these key points:
- The kings of Judah were not obeying God.
- God gave Jeremiah a message for the people: obey God!
- The people learned they should love and obey God.
- We obey God because He loves us.