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For because of the anger of Yahweh it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence. And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. Bible

“And Zedekiah rebelled.” The Hebrew of this phrase can be translated as a purpose clause like the KJV, “that Zedekiah rebelled,” or it can be translated like the REV (cp. CJB; ESV; NASB; NET; NIV), in which case Zedekiah’s rebellion is not “because of” God’s anger, but in spite of it. King Zedekiah ignored the revelation that would have saved his life, the lives of his family members, and the lives of many of his people.

Zedekiah was a weak king who was fully aware of the disasters that had happened to Judah, and was also aware that some prophets and Scripture said—although he did not act like he believed it—that sinning against Yahweh brought destruction while repenting and obeying Him would bring relief (although at this point it was likely too late for any real salvation of the kingdom of Judah, but individuals could still be saved; cp. 2 Kings 23:27). At this point, sin and ungodliness had become so imbedded in the culture and the people of Judah, and especially the leaders, that God was fighting against Judah, not for it (Jer. 21:3-7). Zedekiah was concerned about his safety and likely realized that he could not defeat the Babylonians, and therefore his best course of action was to surrender. However, he eventually gave into his fear of, and pressure from, the elite of Judah and false prophets (Jer. 38:19; 28:1-4). He rebelled against Babylon, and so the prophecies of Jeremiah about what would happen to him if he did that came to pass (Jer. 27:12-15; 38:18, 21-23; Ezek. 17:16-21). He was not executed, but died a captive in prison (Jer. 34:4-5), but it must have been a miserable captivity: the last thing he saw on earth was his sons being executed, then he was taken as a prisoner to Babylon where he died (Jer. 52:9-10).

Every leader has good advisors and bad advisors, and it is often the case that the bad advisors use fear and pressure to manipulate and get what they want. A good leader finds ways to ignore the advice of the bad advisors and overcome the fears and trouble they predict. A good leader must have the strength and courage to do things God’s way, if not to make things better in this life, to make them better in the next. God no doubt tells us what He does about Zedekiah, and shows him to us as an example, so we can see the personal and social disaster that a weak and self-centered leader brings upon himself and those he leads. Zedekiah knew God’s will, but did not have the courage to obey it.


Commentary for: 2 Kings 24:20