Lonely Port

Chapter 10

 Fire in the Gates

It was late fall of 589 B.C., and Nebuchadnezzar left the Golden Metropolisthe greatest city of his timeto settle an account with a rebellious king. And, all unknowingly, to fulfil a prophecy of God.  

Down the Processional Way of Marduk, through the Ishtar Gate, and out of Babylon, first north and then west, this ruler of kings marched with his soldiers. Behind them lay the fabled riches of the capital of Neo-Babylonia, with its Hanging Gardens, Temple Tower, palaces, estates and pleasure groves.

Ahead of him lay Jerusalem and a people who had defied him;a people who had also refused to obey the God of heaven. But let us go back still earlierto an amazing prediction given by the King above all kings. We find it recorded in Jeremiah 17:

"Thus said the lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem. And say unto them:

"Hear ye the word of the lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:

"Thus saith the lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.

"But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

"And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of is city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein: "Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem—and this city shall remain forever.

"And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south. .

"But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day,—then I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched." Jeremiah 17:19-27.

When Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, made a secret pact with Psamtik II, Pharaoh of Egypt, his doom was sealed. Learning of it, Nebuchadnezzar moved quickly. Devastating the land as he went, he arrived at the walls of Jerusalem in January of 588 B.C. The siege, beginning on the 15th of the month, continued for thirty months. The wall was broken through on July 19, 586 B.C. when the city was taken and looted.

 And then a fire was set by the Babylonians in the gates that went like an inferno through the desolated metropolisand utterly destroyed it. That which God had predicted in 608 B.C. had finally taken place. When a people knowingly refuse to obey God, they are headed for trouble. Israel had refused to keep the Law of God and observe His holy Sabbath. And so the fire came and swept everything away.

 "Now In the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem. And burned the house of the Lord, and the king's house; and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about." Jeremiah 5 12-14.

The prophecy was given and the prophecy was fulfilled. But the Bible tells us more:

"Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord.

“And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel. Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen, and polluted the house of the Lord, which He had hallowed in Jerusalem.

"And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place.

"But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.

"Therefore He brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon.

"And they burned the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia;

"To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years." 2 Chronicles 36:11-21.

For hundreds of years the people of God had refused to keep His Sabbaths. Now the land was to lie desolate for seventy years because of their refusal.

When God speaks, we can do no better thing than to obey. God has given you and me—and everyone else in this world—the Seventh-day Sabbath as a day to come apart and rest and worship Him.

He gave us this holy day at the Creation of this world when He had finished making all things.