At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the Lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king’s mother, the king’s wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah. II Kings 24:10-17 ESV
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 ESV
Did you know that once there was a major league baseball player who had only one arm? His name was Pete Gray, and he had lost his arm when he was six in a truck accident. Pete Gray worked hard to overcome his loss, and he became a very good player. He could bat with one arm, and he could catch a ball with a glove on his one hand, toss the ball up while he tucked the glove under his other arm, then catch and throw the ball. Pete Gray played for the St. Louis Browns in 1945. He was only able to bat .218, and because he had to take a moment to toss the ball up after he caught it, runners often took an extra base on him. The reason he was able to play in the major leagues was because World War II was going on, and all the best players such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Stan Musial had had to go off and fight in the war. The military effort took the best players away from baseball, and other players like Pete Gray played instead.
The same kind of thing happened to the city of Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged the capital city, and King Jehoiachin of Judah surrendered to him. Nebuchadnezzar took the king away to Babylon along with all his officials and his mighty soldiers the noble women and all the people who were skilled at crafts and the metal smiths. Nebuchadnezzar also took all the rich treasures out of Solomon’s temple. He set up a puppet king and changed his name to show that this new king was under his control. Nebuchadnezzar took everything that he thought was of any value, and just left the poor and common people in their land with their puppet king, Zedekiah.
What happened to Jerusalem is a little bit like what sin did to all of us. It took away from us anything good that we had to offer God, and all it left was weakness and helplessness. We were under the control of sin and death, but God had mercy on us and sent Jesus to rescue us. Jesus defeated sin and death by dying on the cross for us and coming back to life again. We are weak and helpless on our own, but with Jesus we are strong. He helps us every day and forgives our sins, and will give us life forever with him in his heavenly kingdom.
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us even though we were weak and helpless, and for giving us new life in you. Amen.