2 Chronicles 36:11-21
“11Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign; he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. 12He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. 13He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the Lord that he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
15The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling-place; 16but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy.
17Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their youths with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or young woman, the aged or the feeble; he gave them all into his hand. 18All the vessels of the house of God, large and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officials, all these he brought to Babylon. 19They burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had made up for its sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfil seventy years.”
God can bear the people’s sin no more, as 2 Chronicles chapter 36 delineates how they have strayed. This chapter describes succinctly what happened and how the country of Judah as a people, even still people of God, ended up in captivity in Babylon. They do, indeed, go on a journey and not a willing one. How do they cling to hope and trust in their God when they no longer live in the land? It is a question that is hard to answer. Yet, as the book ends not in desolation but in hope, the final verse reads as such, “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up.”
Lord of Heaven and earth, even when we sin against you and neighbor, you endlessly offer a hand of forgiveness. May we clasp more tightly to that promise of grace than the sins of this world. In Christ’s name, we pray, Amen.