Script for the May 16th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.
Welcome to the May 16th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis, and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida.
Today’s reading is in 2 Kings 24-25 and John 5. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.
2 Kings 24
Today’s Old Testament Bible reading is thoroughly depressing. The city that David claimed as the capital city of Israel will fall to Babylon. Just like the northern nation of Israel that went into captivity over 100 years earlier to Assyria, Judah will now be taken into captivity by Babylon.
2 Kings 24:1 (CSB): “During Jehoiakim’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked. Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years, and then he turned and rebelled against him.”
What Jehoiakim thought when he rebelled against Babylon is beyond our understanding. He did not cry out to the Lord, and we’re not told that he conspired with other nations. He simply rebelled against the most powerful nation in the world at that time.
But what we do know is that his actions, which he made of his own free will, were accomplishing the Lord’s purpose. It seemed that everyone responded by coming against Jerusalem.
2 Kings 24:3 (CSB): “Indeed, this happened to Judah at the Lord’s command to remove them from his presence.”
Why was God Himself fighting against Jerusalem? Because He was righteously indignant at the evil that Manasseh had done. It’s as if Manasseh had set the standard for the evil that many of the kings after him followed. And God’s patience had run out.
Then Jehoiakim died.
2 Kings 24:6 (CSB): “Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors, and his son Jehoiachin became king in his place.”
We are also told that the Egyptian king had lost much territory and possessions to the much more powerful kingdom of Babylon.
2 Kings 24:7 (CSB): “Now the king of Egypt did not march out of his land again, for the king of Babylon took everything that had belonged to the king of Egypt, from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River.”
Now we get to the final legitimate king of Judah.
2 Kings 24:8-9 (CSB): “8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem… 9 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight just as his father had done.
In the book of Jeremiah, we realize that the Lord became furious with him (where he is called Coniah). He even pronounced the man childless saying that none of his children or descendants would ever sit on the throne of his father David. You can read about this in Jeremiah 22:24-30.
And, of course, this was most certainly true. None of his kids would have a chance to reign on the throne. He would be the last legitimate king of Judah who would be in power when Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians.
2 Kings 24:10 (CSB): “At that time the servants of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon marched up to Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.”
Eventually, Jehoiachin and everyone else surrendered. Everyone was forced to leave and make the 700-mile or so journey to their new homeland. The temple was ransacked of anything left that was valuable. Nothing was left.
The only thing the Babylonians left in Jerusalem were the poor people.
So who was left to rule over the few people that have been left behind amidst all the rubble?
2 Kings 24:17 (CSB): “And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place and changed his name to Zedekiah.”
So Zedekiah was not the son of Jehoiachin. He was his uncle. As such, he was not a legitimate king that the original residence of Jerusalem would’ve approved. But Babylon was calling the shots now, and the people had been so demoralized that they may not have cared.
2 Kings 24:18 (CSB): “Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem…”
We’re told that Zedekiah did what was the evil in the Lord’s site, the Lord became angry at him, and then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. This will not end well for him.
2 Kings 25
In verses 1-2, we read that King Nebuchadnezzar came against King Zedekiah. He laid a siege around the city for somewhere between one and two years.
2 Kings 25:3 (CSB): “By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that the common people had no food.”
Jerusalem was finally breached. But all of the Jerusalem warriors fled. Zedekiah, himself, fled with them, heading east toward Jericho. But as the Chaldean army caught up to him, his army scattered leaving him exposed. He was soon captured.
2 Kings 25:6-7 (CSB): “6 The Chaldeans seized the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. 7 They slaughtered Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes. Finally, the king of Babylon blinded Zedekiah, bound him in bronze chains, and took him to Babylon.”
Then, in verses 8-21, we read of how Jerusalem was utterly destroyed. Previously, the Temple, royal palace, and other places were ransacked. Now, they are burned to the ground. The Jerusalem Temple is now gone. The Babylonians even took more people into captivity.
But the Babylonians wanted to so decimate Jerusalem that it would not soon be a problem for them. So they tore down the protective city walls. The people who were left behind in Jerusalem were now thoroughly exposed and vulnerable to any other group that wanted to attack them. They would have been completely demoralized.
Previously, King Nebuchadnezzar had made Zedekiah ruler over Jerusalem. But that didn’t turn out so well. So, the king of Babylon appointed another leader over Jerusalem. But this isn’t going to turn out well, either.
2 Kings 25:22-24 (CSB): “22 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, over the rest of the people he left in the land of Judah. 23 When all the commanders of the armies—they and their men—heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah. The commanders included Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite—they and their men. 24 Gedaliah swore an oath to them and their men, assuring them, ‘Don’t be afraid of the servants of the Chaldeans. Live in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well for you.’”
Gedaliah tried to ease the people. If they would just get used to their new normal and submit to the king of Babylon, everything would go well for them.
But there were some people who didn’t like his advice.
2 Kings 25:25 (CSB): “In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men and struck down Gedaliah, and he died…”
Then, the residents of Jerusalem fled to Egypt. They knew that if they stayed, the wrath of Babylon would fall upon them once again.
God’s people have been decimated. For hundreds of years, God’s prophets had warned the people of Israel and Judah that if they remained in disobedience to the Lord, He would be forced to punish them. They generally refused to listen and make the adjustments, so God’s judgment had come. Thousands have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have been taken into captivity.
Then, as 2 Kings 25 is coming to an end, we read of how a new king of Babylon pardoned Jehoiachin. He was no longer confined to prison. Instead, he dined with the king and received money from the king.
Honestly, I find this sickening. Because of Jehoiachin’s wicked example, the people of Jerusalem and Judah continued to disobey the Lord. So God’s judgment came upon them. But while thousands are dead and others have had their lives turned upside down, Jehoiachin is living in the lap of luxury. So what does he care about people who were hurt under his leadership?
Listen to one of the Psalms penned during this Babylonian captivity. You can hear the deep sorrow and despair.
“1 By the rivers of Babylon—
there we sat down and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There we hung up our lyres
on the poplar trees,
3 for our captors there asked us for songs,
and our tormentors, for rejoicing:
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”
4 How can we sing the LORD’s song
on foreign soil?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not exalt Jerusalem as my greatest joy!
7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites said
that day at Jerusalem:
“Destroy it! Destroy it
down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who pays you back
what you have done to us.
9 Happy is he who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rocks.”
That last verse is harsh. Yet, it could be that the psalmist had watched as Jewish babies were thrown against the rocks by the Babylonians. So, the psalmist was just crying for justice. He wanted God to repay the Babylonians for what they did.
As we look at the first 16 verses of this chapter, there are some questions we just cannot answer. But, we’ll look at the things we do understand.
In verse 2, we are told about the Pool of Bethesda. When we read verse 7, we are left scratching our heads. After Jesus asked a particular man, who had been disabled for 38 years, if he wanted to be healed, listen to what he said in his response?
John 5:7 (CSB): “‘Sir,’ the disabled man answered, ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.’”
So why did the waters stir up? Was there something going on that was explained geologically? Or was this an angel as some superstitions claimed? We just don’t know the answer to it.
But Jesus looks at the man who is helpless to fix his own problem and asks him if he wants to get well. Of course, he did. But Jesus often liked to hear people express their specific needs before he stepped in to heal.
Then Jesus performed a miracle. We define miracles as activities that temporarily violate the laws of nature. They are, by definition, not normal.
John 5:8-9 (CSB): “8 ‘Get up,’ Jesus told him, ‘pick up your mat and walk.’ 9 Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk…”
So Jesus healed the man. In an instant, his life turned around because he had encountered Jesus.
But something we observe with Jesus is that He seemed to love doing things that would get an emotional response from people. Regarding the Pharisees, it seems as if Jesus often waited for the Sabbath, the day of rest, to come so that He could perform a miracle. Just listen to what happened after this man got up and walked away.
John 5:9-10 (CSB): “9 … Now that day was the Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘This is the Sabbath. The law prohibits you from picking up your mat.’”
The Pharisees were incredibly competent at pointing out the sins of others. They didn’t see sin so much in themselves, but they were incredible at pointing out violations of the law in others. Honestly, we’ve all got at least a little bit of Pharisee in us, and we need to ask the Lord to help us eradicate it. We want to stand up for biblical truth, but we also want to equally embrace grace, something the Pharisees didn’t understand.
