Today we conclude our study of the kings.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Prophets And Kings, Day 132. Conclusion
Prophets And Kings
INTRODUCTION BY BELINDA
Today we conclude our study of the kings.
Today we conclude our study of the kings.
JEREMIAH 43:1-3, 2 KINGS 25:27-30
Yesterday we learned that the remnant of Judah who came to Jeremiah already had their minds made up to cross over into Egypt. On authority of the Lord, Jeremiah promised them safety if they remained in Judah, but only trouble if they went to Egypt. "When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God---everything the Lord had sent him to tell them---Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, 'You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, 'You must not go to Egypt to settle there.' But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.'" (Jeremiah 43:1-3) Baruch is Jeremiah's scribe and administrative assistant, the man who wrote down the account of Jeremiah's life and all his prophecies, the man who kept charge of the deed to Jeremiah's land, and the man who wrote the scroll of prophecies which King Jehoiakim burned. He remains a faithful friend to Jeremiah all his life, sticking with him through persecutions and imprisonments, not deserting him when defeat by Babylon seemed imminent, and not deserting him now when the people accuse Jeremiah of lying to them.
According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, Baruch was a man of noble birth, of the tribe of Judah, highly intelligent and educated. He could have risen high in Judean society but instead he chose to do something the Apostle Paul would, centuries later, urge all Christians to do: be identified with the Lord and bear His disgrace. "The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore." (Hebrews 13:11-13) By placing himself firmly on the Lord's side, Baruch was guaranteed persecution and hardship during the times he lived in.
We all will face some type of persecution by identifying ourselves with Christ, by going to Him outside the camp, by bearing the disgrace He bore. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:12) In some parts of the world, claiming the name of Christ carries the threat of a death sentence. In other places, like the United States Of America, claiming the name of Christ is bringing ridicule upon His people. We are experiencing the persecution of being counted ignorant, out of touch, old-fashioned, irrelevant, and a blight on society. But what can we expect in a society that keeps walking farther and farther away from the Lord? What can we expect in a world that says, "We don't need God! His time is past. He belongs back in the Dark Ages before science and the theory of evolution prevailed. Only fools think there's a fairy in the sky to hear their prayers!"
Baruch was willing to bear this persecution along with his friend and spiritual adviser Jeremiah even when the people accuse him of wickedly influencing the prophet. Because he refuses to desert his friend, he is taken prisoner with him. The army officers of the remnant of Judah seize the men and force them into Egypt with them. After their arrival in Tahpanes, Jeremiah continues prophesying to the people. They fall into even more idolatry in Egypt and the prophet speaks out against this. He prophesies disaster upon the people who disobeyed the Lord by seeking peace in a wicked land. They fled Judah to escape Babylon but they would have been safe from Babylon there. But Babylon will attack them in the land of sin, in Egypt, and the very things they feared will come upon them.
Jeremiah continued to speak in the name of the Lord for the rest of his life and although his death is not recorded in the Scriptures, he and Baruch both likely died in Egypt and were buried there. What a wonderful example these men are in the faith! They didn't desert the remnant of Judah although I'm sure they would have had opportunities to return to their own land. Instead Jeremiah kept prophesying and Baruch kept writing his words down. They stuck with it til the end, fighting the good fight, running a good race, and keeping the faith. Nothing and no one was able to persuade them to stop speaking in the name of the Lord.
These men's lives remind me of this quotation from the Apostle Paul, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39) We may not know the resting place of Jeremiah and Baruch in Egypt but we know the resting place of their eternal souls. They are with the Lord they served and honored.
Now we turn back to the last remaining passage from the book of 2nd kings. We recall that King Nebuchadnezzar took King Jehoiachin and his family captive to Babylon and then set King Zedekiah on the throne. We know Zedekiah rebelled and his sons were killed before he was blinded and taken to Babylon where he lived the rest of his days. But here at the end of the study of the kings, the author needs to let us know the fate of Jehoiachin. "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. 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. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived." (2 Kings 25:27-30) Nebuchadnezzar's successor sets him free. There's something in Jehoiachin he admires, more than he admires any king of any other nation who is captive in Babylon. Some scholars believe Jehoiachin repented in Babylon, becoming a wise and godly man, but we simply don't know what it was about him that gained him the favor of the king. I believe it was divine intervention, with God giving Jehoiachin grace in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar's successor. It was necessary for him to be released so he could father children. This is why the final paragraph was added to 2nd Kings even though it was thirty-seven years in the future. This man Jehoiachin and his royal lineage is of utmost importance.
Jehoiachin was was fifty-five years old when Awel-Marduk set him free. Jehoiachin (called Jeconiah in some books of Scripture) fathered Shealtiel in Babylon. Shealtiel is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ both in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. These genealogies prove the Lord Jesus Christ holds the legal title to the throne. There are some differences in the two genealogies after Shealtiel and many scholars believe the reason for this is that one is tracing Joseph's lineage down from Shealtiel and the other is tracing Mary's. Although Joseph was Jesus' step-father, an adopted child had all the legal rights of a natural child when it came to succession, so if Joseph had ever sat on the throne he could have made Jesus his heir if he wanted to. Lest anyone feel that Jesus doesn't have the right to sit on the throne because he's not a natural child of Joseph, the Bible also shows us that Jesus is of the royal line through His natural mother Mary. No man has sat on the throne of Judah since the Babylonian captivity but someday our King will come, the One who legally and spiritually has the right to rule the world, and He will sit on David's throne forever.
When Christ comes to rule the earth in holiness and righteousness, we will never again have an election year. We will never complain about our leadership. There will never be another injustice, another cruelty, or another crime. We will never turn on the morning news to find out we've been struck by terrorists, or hear that yet one more parent abused their child, or that anyone in the world has been mistreated or oppressed. Every day we will praise our Lord's name, the Lord who gave us victory over sin and death and hell, the Lord who will reign over us in love forever. The prophet Isaiah, whose book we will study next, looked down through the centuries and saw Christ seated on the throne of David, and he said in Isaiah 25:8-9, "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove His people's disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In that day they will say: 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation."