Consequently all of the kings of the Southern Kingdom are from the family line of David. Some love and honour God and others fall away to serve other gods. The pendulum swings back and forth for nearly 400 years. During the reigns of the bad kings God sends prophets including ISAIAH, MICAH and JEREMIAH.
Unfortunately there are more bad kings than good and again the warnings of
the prophets go unheeded - and things deteriorate. Eventually God sends the
Babylonians into the Southern Kingdom to take over. The FIRST
DEPORTATION TO BABYLON IN 597BC sees the key leaders of the community
taken in captivity to Babylon. During the SECOND DEPORTATION TO BABYLON
IN 586BC all but a very few poor people (who are left to keep the wild
animals and tumbleweeds from taking over the land) are deported and spread all
throughout the vast Babylonian Empire. God continues to speak to His people
through the prophets, even in exile, such as through EZEKIEL.
The Israelites are still holding onto God's promise that someone from the
line of David will always remain on the throne.
In 538BC there is an EDICT OF RETURN. A small
contingent of Israelites with NEHEMIAH the governor and
EZRA the prophet/priest return to rebuild the city of Jerusalem,
starting with the city wall. Most of the Israelites stay put, having done as God
instructed and made themselves a comfortable life and home in Babylon. The
small contingent that returns is encouraged along in their endeavours by the prophets
HAGGAI, ZECHERIAH and MALACHI.
The rebuilding and repatriation project goes ahead but they are unable to
return things to their former glorious state - as built up during the reigns of
David and Solomon.
That marks the end of the main events of the Old Testament. What follows is a period of about 400 years
when God remains silent. There are no more prophets and no further key developments
in the history of His people during that time.
This diagram is from Gospel
and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament by Graeme
Goldsworthy, page 32. (Published by Paternoster Press in 1982)