WITHOUT HOPE AND WITHOUT GOD
Thank You, Lord, that “because of [Your] great love we are not consumed, for [Your] compassions never fail” (Lam. 3:22).
Read 2 Kings 25:18–30
18 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. 19 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and five royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of the conscripts who were found in the city. 20 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 21 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.
So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.
22 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to be over the people he had left behind in Judah. 23 When all the army officers and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, Jaazaniah the son of the Maakathite, and their men. 24 Gedaliah took an oath to reassure them and their men. “Do not be afraid of the Babylonian officials,” he said. “Settle down in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it will go well with you.”
25 In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, who was of royal blood, came with ten men and assassinated Gedaliah and also the men of Judah and the Babylonians who were with him at Mizpah. 26 At this, all the people from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.
27 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. 28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHave you ever been shown favor that you didn’t deserve?
The prophets who foretold the destruction of Israel and Judah also prophesied a message of hope: that God would restore his people through the “remnant,” which was understood to be those people left in the land after the majority had been exiled.
You can imagine the glimmer of hope as the “remnant” gathered around Gedaliah and the crushing of that hope when he was assassinated (25). Verse 26 would have shocked Jewish readers. The unthinkable happens—the remnant of God’s people return to Egypt, ignoring God’s warnings through Jeremiah (Jer. 42:19). It is as though the whole of their relationship and experiences with God (the Exodus, the desert experiences, the settling of the Promised Land) has been for nothing. In abandoning the land, the remnant were abandoning God.
Without a remnant, how could God restore his people? The answer comes when and where we least expect it (27–30). After 37 years in a Babylonian prison, Jehoiachin is shown undeserved kindness. If the Babylonian king showed compassion, surely God would not abandon his people! Even when we think that we are beyond God’s care, he reaches out in mercy (Eph. 2:12,13).
To whom could you give a gift of grace today? What could you do to show them favor even when they don’t deserve it?
Lord, I pray for those I know who may be feeling far from You or are facing hopeless situations. May they find Your hope today.