Royalty and Ruin


Judah’s Amazing Stubbornness

The first years of Jehoiakim’s reign were filled with warnings of approaching doom. All of a sudden a new world power, the Babylonian empire, was rising in the east and swiftly overshadowing Assyria, Egypt, and all other nations. RR 150.1

The king of Babylon was to be the instrument of God’s wrath on unrepenting Judah. Again and again the armies of Nebuchadnezzar would enter Jerusalem. Tens of thousands would be taken captive in forced exile. One after another, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah were to become vassals of the Babylonian ruler, and all in turn were to rebel. Severe punishments would be inflicted on the rebellious nation, until at last Jerusalem would be burned, the temple that Solomon built destroyed, and Judah fall, never again to occupy its former position among the nations. RR 150.2

Through Jeremiah, many messages from Heaven marked those times of change. The Lord gave the children of Judah ample opportunity to free themselves from alliances with Egypt and to avoid controversy with Babylon. Jeremiah taught the people by acted parables, hoping to awaken them to a sense of obligation to God and to encourage them to maintain friendly relations with the Babylonian government. RR 150.3

To illustrate the importance of obedience to God, Jeremiah gathered some Rechabites into the temple and set wine before them. As expected, he met with absolute refusal: “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall drink no wine, you nor your sons, forever.’” “Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, ... “The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; for to this day they drink none, and obey their father’s commandment.”’” Jeremiah 35:6, 12-14. But the people of Judah had not obeyed the words of the Lord and were about to suffer severe judgments. RR 150.4

The Lord declared, “I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now everyone of you from your evil way, and amend your doings, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall live in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors.’ But you did not incline your ear or obey Me.” “Therefore, ... I am going to bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem every disaster that I have pronounced against them.” Verses 15, 17, NRSV. RR 150.5

When people turn from correction until their hearts become hardened, the Lord permits them to be led by other influences. Refusing the truth, they accept falsehood that leads to their own destruction. The Chaldeans were to be the instrument by which God would punish His disobedient people. Their sufferings would be proportional to the light they had despised and rejected. God now would bring His displeasure on them as a last effort to stop their evil course. RR 151.1

God pronounced a continued blessing on the Rechabites: “Because you have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, ... ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not lack a man to stand before Me forever.’” Verses 18, 19. The lesson is for us. If the requirements of a wise father were worthy of strict obedience when he took the most effective means to secure his family—present and future—against the evils of intemperance, surely God’s authority should be held in much greater reverence! By His servants He predicts the dangers of disobedience. He sounds the warning and reproves sin. His people are kept in prosperity only by His mercy, through the vigilant watchcare of His chosen instruments. He cannot uphold a people who reject His counsel. RR 151.2