It was on this day in the year 561 B.C. that king Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, died in a Babylonian prison. On that same day, Yehoachim, the former king of Judah, was released from his Babylonian prison cell, after being held captive for 36 years.
Why did God allow the kings of Judah to be held and to die in such a hostile and pagan land? Why did God allow the people of Judah to be taken captive and led into Babylon in the first place. And why did He allow Jerusalem and the Temple to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar? Scripture tells us that’s most certainly the case.
“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.” (Daniel 1:1-2)
Items that were designated as holy in the service of the One and only God were allowed to be taken by idolaters and placed in the houses of worship for those pagan gods. Why? Likely, it’s for the same reason that His people, also designated as holy and called into His service, were allowed to be taken to those same lands. Where the people were concerned, God allowed them to be placed in Babylon physically because that’s where their heart was, already.
In other words, long before the destruction of Jerusalem, the people’s heart was intent to embrace a foreign mindset and lifestyle that is synonymous with the mingled nature of Babylon. His people went about doing what was right in their own eyes, mixing and mingling foreign ideologies, philosophies and the ways of the nations with those of the God of Israel. Therefore, the Creator simply placed them in a nation that epitomized the condition of their heart.
I have long believed that God will often give us what we want, but in order to teach us that what we want is not what we needed. The people in the desert wanted flesh and so He gave them flesh; until it was coming out their nostrils. The wanted a king, and so He gave them a king. That didn’t work out so well, either. Perhaps you have experienced that as well in your life. You longed for something that God allowed to happen, only to discover that it wasn’t what you thought it would be. Personally, a lot of my ministry experience has been to learn what not to do. Again, God will often give us what we want, or what we think we want, in order to prove to us it’s not what we need.
This thought is intended to accentuate a very basic, but integral component of our faith walk. We need to pray that His will is done in our lives. We don’t need to ask for what we want, or what we think He wants for us. But let us pray that He will give us and lead us to what we need, in order that we might truly draw closer to Him. As Paul said:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
If we guard our heart against our own selfish desires, it’s far less likely that we will stray toward a way of thinking and lifestyle that leads to the bondages of this world.