2 Kings 24

 2 Kings 24
Pastor Lawrence Bowlin

We are coming to the end of God’s patience with Judah.  They are going into exile.  I find it so interesting to try to understand what the author includes and leaves out.  The author leaves out much of the history about Babylon and Egypt.  We are not told why Babylon came to Israel but we know that Babylon was warring against Egypt.  For three years Jehoiakim served Nebuchadnezzar but (sensing weakness?), the King of Judah rebelled against Babylon.  If you lived in Judah, you might have concluded the exile was all Jehoiakim’s fault.  Read v. 2 carefully.  Discover this phrase, ‘the Lord sent against him’ (Jehoiakim) enemies  ‘to destroy it (Judah), according to the word of the Lord that He spoke by His servants the prophets.  Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord . . . .”

This should not be glossed over.  God is doing all this.  Now, try telling these foreign armies or kings that they are a part of God’s eternal plan and they would scoff at you.  But they all were under the authority of the Ancient of Days.  What this means is that evil, God-hating kings and armies in complete freedom of will were actually accomplishing what God intended from all eternity. That is a deep mystery but that is what both Old and New Testaments affirm.

Notice also, the Lord, when provoked, can become your enemy.  If He warns and warns and you refuse to repent, God will do terrible things against you.  But as any athlete knows, don’t get upset when your coach dogs you.  Get worried when the coach no longer coaches you.  The coach has given up on you.  So, do not harden your heart when God keeps putting His ‘finger’ on your sin. That is grace.  He wants joy, freedom, and grace to fill your life and to see you flourish and grow.  Sin always makes you little; always pulls you down; always bring misery.

God did not send cupcakes to Judah but God sent enemies to destroy Jerusalem.  You might think, after reading about the building of the temple, that God really, really cares about the temple.  In a way He does for what the temple represents.  But God cares more about a person’s eternal destiny, their soul, and whether they are experiencing all that God can give them.  He sent these foreign armies to destroy.  Let that sink in.  He is willing to destroy an idol you have.  Anything that is above God is an idol.  He does not want to set your idol aside.  God wants to destroy it.  Let Him. Don’t hide your idol, coddle it or nurture your idol.  Let God destroy it.

Then think about the phrase, ‘according to the word of the Lord that He spoke by His servants the prophets.’  God is a talking God.  He warns through His servants.  No minister is a prophet or priest.  But if a minister of fellow Christian is faithful in teaching the Bible, that word is for you.  Listen to God’s word when you read it, when it is taught, when you sing it, as you listen to the Word when read or when you memorize or meditate on it.  The Word is an expression of God’s grace to you.  That Word is extremely important to God.  More than we can ever realize.

In 2 Kings 24, we read of Jehoiakim and then his son Jehoiachin who only reigned 8 years.  But Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city in v. 10.  At this point, Jehoiachin  really had no other options.  He ‘gave himself up to the king of Babylon’ in v. 12 and in vs. 14-16, the reversal of God’s blessing takes place.  Notice the words used ‘carried away,’ ‘captives,’ ‘none remained,’ v. 15 ‘carried away,’ ‘took into captivity.’  V. 16, ‘brought captive.’  This seems like the end.  This is the worst possible outcome.  Or is it?  Even during these dark, confusing, times of upheaval, God is accomplishing His will.

If you saw the temple being ransacked, your home in rubbles, and experienced years of neighbors leaving until finally you began the long trek to Babylon, and someone said to you that this was all part of God’s will, what would you have said or thought?  Maybe the same things the disciples thought as they watched the only perfect person die in the most humiliating way possible.  You may have protested in both of those events, “There is no way this is God’s will.  Not this violence, not this horror.  I just can’t believe God would want this.”

Peter understood this dilemma.  In Acts 2:23, Peter is recorded as saying, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”  Both things are completely true.  Jesus was killed by sinful people who acted in freedom. No one forced them to kill Jesus.  They did this because they wanted to and became responsible to God for their act. That is why Peter tells them to repent in v. 38.

What also is true is that all the events leading up to and including the very act of crucifixion were because of God.  Jesus suffered ‘according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.’  This was THE plan of God.  God didn’t come up with a plan at the end of Jesus’ life because no one cared for His preaching.  As if, God really had a better plan but He had to go to plan B due the unexpected rejection of His Son.  No, this gospel was planned from eternity.  Nothing could have stopped God’s plan.  Not even sinful, angry, hateful people.  No one nor could one thing have stopped the exile or the cross.  As awful as these things were, God used even the sin of clenched fist and gritted-teeth people who were hating God to bring about the salvation of many millions of people, if not billions.

Dear heavenly Father, many of Your ways are difficult for us to understand.  Your ways are so deep, profound, mysterious, and humbling.  You know all things from the beginning.  We need to continually repent and keep seeking You.  We need You in our weakness.  Lord, forgive our sins.  Cleanse us with the blood of Christ and fill us with Your Spirit.  We lift up our church, the church worldwide and all suffering Christians who need Your strength just to get through one more day.  In Christ’s splendid Name.  Amen.