Wednesday, May 17, 2023

2023.05.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 25

Read 2 Kings 25

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year/date of Zedekiah’s reign does 2 Kings 25:1 take place?  Who came against where and did what? How long did the siege take place (2 Kings 25:2)? How severe was it (2 Kings 25:3)? What happened in 2 Kings 25:4? Who had broken it to do what? Even though what was still the case? Who ran with them? But what happened (2 Kings 25:5)? What did they do with the king (2 Kings 25:6)? What was his sentence (2 Kings 25:7)? About how long later (cf. 2 Kings 25:3) does 2 Kings 25:8 occur? Who comes where? What does he do (2 Kings 25:9)? What is done to what in 2 Kings 25:10? And to whom in 2 Kings 25:11? Who is left (2 Kings 25:12)? What do 2 Kings 25:13-18 describe? Including what sorts of details? Whom else did Nebuzaradan remove in 2 Kings 25:19? Taking them where (2 Kings 25:20)? And doing what to them (2 Kings 25:21)? How does the end of verse 21 summarize all of this? Whom did he appoint to be what (2 Kings 25:22)? Who hear about it, and where do they go (2 Kings 25:23)? What does Gedaliah require of them (2 Kings 25:24)? Telling them to do what? But who come in 2 Kings 25:25, and do what to him? And to whom else? Then how many of whom went where (2 Kings 25:26)? Why? How many years later is 2 Kings 25:27 (cp. 2 Kings 24:15, 2 Kings 24:17)? Who had become king of Babylon? What did he do? How did he speak to him (2 Kings 25:28)? What position did he give him? With what benefits (2 Kings 25:29)? And what in addition (2 Kings 25:30)?

With what lessons does the Spirit conclude the history of the kingdom of Israel? 2 Kings 25 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us our need for Jesus and the hope that we have. 

The need that we have for Jesus to be our King, 2 Kings 25:1–7. It’s disappointing enough that Zedekiah is the last king and that his reign is about to end. But the way that it ends is pathetic, with the king leading the men of war to abandon the rest of the people of the city through a hole that they make in their own wall (2 Kings 25:4-5). 

He’s descended from David, but he’s the exact opposite of the Son of David for Whom the text has been teaching us to long throughout this narrative. The true King gave His life for ours. Whatever underservants or lesser magistrates we are under this world, let us rejoice that Christ is King over them all, and that He is ours. We long for the day when His kingdom has come in all its fullness.

The need we have for Jesus to be our City2 Kings 25:8-12. These verses summarize the destruction of the city, but we have a lasting city whose builder is God (cf. Hebrews 11:10, Hebrews 13:14). It’s not made up the way that the world would make it with the great ones of the land (2 Kings 25:9, cf. 2 Kings 24:16). Here, the Lord (via Babylon) leaves only the poorest of the poor (2 Kings 25:12). And it is of such that the Lord makes up the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26–31). Believers, the true Jerusalem, are precious by virtue of their union with Christ, by virtue of the fact that He Himself is their glory. This is that connection of Psalm 16:2 to Psalm 16:3. Earthly cities can be destroyed, but the one being built in Christ is infinitely and eternally glorious! Let us learn to esteem our brothers and sisters in this world above all earthly cities. 

The need we have for Jesus to be our Temple2 Kings 25:13-18. The extended section detailing the final dismantling of the temple includes many particular details. The author lingers over some of them to remind us how great is the loss of the worship of God—with His covenantal presence and the display of His glory and especially His grace. Israel did not appreciate what they had in Him, and went after what the rest of the world had. This was, after all, the providence by which God began to give them kings in the first place (cf. 1 Samuel 8:5, 1 Samuel 8:7b). 

Now, having treated His worship as a light thing, they have lost it altogether. Many a lampstand has been lost in this way, and the believer who treats worship as small and the world as big puts himself in the way of losing everything. Ultimately, however, even an unlimited amount of bronze cannot make for a house big enough to contain God—even heaven and the highest heavens cannot (cf. 1 Kings 8:27)! 

