The Exile - 2 Kings 24:8-16
Now John and Kathryn [down at Riverside] have got a new puppy called Jack. Who’s seen Jack or a picture of Jack? Do you want to see a picture of Jack? [engage]
OK, here he is [picture of Jack on the screen]
Let’s have a big ahhh.
But Jack’s not just cute. He can be a bit naughty. He can jump up on you or run all over the flower beds. And when he’s been naughty, what do you think happens to him? [engage]
That's right, he has to go and sit in the doggy naughty corner.
And when I saw this doggy discipline in action, I thought: ah:
That’s a bit like children. Apart from Bethan, who can tell me what happens when children are naughty. [Or should I say what ought to happen when children are naughty?]
That’s right, they get disciplined or punished. And one type of punishment is being sent to the naughty step.
And that’s a bit like what’s going on in today’s Bible story. It’s now a long time after Solomon had been King over Israel and there’d been lots of kings in between Solomon and King Jehoiachin in that reading.
Who can remember the how old king Jehoiachin was when he became king? 
Was he a good king? [no]
What did he do wrong?
That’s right. Just like Solomon, He sinned against the Lord and worshipped wooden statues. Both the king and his people forgot to obey God. God had warned them that if they didn’t turn back to Him, then he’d throw them out of the Promised Land.
Just like when Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden for disobeying God. And just like when disobedient children are excluded from their parents presence and blessing on the naughty step.
God has told his people, if you disobey me, then I’ll throw you out of the Promised Land. And instead of being happy and blessed, you’ll be sad; because you’ll be living in a foreign land away from my presence. And God didn’t just warn them once. No; God's people, the people of Israel disobeyed God again and again. Just like Solomon, they kept worshipping false gods. Gods of wood and stone that weren't really gods at all.
So God sent messengers called prophets to warn His people. He sent lots of prophets and preachers. Again and again God warned His people. If you don’t turn back to me, I’m going to have to punish you. And it’s going to hurt.
But God’s people didn’t turn back to Him; so God did have to throw them out. Who can remember how long Jehoiachin lasted as Israel’s King ? [3 months]
And how did God throw His people out of the Promised Land?
That’s right. King Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon. And God used King Nebuchadnezzer to punish His people. King Nebuchadnezzar sent his soldiers to Jerusalem. And they all surrounded the city so nobody could come in, or out. It’s called a siege. And because no food could get into the city, they started eating all kinds of horrible things like horses and dogs. Let’s have a big err!
But eventually, even the horrible food ran out. And so in the end King Jehoiachin and his people came out with their hands up and surrendered.
So who can tell me what King Nebuchadnezzar did next?
[What did he take from Jerusalem back to Babylon?]
That’s right, he took all the treasures from the temple and the palace. He set the city on fire and smashed down the city walls. And he took all the important people off into exile in Babylon. Not just, King Jehoiachin, but all the leaders, the army and the businessmen as well. Only a few poor people were left behind in Israel. Everyone else was marched for miles and miles and eventually they got to Babylon; far away from the Promised land.
God’s people weren’t a nation any more. And they weren't living in the Promise Land. They were thousands of miles away sitting on some sort of giant naughty step. God had warned them again and again remember that if they didn’t turn back to him, he’d have to punish them. But they ignored God.
And they ignored His warnings about judgement. And so they suffered the punishment The punishment of exile. The punishment of being excluded from God’s presence. Because even back in Jerusalem,, the temple had been destroyed. And the temple was the place were God dwelt among His people. But even the temple was gone. Because God was gone. Just as he’d threatened. God had deserted His people because they wouldn't turn back to him from worshiping their false gods. So God’s people weren’t a nation any more; they weren’t living the in Promised Land and more. And they were blessed and happy. [exile banner number 6 on screen]
And that’s what we can see in this month’s banner. God's temple is destroyed. God's blessing is gone. And so the people are sad. And the arrow is pointing away from Jerusalem; to show that most of them had been taken off into exile. Off the giant naughty step in Babylon.
Even if people try to ignore or disobey Him, God’s still king, which is why there’s still a crown in the picture. God was simply doing what he said he’d do. If you carry on disobeying me, then I’ll have t punish you, He’d said through His prophets.
BT link & Application
And so the message from today’s story for us is that sin is serious. God takes sins so seriously that he punished His own people. It was quite drastic wasn't it. God’s punished His people because they’d disobeyed Him. And so the message is that sin is serious and we disobey God, then we deserve God’s punishment. [pause]
The exile was God's punishment. It was bad. But it was still only picture. A picture of hell. A picture of punishment far away from God's blessing that will go on for ever and ever. Imagine being on the naughty step for ever. Not just for a few minutes, but for ever. The exile of God's people in the days of King Jehoiachin is a giant warning for us. But the problem is that we’ve all disobeyed God in some way haven’t we. And so we all deserve God’s punishment. [pause]
But, that leaves us with a big question, doesn't it? BECAUSE GOD MADE some promises, didn't he? Remember God’s promises to Abraham and King David? The promises of people, land and blessing. And the promise that there would always be a king in David’s line on the throne. So how does all that fit with judgement and hell.
So, the question is, will God keep His promises? Is punishment the end of the story. And that's the issue we’ll be looking at next time. Because next time, we’ll be looking at the coming of Jesus. In some way, we’ve all disobeyed God and deserve His punishment. But Jesus came and live on earth; Jesus lived and died for me. To take the punishment that my sins deserved. That’s where the story of the whole Bible is heading: Jesus. And for His people, Jesus turns punishment into blessing beyond our wildest dreams.
But as we finish thinking about today’s Bible story, the Exile, let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, King Solomon messed up. And loads of Israel’s kings rejected you as well. Your own people rejected you and so you punished them by sending them into exile, away from the Promised Land. Help us to remember that you’re the king, you’re the boss, and to turn back to you when we mess up. Amen.
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