Judgment and Exile

Shared on November 26, 2023


Our lesson this week is the last lesson for the fall quarter. Throughout this quarter we have been taking a look at living obediently to the word of God or choosing to live in disobedience. We know that obedience is rewarded by the Lord and that disobedience displeases the Lord. For the past couple of weeks we have seen that God’s rebuke should not be made light of. So, in the last lesson of the quarter, we will look at what happens when one chooses to make light of God’s rebuke and mercy.

Fall of Jerusalem

Our lesson opens with a recounting of how the Lord had sent warnings by “His messengers” (the prophets) to both Israel and Judah (v.15).  Scripture speaks of the warnings that the Lord sent as a show of His compassion – His mercy.  Again, as we have seen in recent weeks, God’s rebuke is a show of the Lord’s mercy as He gives opportunity after opportunity to get right in the eyes of God.

To be clear, the Lord still rebukes the world today through the ministering of the gospel. The Lord still calls on repentance today as He has no thoughts of evil towards anyone. God’s desire towards the world has always been love which is why He gave the world His only begotten Son to reveal the divine truth to the world. As it is said in Jeremiah 29:11, God’s thoughts towards us are of peace, a future and hope.

The consequence of not heeding God’s warning

As I have said in recent weeks, there are many people who do not take God’s warnings of His judgment seriously. There are many that scoff at the notion of the church being raptured out of the world. There are many that mock the second coming of Christ as they often sarcastically state, “Jesus hasn’t come back yet.”

The mocking of God today is not brand new.  As we see it stated in our lesson this week, Judah, the southern kingdom, mocked the messengers (prophets) of God as they despised their words – the words of God.  Why did they mock and despise the Lord’s word and the prophets?  

As shown through the wickedness of Israel, the northern kingdom, the prophets spoke against their.  You see, Israel, in their eyes, were living really well – they had it made.  So, the thought that wickedness would come upon them was a laughing matter until they were conquered by the Assyrians.  For Judah, the calls for repentance was a laughing matter as well.  Many living in the world today share that same sentiment of God’s call for repentance because of His judgment against sin; it truly is a foolish sentiment to share in with.

We know that it is foolish to see God’s call for repentance as a laughing matter because of what happened to the northern kingdom being destroyed by the Assyrians.  Judah should have realized there would be consequences for living foolishly but they did not realize it until they were soon greeted by the Chaldeans (Babylonians).  As scripture tells us, the Babylonians conquered the southern kingdom and left Jerusalem in shambles (vss.17-19).

Many died to the Babylonians and those that did not die to the invasion of the Babylonians were carried away to Babylon in exile (v.20). The Babylonian exile lasted for 70 years, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths (v.21), as spoken by Jeremiah (Jer. 29:10). Again, this was not God’s desire for Judah but the people of Judah brought this on themselves as they chose to live wickedly.

Now, though Judah’s exile was temporary, I do want to draw a parallel to what the sinner will one day face for choosing not to heed the word of God. In the book of Revelation, we are shown a great white throne where those who are, and were, convicted of living in sin will stand before the Lord and face judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). The sinner will be cast away, exiled, from His presence though that exile will not be temporary.

As we saw in last week’s lesson, the sinner’s exile will be eternal.  So, while many participate in the apostasy of the world today with great rejoicing in their hearts, they will one day realize the consequence of their actions.  As a pastor, I do my very best to make this warning known to those that are living in sin today.  All of us sincere believers have been tasked by Christ to minister the gospel to warn those who are of the world to turn away from the pathway of destruction.

The suffering of God’s punishment

The end result of choosing to indulge in sin and never repent is one that is filled with much despair and suffering. As we saw last week, hell is going to be a place of great regret and suffering; there will be no light in hell, just pain (Amos 5:18-20). This picture is illustrated for us through the exile of Judah in Babylon, as shown in Psalm 137.

Psalm 137 is very unique in that it gives us an idea of what the captives experienced during the 70 years of the Babylonian exile. Scripture does not really give us this picture aside from some things we are able to see in the book of Daniel. Other than that, scripture is recorded up to the fall of Jerusalem and then it skips over the seventy years to Judah returning back to Judea.

The psalmist tells us that they were “by the rivers of Babylon” where they wept as they remembered Zion (Jerusalem) (v.1).  In the book of Lamentation, you can get a sense for Jeremiah’s sorrow after the fall of Jerusalem though Jeremiah was not carried away to Babylon after Jerusalem’s fall; Jeremiah dwelt in Egypt after Jerusalem’s fall.

Babylon wasn’t too kind to those that had been carried away from Jerusalem. Through Daniel’s story, we know that the Babylonians tried to force those of Judah to assimilate to their culture by forcing their diet and even their religion on them (Dan. 1:3-5). In Jerusalem, the people lived free and they longed for that freedom that they took for granted. This psalmist explained that they hung up their harps as they had no joy to even play music or sing songs (vss.2-3).

The Babylonians would mock them and ask them to sing one of the “songs of Zion”, but those of Judah had no inspiration to do that.  We see that they asked within themselves, “how shall we sing the Lord’s son in a foreign land.  Then, on top of that, they were in such despair that they essentially desired to be cursed should they live and forget Jerusalem (vss.4-6).

There does not seem to have been much joy at all in the hearts of those that had been carried away into exile, does it?  Honestly, this is remarkable because these same ones, prior to the exile, had no problem scoffing at and mocking the prophets and God with great joy.  The people had it made until they did not have it made, right?  Does this scare or bother you?

What we read in this psalm certainly scares and bothers me though I am not afraid for what will happen to me.  You see, I know where my eternal home will be and that will be with the Lord in His kingdom.  However, I fear for those that ignorantly mock the Lord today because I know what their end will be, spiritually speaking.  Again, hell is going to be a place of great despair where those in hell will long for the days where they had an opportunity to get right in the eyes of God but refused.

Many try to paint hell today as being a place where sinners will get to live religion and faith free; they picture it as being a big party but hell will not be like that at all.  There will be no joy in hell.  There will be no peace and contentment in hell.  There will only be regret and longing for better, which will never come.

So, the big takeaway from today’s lesson is to, once again, not take God’s offer of mercy and salvation for granted.  Many people are of the belief that they will not suffer due to their sins because they are not suffering today.  I repeat to you, don’t you share in such a foolish mindset because the Lord will one day judge you and if you are found to be fully convicted of sin, you will be exiled.  

In hell, you will long for the Lord but the Lord will not hear your cries.  I encourage you to get right today and don’t you wait.  If you end up waiting, you may wait too late and miss the opportunity.  Let us remember, tomorrow is not promised to anyone!  Now is the time for you to make corrections so that you do not end up being cast away from the Lord for eternity.


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