August 31, 2023
“On the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month of the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Judah’s King Jehoiachin, in the year Evil-merodach became king of Babylon...”
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“On the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month of the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Judah’s King Jehoiachin, in the year Evil-merodach became king of Babylon, he pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and set his throne over the thrones of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, for the rest of his life.” 2 Kings 25:27-30 (HCSB)
Anne Moody was a college student who was active in the American civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 1960s. At one time, part of the civil rights strategy involved sending black students to “white” churches during Sunday morning service. Sometimes, police officers were waiting along with ushers. It was common for black students to be turned away. But there was one Episcopal church they entered, where two ushers asked them to sign the guest list and ushered them to their seat. Moody describes her reaction:
“I stood there for a good five minutes before I was able to compose myself. I had never prayed with white people in a white church. The church service was completed without one incident. It was as normal as any church service. However, it was by no means normal to me. When the services were over, the minister invited us to visit again. He said it as if he meant it, and I began to have a little hope.”
It was only the fact that a church did not turn her away, only the freedom to sit in a worship service with whites, only the convicting earnestness of a minister inviting her back, not much at all. But it was enough to give her a glimpse of hope. That is the impact that Jehoiachin’s fortunes should have on us. We should begin to have a little hope. In the midst of His punishment, God did not completely abandon Judah or the dignity of its king.
Matthew 1:12-16 lists the noble Messianic genealogy from Babylonian exile to Jesus’ birth. It picks up where 2 Kings 25 leaves off. Who would think that any sure hope from God could be hidden under this failed, dilapidated, and captive people? At this time, Israel had lost the land (the Abraham promise) and the kingship (Davidic promise). Read Haggai, Nehemiah, and Malachi. Life was hard for the dispersed Jewish people.
But precisely in this time, this darkest, bleakest segment of Israel’s history, that the Messiah was given! It was when the people were trampled, beaten down, and teetering between faith and compromise that the “Sun of Righteousness” began to blaze. This all sends a powerful message to America today. It is not solely our repentance but also the Lord’s stubbornness that brings redemption. The God of power and fury turns from His fury in Jehoiachin’s “Descendant,” Jesus. God dispensed grace and mercy for the sake of His gracious promise while at the same time weighing judgment according to His Word. And this should give us more than a little hope.