Key Passage: Ezekiel 37:27 “My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Big Picture Question: Why were God’s people in Judah captured? God punished His people for their sin.
Christ Connection: God was right to punish His people because they sinned. But God still loved them, and He was going to give His people a good king, just like He said He would. Many years later, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our King forever. Jesus took the punishment we should get for our sin.
Warnings had come from the prophets for decades. God patiently waited for His people to turn from their sin. The prophet Jeremiah spared few details when he warned Judah what would happen if they did not turn from their evil ways. (See Jer. 25:1-14.)
But the people of Judah did not change their ways. The kingdom had been declining for years, despite King Josiah’s efforts to prompt nationwide repentance. When King Josiah died, the people went back to their old ways, worshiping idols and disobeying the Lord.
The time of judgment had come. God used Nebuchadnezzar—the king of Babylon—to deport the people from Judah to Babylon where they would live in exile for 70 years.
Nebuchadnezzar went to Judah when Jehoiakim was king. He put Jehoiakim in chains and took him to Babylon. Jehoiachin became king, and Nebuchadnezzar came back for him too. Many of the people in Judah were taken, along with treasures from the Lord’s temple. Nebuchadnezzar put Zedekiah on the throne in Jerusalem.
The people of Judah were unfaithful to God. Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, and God poured out His wrath on Judah. Nebuchadnezzar showed no mercy to the people of Jerusalem. The Babylonians set fire to the Lord’s temple and the king’s palace. They destroyed the wall around Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies carried most of the people away to Babylon as prisoners; only poor farmers were allowed to stay and work the land. The people were held captive in Babylon, serving the king for 70 years.
God was right to punish His people for their sin, but He kept His promise to provide a king through David’s family. Ultimately, God punished our sin through His Son, Jesus, and made Him our King forever.
Help your kids understand that God did not abandon His people! The prophet Jeremiah told what would happen next: “The days are certainly coming … when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah” (Jer. 30:3). God was going to save His people from captivity and raise up a new King—a forever King—from the line of David. (Jer. 30:9)
Family Activity: If your family had to move from your home right now, what one item would each person want to take with them? Why would they want that item? Discuss the Southern Kingdom’s capture and exile. Invite family members to think about how it would feel to be forced from your home as a punishment for your sin. Close with a prayer of thankfulness to God for sending His Son to take the punishment for sin.