2 Chronicles 35-36 The fulfillment of seventy years

From 2 Chronicles 35-36

13 14 Chronicles thumbZedekiah, the priests and the people were exceedingly unfaithful. The house of the LORD, has moved from being consecrated and dedicated by Solomon. Now it is polluted and corrupted. This is the end. Judah is about to be carried into exile.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

A few kings have passed since our last reading. The LORD delivers Hezekiah and Jerusalem from the Assyrian king Sennacherib. But Hezekiah does not respond thankfully to the LORD. Eventually Hezekiah repents of this and wrath does not fall on Jerusalem at that time.

14 Kings-4

Following Hezekiah was his son Manasseh. Manasseh does evil in the sight of the LORD and once again introduces foreign worship into the kingdom. Each faithful generation seems to have a problem telling the next of the LORD and encourage them to remain faithful to him. Manasseh leads Judah into more and more idolatry. The LORD sends another king of Assyria to discipline Manasseh and he repents to  a point.

Amon, Manasseh’s son has a brief reign afterwards. Like Manasseh before him Amon does what is evil in the sight of the LORD, but he does not humble himself. Can see from the timeline above where Judah is headed? Amon is killed by his servants and they in turn struck down by the people of the land.

Josiah his son reigned in his place. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked as David did. He initiates religious reform in Judah. Removing once again the places and idols of foreign worship. Josiah finds the book of the Law (also called the book of the covenant) in the temple. Unsurprisingly it had been lost and forgotten in the reign of previous kings. Josiah realises how angry the LORD must be with Judah. Josiah made a covenant with the LORD, to keep the LORD’s commands, testimonies and statutes and he includes all who are in Jerusalem in it as well. Josiah is also noted for keeping the Passover. It had not been observed like this in many years. Josiah is killed in battle.

Jehoahaz follows Joash. His reign is a huge three months long. He did evil in the sight of the LORD and is carried off into Egypt.

Jehoiakim follows him and he also does evil in the sight of the LORD. Nebuchadnezzar has him bound in chains and taken to Babylon.

Jehoiachin his son reigns after him. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. Nebuchadnezzar also brought him to Babylon. Jehoiachin’s brother Zedekiah is made king.

11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the Lord. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord, the God of Israel. 14 All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem. (2 Chr 36.11-14)

Zedekiah, the priests and the people were exceedingly unfaithful. The house of the LORD, has moved from being consecrated and dedicated by Solomon. Now it is polluted and corrupted. This is the end. Judah is about to be carried into exile.

15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (2 Chr 36.15-16)

The LORD had tried time and time again to turn Judah away. His prophets were mocked and despised.

17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand.

18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels.

20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. (2 Chr 36.17-21)

The burning of the house of the LORD signified the LORD had left it. It also anticipates the next book Ezra. The wall will not be rebuilt till they return as we will read about in Nehemiah. The land enjoying its sabbaths is a curious expression. Suggesting the land itself needs rest from the people and particularly, their iniquity. The same concept is mentioned in Lev 25.4-5; 26.34-35,43.

The people of Judah will be away in exile for seventy years. Seventy years of punishment for their sins. The passage skips forward to this time.

22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’ ” (2 Chr 36.22-23)

The reign of Cyrus, king of Persia and the beginning of Ezra. The skip ahead shows that Judah has been sufficiently punished for her sin, and the LORD true to his word has initiated their return to the promised land.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Judah’s judgment, exile, return and Jesus’ coming involve several prophecies and a particular way of looking at sin and punishment. The common understanding of sin at this time is very similar to monetary debt. Sin is like debt. Debts need to be paid off. Normally sins were paid off by punishment unless the debt was forgiven (e.g. Mt 18.23-35).  Ive drawn the chart below and will quote a few passages to explain.

14 Sin Punishment Forgiveness

When we get to Isaiah we will see it is a book full of judgment. It seems at times the LORD is going to wipe out Judah forever. But there are pockets of hope in the form of prophecies. The LORD promises to punish Judah for a time, then restore her.

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,

and cry to her

that her warfare is ended,

that her iniquity is pardoned,

that she has received from the LORD’s hand

double for all her sins.


3 A voice cries:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;

make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill be made low;

the uneven ground shall become level,

and the rough places a plain.

5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,

and all flesh shall see it together,

for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isa 40:1–5)

Hopefully you can see in this passage Judah is being punished for her sins. Once the debt has been settled the LORD promises to return in his glory. Jeremiah has a similar idea.

14 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 15 but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.


16 “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. 17 For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes. 18 But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.” (Jer 16:14–18)

Jeremiah predicts their return from exile after a nominated period of punishment. While in exile Daniel pleads for forgiveness of sin. For his own and the whole nations.

16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”


20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.


24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. (Dan 9:16–24)

Daniels prayers are answered. Seventy weeks remain before Judah’s sin has been dealt with. Then the LORD will usher in a new era.

Ezra is about to come but is that the predicted time? Yes and no. As Ezra 9.6-15 indicates Judah is still being punished for her sin because they are under foreign rule. They think of themselves as their slaves (Ezr 9.9; Neh 9.36-37).

Story of Jesus

When Jesus came he fulfilled these and many other promises of redemption. When John the baptist quoted Isa 40-1.2 he had the historical context of Judah’s sin, punishment and forgiveness in mind.

3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord;

make his paths straight.’ ”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.


11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mt 3:1-6,11–12)

Peter and the apostles likewise saw Jesus as the end of Israel’s period of punishment and opportunity for repentance and forgiveness.

29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:29–32; cf. Lk 24.21; Acts 1.6)

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.