In 2 Kings 24:20 we are told that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. On the face of it, that seems reasonable – why not rebel against an overlord if you think you can get away with it? But God did not view it that way: he saw it as a breach of promise. Oaths and promises are important to God…
So what had Zedekiah promised Nebuchadnezzar?
We don’t hear anything about the promise when it was actually made, except that Nebuchadnezzar had made Zedekiah swear by God. We do, however, read some details in Ezekiel 17 that help us to work out what it was. Ezekiel was to tell the people a parable about a cedar twig which was plucked by a great eagle and planted. It grew and became a vine and depended on the eagle.
However, another eagle came and the vine bent its roots and branches towards it and looked for water from it.
God announced that the vine would not thrive, but would wither and be plucked up. He went on to explain that the first eagle was the king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) and the second was Pharaoh of Egypt. Although the vine is not named, the details identify it unquestionably as Zedekiah, the king who replaced Jeconiah when he was taken into captivity.
God also said that in approaching Pharaoh Hophra for support, Zedekiah had committed treachery against God (Ezekiel 17:20). The details given in Ezekiel 17 are as follows.
Making the covenant:
Breaking the covenant:
God announced that Zedekiah would be taken to Babylon and die in captivity because of his unfaithfulness (Ezekiel 17:16; 20).
God takes promises seriously.
Article on Covenants on Bible Tales Online.
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