The Pharisees didn’t acknowledge the miracle, but they inquired as to who told the man to pick up his mat and walk on the Sabbath. He didn’t know. He had no idea who Jesus was.
John 5:14-16 (CSB): “14 After this, Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well. Do not sin anymore, so that something worse doesn’t happen to you.’ 15 The man went and reported to the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 Therefore, the Jews began persecuting Jesus because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.
The man who was healed apparently didn’t realize how much the Pharisees would come to hate Jesus. So he ran to tell them who the miracle worker was. He might have thought they would want to get to know him. And he would be wrong.
In verse 17, Jesus explained why he was working on the Sabbath.
John 5:17 (CSB): “17 Jesus responded to them, ‘My Father is still working, and I am working also.’”
In other words, Jesus said that they didn’t want to know what would happen if God stopped working on the Sabbath. Everything would fall apart. So, since Jesus was God, of course, He would work on the Sabbath to perform acts of mercy, too.
But Jesus’ response brought on even more anger. The Pharisees were furious at Him!
John 5:18 (CSB): “This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill him: Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal to God.”
So the Pharisees were clear early on in Jesus’ ministry that He was saying that He was God. He fit the description to a t of all that the Old Testament said about Him. Yet, the Pharisees were so blind with their doubt that they never bothered to investigate the claims.
Sure, they would say that they were looking for the Messiah. But they would reject the true Messiah when He actually showed up.
In verses 19-23, we read that Jesus says that He is utterly dependent upon the Father. Jesus, serving in the position as a Son, was subservient to the Father and could only do what the Father was doing. The Father loves the Son, and so He revealed to Jesus what He was supposed to do. Then Jesus said that the Father honors the Son, but he says in verse 23: “… Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”
The Pharisees were clearly not honoring Him.
Then, Jesus told them exactly what was on the line – eternal life. If they wanted to enjoy the Lord in this life and in the life to come, they had better get it right regarding who Jesus was.
John 5:24 (CSB): “Truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”
Then, Jesus appeals to witnesses who spoke on His behalf. According to the Old Testament, something could only be considered true if there were two or three witnesses to validate the truth.
Deuteronomy 19:15 (CSB): “One witness cannot establish any iniquity or sin against a person, whatever that person has done. A fact must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
So Jesus appealed to his first witness. In verses 31-35, He talked about John the Baptizer. He said that to the folks who were listening…
John 5:35 (CSB): “John was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.”
They liked John and enjoyed his message. Yet He had made it clear during this ministry that Jesus was “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
Then, in verses 36-40, Jesus appeals to second and third higher witnesses – the works He is doing and the Lord.
John 5:36-37 (CSB): “36 But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about me that the Father has sent me. 37 The Father who sent me has himself testified about me…”
Jesus was speaking with words of reason and with a clear knowledge of what the Old Testament required for something to be considered true. Yet, the Pharisees remained obstinate in their unbelief.
John 5:40 (CSB): “But you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.”
Then, Jesus appeals to Moses as a witness.
John 5:45-47 (CSB): “45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But if you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe my words?”
The Apostle John recorded much of what Jesus said. The other Gospels, typically called the Synoptic Gospels because they have so much in common, spend a bit of time quoting Jesus but they spend much time on what Jesus did. John, however, focuses on what Jesus said.
The Gospel of John is rich, and it allows us to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. In this chapter, we hear Him say that He had more than enough witnesses to validate His identity as the Son of God. Only blatant, persistent, intentional disbelief would cause someone to refuse to believe that He was who He said He was.
Lord Jesus, it’s easy to look down our nose at the Pharisees for not believing that You were the Son of God. But, Lord, we know that there may be things about You that we don’t believe because we don’t know them or haven’t given them serious thought. There is so much in Your Word that You say about Yourself that we just haven’t spent enough time studying. Help us, Lord, to study and enjoy Your Word but not as an end in itself. Help us to study and enjoy Your Word so that we can get to know You even more as you really are. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!