I wonder if you're a procrastinator?
…don't worry, you can tell me later. (!)
Do you put things off? Are there some things that you avoid doing? Perhaps there's a DIY project at home, that you've been meaning to get around to, or promising your wife that you'll finish…but you just never get around to it?! Perhaps there's something in your garden that's been waiting to go to the dump for weeks? Or maybe, like me, it's paperwork that you put off? You know you've got to write that letter, or send off that application, or fill in that form, you just never get around to it.
How long after Christmas can you still write thank you cards?! That's what I used to wonder when I was growing up.I think every thank you card I've ever written begins with the words, 'I can't believe it's taken me so long to write to you…'! We put things off, don't we? We say to ourselves, 'It's ok, I'll do it tomorrow.'… Always tomorrow…Or as the Spanish would say, "Manana, manana." "Tomorrow, tomorrow…" and we hope that tomorrow never comes. We put things off, we delay things, and it's ok because tomorrow never comes. That's what the Kings of Judah had been saying for years. But in 2 Kings 25 we find out what happens…
When Tomorrow Comes.
We're nearly at the end of our journey through the book of 2 Kings and we've known that the end is coming for some time.
Look back in 2 Kings 21, in v.10-13 God told Manasseh that he was going to destroy Judah, just as he had destroyed Israel; v.13b
I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes out a dish, wiping it and turning it upside-down.
Then came the wicked king Amon, and then about 50 years later over the page in 22 v.16-17, God told Josiah the same thing, and again in 23 v.26-27. He was going to wipe them out. Then came Jehoahaz and he did evil in the eyes of the LORD. Then Jehoiakim and he did evil in the eyes of the LORD and so last week in 24 v 2 we read. Jehoiakim was replaced by Jehoiachin and he did evil in the eyes of the LORD and so the Babylonians came and laid siege to Jerusalem, in v.10, and Nebuchadnezzar came and took away all the treasure of the Temple, and all the royalty and the most important and powerful people away to Babylon. And he made Zedekiah king. A kind of puppet king, in charge in theory, but really under the rule of Babylon. And Zedekiah, we're told in v.19, did evil in the eyes of the LORD.
The end is coming. The people of Judah and the kings of Judah had known for nearly 100 years that God was going to wipe them out because of their sin. But they kept on sinning; they kept on doing evil in the eyes of the LORD. Manasseh and Amon and Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin and now Zedekiah. But incredibly, God still loved them. He was still good to them. And he kept sending his prophets to preach to them and to urge them to turn back to Him. And one of the prophets that God sent to Zedekiah is one of the most famous prophets in the Bible, and his name was Jeremiah. And in the book of Jeremiah we can read all about this stage in Judah's history from the prophet's point of view. And in Jeremiah 38 we read these amazing words, 38 v.17-18
Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, 'This is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: 'If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live. But if you will not surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, this city will be handed over to the Babylonians and they will burn it down; you yourself will not escape from their hands.
Zedekiah didn't deserve God's kindness. He had only ever done what was evil in the eyes of the LORD, But God still loved him, he was still kind to him. And God offered him one last chance to do what is right, and to save his life and his family and the city of Jerusalem from destruction. And he made it perfectly plain to Zedekiah what would happen if he didn't. All he had to do was surrender to the king of Babylon. And what did Zedekiah do? Look at the end of chapter 24
The first thing we see in this passage, is Zedekiah…
1)Wasting your last chance, 24v.20 – 25v.12
There have been times when I have watched parents looking after young children. And there is something in the room that is dangerous, like a knife, or something fragile, like a glass. And the parent picks it up shows it to the child and they say very clearly and carefully, 'DO NOT TOUCH, it's very dangerous!' And the child sees, and you can see that they understand exactly what they are being told. But a little later on when Mum or Dad are distracted, the child crawls over to the table, and they reach out for the knife. And then you see them! And the child turns, looks at their parent…and grabs the knife anyway.
Have you seen that? They know what they are doing is wrong. But they make sure their parent can see…and then they do it anyway. (And I'm glad I don't have children!) Zedekiah is exactly like that child. Even though he doesn't deserve it, God sends Jeremiah to tell Zedekiah to surrender to the Babylonians and he and his family and the city will be saved. And Zedekiah hears, and understands, and then just like that disobedient child it is as if Zedekiah looks God in the eyes…and he does exactly the opposite of what he's been told.
The evil kings of Judah had known this day was coming for years. And for years they had ignored the warnings and rejected God. It was as if in their arrogance and their pride they had said in their hearts. "Manana, manana" 'I don't need to worry about God's judgement, I don't need to change my life. God's been saying that stuff for years. His prophets have been scaremongering with that same old line for as long as anyone can remember. Don't worry, Manana, it will happen tomorrow, and tomorrow never comes.' And as we look at the story of Zedekiah this morning, the question for you and me is, 'Are we doing the same thing?' Before he left to be with his Father Jesus told his disciples that one day he would come back. And he warned them that when he came back a second time it would be the end of this world. And that all of us, on that day, would stand before God and have to give an account for our lives. And if God finds that in this life we have lived our lives following Him, trusting in Jesus for our salvation, and living with Him as our Lord, then we will be saved from punishment and welcomed into heaven. But if God looks at our lives and finds that in this life we never acknowledged him, if he examines us and finds that we lived our lives doing our own thing and going our own way, then we will face the punishment we deserve.
Like Jeremiah going to Zedekiah, Jesus came to us to warn us about what will happen, and to tell us how we can still be saved. The question is how have you responded? Have you been like Zedekiah? And the world around you says, 'Don't worry about that! They've been saying that for years, that's just Christians with their scaremongering.'
We read in 2 Peter 3 v.3-4
You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.
'Don't listen to Christians,' they say, ' you don't need to change your life! Manana, manana.' That's what king Zedekiah said. That's what the world around us says. And so Zedekiah said to himself, 'They're right, what's the worry? I'll worry about it tomorrow.' And then tomorrow came… And he had wasted his last chance.
And I have to ask you this morning, is that you? Maybe you've never heard this before. Maybe this is news to you. Well then thank God that he brought you to church this morning, and do something about it. Don't wait. Jesus is coming back. Judgement is coming. But I suspect that for most of us, we have heard this before.
Perhaps you've heard it before, but you know in your heart you've been putting this off. You come to church you go through the motions, but you know that you've never really bowed your knee to God, that you don't really live with Jesus as king of your life. Well then don't be fooled, because God will not be. Do something about it today. Of course I can't tell you this morning that this is your last chance…but I also can't tell you that it's not. So don't keep putting it off until tomorrow, because one day tomorrow will come.
And on that day, it will be…
2)The end of everything good, 25 v.13-21
Look again at v.1-7
The city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonians. For what must have been 18 long months no-one came out and nothing went in. All the Babylonians had to do was wait. And when every last scrap of food had been eaten there was no choice left, they had to run for it. But of course they had nowhere to run and the Babylonians hunted them down.
They captured the king and made him watch while they killed his sons. Then they plucked out his eyes and took him away. And did you notice in v.5 where they captured Zedekiah? On the plains of Jericho! At the very place where 800 years earlier God's people had come into the Promised Land, now they are being kicked out! At the very sight were Joshua and the army of God had marched around the city of Jericho and captured it, now the king of Judah is captured and humiliated and tortured. Jericho was the first city the people of God captured in the Promised Land. And Jerusalem was the last. And it is as if God ordained the events in this chapter to highlight that EVERYTHING, from first to last, EVERYTHING good that he had given them was now being taken away. And of course the very greatest gift that God had given his people wasn't the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. It was himself, his presence.
Ever since the people had left Egypt, God they had travelled with them. At first in the tabernacle, and for the last 400 years in the Temple which Solomon had built. At the heart of the nation was Jerusalem, and at the heart of Jerusalem was the Temple, the place where God symbolically dwelt with his people, the place where the people went to pray to God, and hear from god and offer their sacrifices to God. And now the Babylonians utterly destroy it, v.8-9 and 13-15
They took it all away, they stripped it of all its finery, v.16-18 And then they took away the chief priest and anyone else associated with it and had them killed, v.18-21. Now the author of 2 Kings could have just said, 'And the Babylonians came and destroyed everything.' But he doesn't. He itemizes all these things, he gives us all this detail… Form Jericho to Jerusalem, from the Promised Land to the presence of God himself.It was ALL TAKEN AWAY.
Judah leaves the land, and God leaves his people, and it is the end of everything good. And again, this is a picture of the final judgement. For 100s of years now the kings of Israel and Judah had done evil in the eyes of the LORD. For 100s of years they had lived their lives saying to God, 'We want nothing to do with you.' And now God had given them what they asked for. They didn't want him in their lives, so he leaves them, and it is utterly miserable. Why? Because God is the source of everything good. And it's the same for you and me today. If we live our lives ignoring God, rejecting him and wanting him to have nothing to do with our lives, then on judgement day he will give us what we ask for.
Do you see? People say, 'I don't want God, I don't need him, I'm doing fine without him thanks very much.' But that's the thing, you don't live without him. No one does! He is the one who gives us life, no-one lives without God. And he's also the one who gives us everything good. He is the source of everything good. If God left you, you would have nothing, it would be miserable, it would be…frankly…hell. When God finally left the people of Judah, when that day that he had been promising finally came… When tomorrow came, they had wasted their last chance and it was the end of everything good.
Are you a procrastinator? Have you been putting off getting right with God? Well don't be fooled, one day tomorrow will come. One day, that day will be today. And when that day comes there will be no more chances and it will be the end of everything good. So make things right today, now. I want to recommend three things you could do.
If this is all new to you and you want to find out more, why not take a copy of this book home with you. They are free, on the table on your way out, and will tell you how you can make a fresh start with God and be ready for that day. Maybe you have heard this before but still haven't made a decision for Jesus. You've still got questions. Well then why not come to Christianity Explored. You can ask all the questions you like and find the wonderful answers.
Or maybe you are a Christian already, you are ready for that day, but 2 Kings 25 has reminded you that there are others around you who you know and love who aren't. Why not take a copy of this book and give it to them, or why not invite them to CE.
Finally, perhaps you can't wait that long. Perhaps you know now that you need to stop running away from god and doing evil in his eyes, and turn back to him. Well I'm going to pray a prayer now and if that's you then you can say 'Amen' at the end. And please come and speak to me or Rod or any other Christian you know at the end.