Babylon takes Judah captive, and the line of Judah’s kings comes to an end. 1 & 2 Kings end with one former king of Judah, Jehoiachin, enjoying Babylon’s kindness after he spends significant time in prison. This happens after Jehoiachin’s successor and the Babylonian-appointed final king in Judah, Zedekiah, is brutally murdered along with his sons for insurrection.
Judah’s temple has been destroyed, and Israel’s great riches completely plundered. Like so many nations before them and after them, Israel is humiliated and ravaged by their neighboring superpower. But Israel (north and south) doesn’t represent just any nation. This is God’s chosen people, the ones to whom God promised kings forever to sit on David’s throne. These are the people through whom God promised to establish a light for the nations. These are the descendants of Abraham, who was promised kings in his line and uniquely great blessings for the world. These promises to Judah go way back! After this defeat, the prophets and leaders up until the time of Jesus will try to make sense of what God has done to Israel and Judah. And make no mistake, it is God, not Babylon, who ruined Judah; Babylon is just God’s instrument.
The end of the books of Kings invites us to ask if God will establish another line of kings for Israel and how God will work to keep His promises. Thankfully, the story of God and His people continues with surprising answers to those questions.