God Told Zedekiah to Surrender to Nebuchadnezzar
If you’re just joining me with this post, please read the previous one first, so this one will make more sense. The provocative title of the previous article aside, it really is very important that we come to terms with what our response, as Christians, should be when government is seen to become more and more corrupt. Many would agree that this is happening in America and has been happening for a while.
In the case of Zedekiah, Israel as a nation, had become corrupt and had lost their way as far as God and His mandates were concerned. It had been going on for some time too. In fact, most of the book of Jeremiah provides us with a tell-all look at how bad things in Israel had become and for how long God allowed them to exist before finally doing something about it. They could never say they were not warned either, many times.
While I do not believe America is in any way connected to Israel, it might be helpful to look at what happened with Israel when their rebellion became too much for God to put up with anymore. It must be remembered that Israel was created as a theocracy, with God in charge. That was never the case with America. Ever. In that sense then, any real similarities between America and Israel are purely imagined by people with great imaginations and a terrible ability to rightly divide Scripture.
We previously discussed Zedekiah from Jeremiah 38 in our last article and we ended with Jeremiah telling Zedekiah what to do when King Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem. We left off with Jeremiah 38:17.
17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, If you will indeed go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will survive.”
Basically, God was telling Zedekiah via Jeremiah that Zedekiah needed to “go out to the officers” when the siege of Jerusalem happens, which is simply another way of saying that King Zedekiah was directed by God to surrender to the officers. You wouldn’t go out to the officers of an opposing army except to try to agree on terms of surrender.
If Zedekiah did this, God would spare him and his entire household and God also promised that Jerusalem would not be burned to the ground. Did Zedekiah obey these simple instructions? Let’s find out.
By the way, after we learn how Zedekiah responded to God’s command, I then want to discuss why God told Zedekiah that he was to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. That may or may not happen in this article, so bear with me.
1 Now when Jerusalem was captured in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it; 2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the city wall was breached, (Jeremiah 39:1-2).
Chapter 39 of Jeremiah tells us that not too long after God gave the command that Zedekiah should surrender when Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem, lo and behold, here he comes! It took the Babylonians about 18 months to get through the city walls surrounding Jerusalem, between verses 1 and 2, as we learn.
Jeremiah had been warning about the eventual fall of Jerusalem for quite some time. That day finally arrived and it came with a vengeance. But Zedekiah still had the power to make things go easy or hard. He only needed to obey God to have it go “easy.”
Can you imagine living inside a city where you know there is an army outside, building ramps and things in order to be able to get into your city? Let’s remember what God had said to King Zedekiah. He said that if Zedekiah went out to the officers (to surrender), all would be well. Oh, he would be taken captive, but he would survive along with his entire household. Moreover, Jerusalem would not be trashed and set afire.
So during the 18 or so months that Nebuchadnezzar’s army was building a way to breach Jerusalem’s walls, Zedekiah failed to obey God. Instead, it appears as though Zedekiah and his men of war were possibly planning something. Unfortunately, what we learn in verse four tells us that it wasn’t anything good.
When Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, they fled and went out of the city at night by way of the king’s garden through the gate between the two walls; and he went out toward the Arabah.
Zedekiah and his soldiers came up with their solution to the problem at hand. It was to run! These guys wound up fleeing during the dark of night through a special gate between the two walls built around the city and headed toward Arabah. Good thinking. If this wasn’t so tragic, it could almost be a Laurel & Hardy movie!
Again, what was Zedekiah supposed to have done? He was told to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar’s officers, right? It wasn’t like he could complain that he didn’t know or have enough time either, because it took the Babylonians time to breach the walls, to the tune of about 18 months! There really was no excuse at all.
In the end, not only did Zedekiah not do what God wanted (surrender), but actually did the exact opposite by not even engaging the enemy at all and running from them! Here’s what happened next and it’s not pretty.
6 Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes at Riblah; the king of Babylon also slew all the nobles of Judah. 7 He then blinded Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in fetters of bronze to bring him to Babylon. 8 The Chaldeans also burned with fire the king’s palace and the houses of the people, and they broke down the walls of Jerusalem.
Remember, had Zedekiah obeyed God, none of what is described in the above verses would have happened. Zedekiah had been warned and he chose to do his own thing instead. He was caught, his sons killed right in front of him and his own eyes were put out. The last thing he saw in this life were his sons being killed. After this, the Babylonians (Chaldeans) then burned the palace and destroyed Jerusalem’s walls. They took people and things with them back to Babylon, leaving only the poorest people to make due. Eventually, this leads some people to eat other people in order to survive (cf. Ezekiel 5:10; Lamentations 4:10). What a terrible fate and all because Zedekiah chose to disobey the LORD God when he failed to surrender.
So, why did God tell Zedekiah to surrender in the first place? Shouldn’t God have told Zedekiah to prepare for battle? Did Jeremiah misunderstand God and relay the wrong thing to Zedekiah? Hardly.
No, it is very clear that God wanted Zedekiah to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. To have done so would have spared his life and the city. That’s not what happened because Zedekiah feared everything but God.
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to stop here because I want to leave myself space to fully explain why God wanted Zedekiah to surrender and I also want to see if there is any application for us today, living in America, where thing are literally going to hell in a hand basket and that basket is being carried by Satan himself. Join me then!
 Dr. Thomas Constable’s Notes on Jeremiah, p. 197.
Entry filed under: israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: jeremiah, jerusalem besieged, nebuchadnezzar, zedekiah.