We are at times puzzled when we encounter passages in the bible that seem to contradict one another. Skeptics are quick to point these out as evidence that the bible cannot be true. This is not new. As a case in point, Josephus, in his first century A.D. “Jewish Antiquities” relates how Zedekiah, the thirty-two-year-old final King of Jerusalem did not believe the prophecies of Ezekiel and Jeremiah regarding the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (ca. 586-587 BC) because there was a seeming contradiction in the prophecies of the two men:
“It happened that the two prophets agreed with one another in what they said as in all other things, that the city should be taken, and Zedekiah himself should be taken captive; but Ezekiel disagreed with him, and said that Zedekiah should not see Babylon, while Jeremiah said to him that the king of Babylon should carry him away there in bonds. And because they did not both say the same thing as to this circumstance, he disbelieved what they both appeared to agree in, and condemned them as not speaking truth therein….” (Jewish Antiquities, Book 10, Chapter 7.2)
Here is the prophecy by Jeremiah:
Thus says the LORD, “Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it; 4 and Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but he will surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will speak with him [a]face to face and see him eye to eye; 5 and he will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 32:3-4, NASB)
Here is the prophecy by Ezekiel:
12 The prince who is among them will load his baggage on his shoulder in the dark and go out. [g]They will dig a hole through the wall to bring it out. He will cover his face so that he can not see the land with his eyes. 13 I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there. (Ezekiel 12:12-13,NASB)
One might presume the king of Babylon to be in Babylon; however, he was actually headquartered in Riblah on the northern frontier of Israel (2 Kings 25:6). So,when Zedekiah was captured, he was taken to Riblah, where he was sentenced by Nebuchadnezzar. His sons were then slaughtered before his eyes. Zedekiah was then blinded, bound in bronze fetters and taken to Babylon.
The outcome was that BOTH prophets were right. He would see Nebuchadnezzar but not Babylon, though he would be taken there.
As we study God’s word, there will always be questions, but let’s not be too hasty to disregard it or challenge it’s relevance because we think we see a contradiction. Study carefully. God’s word cannot fail, and He will fulfill His word in remarkable ways.
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