Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 25.
And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison (2 Kings 25:27).
Last Sunday we completed a 51-part expositional sermon series through 1-2 Kings (for the 1 Kings series look here and for the 2 Kings series here).
2 Kings ends in chapter 25 with the devastating fall of Judah and Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the exile in Babylon. The conclusion is bleak, even though God’s judgement of Judah was just.
The gloomy chapter concludes, however, in vv. 27-30 by noting that when a new king took the throne in Babylon he “lifted up the head” of Judah’s exiled King Jehoiachin. He even spoke kindly to the Jewish king and set his throne above the thrones of the other conquered and exiled kings (v. 28). He changed his prison garments and gave him to eat bread continually (v. 29), and he also gave him a good allowance (v. 30).
This ending has been variously interpreted. Some have seen it as a final tragic insult, but others (and I think this more likely) see it as a sign of hope.
Just as God was with Joseph even when he was sold into slavery by his brothers and cast into prison by Potiphar, so God would be with Judah.
Just as God was with Sampson, even after his hair was cut, his strength lost, and his eyes gouged out, and yet we read, “Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he as shaven” (Judges 16:22).
So, the LORD would continue to be with the people of Judah in exile. The exile would be the worst of times, but it would also be the best of times. The people would understand that God was with them even in their chastisement, even in their failure and suffering. They would understand that their God was not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the God of the nations.
Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah was that a rod would come forth from “the stem” of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1). To get the rod or shoot, Judah had to be cut down to a stump.
What lessons do we learn from 2 Kings 25?
First, we are taught here to fear the wrath of God. We deserve what Judah got, and we would receive it had not Christ interposed his precious blood (Romans 5:9: “we shall be saved from wrath through him”).
Second, we should understand how the Lord sovereignly uses the circumstances and powers of this world as instruments in his hand to bring about his greater purposes. Ours is not to know every detail but to trust with childlike faith. As the old hymn puts it, “What’er my God ordains it right.”
Third, we reminded that even when all hope seems lost, there is still hope for all those who place their faith in Christ. We can look to his blameless life, death, burial and resurrection. The rod has come from the stem of Jesse, and he will come again, and he will set all things right!
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle