All the days it lay desolate, it kept sabbath…

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2 Chronicles 36:17 Therefore (God) brought up against (the Israelites) the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their youths with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or young woman, the aged or the feeble; (God) gave them all into his hand. 18 All the vessels of the house of God, large and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his officials, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 They burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, 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 made up for its sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. 

We’re told earlier in this chapter that Israel had been unfaithful to God for a very long time, ignoring the warnings of the prophets to turn from their wicked ways toward the Lord. Israel’s defeat was complete. What got my attention in particular is v.21:

… to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had made up for its sabbaths. All the days that (Jerusalem) lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

One of the sins of Israel was failure to keep the sabbath. When Jerusalem was laid waste, people killed, temple plundered, there was no more commerce or exploiting workers or harvesting crops or trade conducted on the sabbath – or any other day of the week. It would seem God’s people could not be bothered to keep the sabbath so God did it for them – in the most painful way imaginable. It’s interesting that, of all the sins committed by Israel, failure to keep the sabbath is singled out here by the Chronicler.

Lord I hate to admit it, but keeping the sabbath has been a struggle for me for years. During this season of Lent I’m leaning back into this practice. Give me grace to encounter you, even if my practice of sabbath is far from perfect. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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