“[King Zedekiah] did evil in the sight of Yahweh His God, and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of Yahweh. And [the king] also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear an oath by God; but he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to Yahweh the God of Israel.
2 Chronicles 36:12-13
The text before us today speaks of the sad legacy of King Zedekiah, last of the kings of Judah. Heir to a dwindling kingdom, Zedekiah hastened its slide into oblivion. Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, had conquered Judah in fulfillment of God’s just judgment. Rather than submit to God’s hand, however, Zedekiah sought to weasel out by soliciting the help of Egypt. The result was disastrous. Zedekiah watched his own sons slain before his eyes before being blinded and forced to end his days in chains and slavery.
The transgressions of Zedekiah stand as warnings to those of us who, like him, partake of Adam’s sinful nature. There are three admonitions which we can gather from this text.
First, Zedekiah failed to humble himself before the Word of God. When confronted by the prophet Jeremiah, Zedekiah spurned his counsel. He chose to follow his own wisdom instead. And what of you? How do you respond to the Word of God preached? Do you listen and heed? Or do you harden your heart? Or perhaps just conveniently forget? Then beware the fate of Zedekiah.
Second, Zedekiah broke an oath which he had sworn in God’s name. He swore on oath in the name of Yahweh to remain loyal to King Nebuchadnezzar. However, when Egypt came soliciting his loyalty, he forsook his oath. So what of us? Are we faithful to our oaths? In baptism, we have sworn in the name of the Triune God to love Him and serve Him as our Lord and Master – are we? In marriage, we have covenanted to be faithful, heart and soul, to our spouse unto death – are we? In our membership vows, we have sworn to support the ministry of this church, to submit to her leadership in the fear of God – are we? Beware the fate of Zedekiah.
Third, Zedekiah’s largest failure was that he failed to turn to Yahweh. When he entered upon the great responsibility of kingship, he relied upon his own strength rather than Yahweh’s. This was his most critical failure. So to whom are you turning in your difficulties? Perhaps there are new pressures at work or at home? The children are not behaving as you have hoped? A friendship is under strain? To whom are you turning? Have you turned to God, prayed to Him, asked Him to intercede on Your behalf? If not, beware the fate of Zedekiah.
These warnings serve as a reminder that as we come before the Lord to worship, we must confess our sins and transgressions to Him, beseeching Him to forgive us for the sake of Christ. As we do so, we will have a time of private confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin. Let us kneel together as we confess.