Reading about the last days of Judah before Nebuchadnezzar took them into captivity pains the soul. While the warning of impending doom came during the reign of Manasseh, the brief respite during the days of Josiah could easily have caused the people to suppose the LORD had relented. However, subsequent events proved the necessity of this coming divine judgment. Pharaoh Necho dethroned Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, in favor of his brother Eliakim as a precursor to the inevitable sentence, having imposed tribute on the land as well (2 Chr. 36:1-4). Thus Eliakim, under the name Jehoiakim, reigned in Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar came through with the Babylonian army, pillaging Jerusalem and taking Jehoiakim to Babylon, leaving his eight year old son, Jehoiachin, behind to “rule,” a decision the Babylonian king quickly changed in favor of Zedekiah, Jehoiakim’s brother (2 Chr. 36:5-10). But Zedekiah learned nothing from all of this, ultimately rebelling against God and Babylon despite warnings from Jeremiah (2 Chr. 36:11-13) as the nation descended into committing abomination upon abomination (2 Chr. 36:14).
At this point in the narrative, the author, grieving in his soul for the next words he would write, penned, “And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. (2 Chr. 36:15-16). “Till there was no remedy”is such a sad statement, simultaneously demonstrating both the extent of the long-suffering of God and the depth of Judah’s depravity. Judah went into captivity—not because God would not save her, but because she refused to be saved. Indeed, the chronicler’s description offers commentary on Jesus’ words as He anticipates Jerusalem’s later destruction by Rome, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34).
And so it is with so many today. God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), but many are not willing. Jesus died to be “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1–2), but many are not willing. And just like Judah during the days of Zedekiah, many people ignore the scripture’s warnings of coming judgment, thinking that any time for concern has passed. In this, like those Jews of old, they misinterpret the LORD’s patience as if He has grown tolerant of their sin. However, Peter reminds us, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9). The gospel provides the remedy for sin (Rom. 1:16-17). Nevertheless, there is no remedy for a people are not willing to accept God’s remedy.