2 Kings 24:8-14; 25:27-30
Before we plunge into 1 Chronicles, let’ spend one more day looking at the final section of 2 Kings.
Try to imagine being an 18-year old king of a city, and, after only three months on the throne, staring into the eyes of the world’s greatest emperor who is standing outside your door. This was the situation of Jehoiachin when Nebuchadnezzar, the emperor of Babylon, came to conquer Judah. In that desperate situation Jehoiachin did the smartest thing he could have possibly done. He surrendered. He, his mother, and all of his prominent citizens, voluntarily submitted themselves to the conquering hand of the Babylonians and allowed themselves to be taken back to Babylon and placed in detention camps. As a result of this surrender, they survived.
As we read the last paragraph of 2 Kings we see that Jehoiachin not only survived, he actually thrived in Babylon. He was allowed to become part of the royal court of Babylon and enjoy the perks that come with that position for the rest of his life. Even further, his descendants enjoyed this same high social status in Babylon.
So, why are we spending a day of our devotional looking at the pampered fate of Jehoiachin? Is it because he is an example of godliness that we can follow? Is he a shining beacon of standing courageously for God in the face of all odds? No. The truth is that, as far as we can tell from scripture, Jehoiachin was a weenie. He started off his reign doing evil. Then, at the first sign of invasion, he willingly handed over the keys to the kingdom in order to save his own skin. Finally, when he was offered a seat in the palace of a pagan king, which would have undoubtedly required religious compromise, he took the position without a problem. He wasn’t really a good guy.
So, that enhances the question. Why look at this man? Today, we are not looking at the life of a man, we are looking at the sovereign hand of God at work in the world in spite of the lack of integrity of one man. God spared Jehoiachin because God had a promise to keep. God had promised that there would always be a man on the throne that would come from the line of David. Had Jehoiachin died, then the promise to David would have died with him. In this story there lays a deeply profound, yet infinitely difficult truth to understand. God’s plan will always prevail, and sometimes His actions may seem, in the short term, to defy our concept of justice.
When we get to the prophets in our reading in a couple of months, we will come across a man named Jeremiah. He was the godly, God-appointed preacher of truth that was ministering in Jerusalem at the time of Jehoiachin. It is an interesting study to contrast the lives of these two men. Jehoiachin did everything “wrong” and he lived a pampered life in the royal palace of Babylon. Jeremiah did everything “right” and he lived a life of oppression and was eventually dragged to Egypt by a horde of bandits and ended his life in obscurity and apparent defeat.
Where is the justice in that? Where is God in that?
There are two important lessons to discuss from this study:
1. God’s blessing cannot always be measured by external circumstances.
Jesus told us that God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and that the rain falls on both groups as well. In other words, “life happens” and it is not always a direct result of spiritual activity, good or bad. The judgment of a man’s value and the measure of his worth is not achieved through the evaluation of his external circumstances, but through the quality of his relationship with God.
2. God’s eternal plan is always in action, and it is always good.
Even though it doesn’t seem fair that Jehoiachin was spared, it had to happen in order to preserve the covenant with David and pave a way for Jesus to come. The Messiah had to be from the direct line of David in order to fulfill the prophecies and the covenant, and ultimately, save the world. God’s desire, from the moment He created us, was to have a loving relationship with His creation. He is working His plan, and we cannot understand it. All we can do is rest assured, that no matter how good or bad the momentary circumstances may be, God loves us and is working out His good plan in the world.