Christ Himself, and Christ alone, must be our temple (cf. John 2:21). And for us He is Priest, Sacrifice, Altar, and all. When man adds anything to the worship that is now in Christ, he despises not only God’s instruction and God’s way for us to know Him, but Christ Himself Who is God’s way for us to know Him.

The hope that we can have in the Word of the Lord. Whenever a warning from God comes true, the believer has a built-in consolation that is much greater than the pain of whatever has come: God’s Word is true! The summary statement at the end of 2 Kings 25:21 functions that way. “Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land.” What the Lord had warned in Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:64 was no idle threat. The king of Israel was in chains, but the Word of God was unchained (cf. Acts 28:20, Acts 28:30–31; 2 Timothy 2:9)!

God’s Word always proves true. He is perfectly faithful. Though dreadful news for the unbeliever, this means that every instance in Scripture coming true reminds him that all that God has said is certain. None who trust in Christ will be put to shame. All who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved. All things work together for good for those who love God, the called according to His purpose. He Who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. The faithfulness of God’s Word undergirds all of these. It is a great comfort for the believer that it is impossible for God to lie (cf. Titus 1:2)! So, when we are under painful chastening, we can rejoice that Hebrews 12:5–11 is true (cf. Psalm 119:67, Psalm 119:71, Psalm 119:75), and that helps us rejoice that every other word from God is true as well.

The hope that we can have in the covenantal providence of the Lord. Finally, the little addendum in 2 Kings 25:27-30. As soon as we read about Gedaliah’s lineage, we understand that the line of the King has gone elsewhere. The kingdom period is over. Ishmael son of Nethaniah obviously doesn’t like Gedaliah’s speech in 2 Kings 25:24, but it is too similar to the counterpart to the exiles in Jeremiah 29:4–9 for us to take Ishmael’s side. 

When men do not interact with the Lord first, they often forget to be humbled under His mighty hand when He raises up persecuting pagans over them. They indulge a rebellious spirit, while thinking themselves to be standing up for their rights, or even for God’s law or God’s people. They may even consider themselves afflicted martyrs, but before God they are proud rebels like Ishmael. They ought to have been humiliated before God and seen to their repentance in dust and ashes over violating the first table of the law. 

Gedaliah, however, serves as the backdrop for Jehoiachin. Twenty-six years after the kingdom period ended, the line of the King is under the caring eye of God. God can provide for His people in Babylon. Jehoiachin is more honored, more comfortable, and wealthier now than in the three months that he was king. However low providence brings us, let us remember that the providence that brought Christ into the world continues to attend to us for His sake. 

Even if we are in captivity for 37 years, or even if our suffering lasts through the end of this life, the God Who provided for Jehoiachin at the table of the king of Babylon will seat us forever at the table of the King of Kings. And in anticipation of that day, He brings the great and small of His people together at the table of the King week by week in this life (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:22). 

Though the 1–2 Kings story was over in 2 Kings 25:26, the Spirit closes the book with these four verses to confirm the hope that we have in God’s good providence to us for Christ’s sake. They declared, “Christ is still coming, and God is dealing with His people for His sake!”

What is your primary nationality? What secondary rulers are over you, under the King of kings? When will that rule that is over you in the world be what it should be? How do you know that you value Jesus Himself as the place, way, and leader of public worship? How do you show it? How has the Lord chastened you in your life? In addition to knowing that it came out of love, what further hope does that give you? When you have a horrible government set over you, in Whose providence has that come? Whose interests are driving that providence?

Sample prayer: Lord, Your Word is faithful and true. Your Word is true in describing our sins. Your Word is faithful in threatening the consequences. We humble ourselves before You, confessing that we sin because we are sinners. Like Judah, we have treated Your worship with contempt and would deserve to have it taken from us. We have often chafed against Your chastening, rather than humbling ourselves under Your mighty hand and waiting upon Your mercy. Forgive us, O Lord, for the sake of Christ, and do with us according to Your love and promises in Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “Hear, O Hear Us” or TPH80B “Great Shepherd Who Leadest Thy People”

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