Trust and Hope
As we look at the last chapter of the book of 2 Kings, we are taught that God does not leave His people without hope. He continues to bring renewal and repentance, even in places that are unlikely. In spite of everything God had done for them, Israel ended up in exile in Babylon because of their trespasses against Him. They had trusted other things more than God, so God dismantled their lives and sent them into exile. The Temple that took seven years to build was gone; the place of reconciliation no longer there, making physical reconciliation with God impossible. The Palace that took fourteen years to build was gone along with the kingship. Who would lead the Israelites now? Where would the promised Davidic King, the Messiah, come from?
The Babylonians dictated the Israelites’ every move now, all because they chose their own way over and against God’s. They only had themselves to blame. The road could have been one full of blessing and hope, just as God had promised. Choices have consequences. Some bring blessings and some bring grief and devastation. God knows the past, present, and future already, but He designed us with the freedom of choice. He wants us to choose Him over all else. Israel chose “all else” and thus suffered long-term and devastating grief. But God told Israel to make do with their circumstances: “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.” (2 Kings 25:24).
Can we move forward out of the consequences of our bad choices? What happens when everything falls apart in our lives and the consequences are so great that we lose hope? That is where the last event in 2 Kings comes to the foreground. The book does not end in hopelessness but with hope – the hope in God’s continued forgiveness. The sin of the kings and nations are throughout the books of 1 and 2 Kings and God punished them for it. However, even while He was punishing them, He was still finding ways to be gracious and merciful. King Hezekiah is the perfect example. God told Hezekiah he was going to die because he had acted in an ungodly way. Hezekiah repented and God added fifteen years to his life.
God preserved His spiritual relationship with His exiled people. The fact that the Israelites were in Babylon was a real problem. Being there was a constant reminder of the sin of the people because they were no longer in the Promised Land. However, even without the land, they were still God’s people. They could trust that He would take them back to the land as He had done before. The temple laid in ruins, but all the materials to build it again were also in Babylon. Everything they needed to rebuild was preserved by God and the spiritual relationship was still alive.
God preserved the kingly line as well. The line of King David needed to be preserved to fulfill the Messianic prophecy. Jesus is that promised King, the promised Messiah. “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:17). Unlike all the kings before Him, Jesus never failed and never sinned. And even more, He came to bring forgiveness for all our sins. You can see it in the way Jesus mixed with the tax-collectors and sinners, those who were considered to be far from God. He wanted to show His love, despite their backgrounds. Through His teachings and miracles, Jesus showed us that even the spiritually dead can be made alive again. It should remind us that when we stumble, He is still willing to catch us. That is true hope.
Salvation comes through the King who gave up His life for us; “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29). When we go through the despair and grief that comes as a result of sin, we can still have hope in Jesus. Our place in the Kingdom of God is not defined by a series of rules and laws, nor do we lose our place because we have messed up. Our place in the Kingdom of God is defined by our relationship with the King of Kings, Jesus. That’s the only place where true hope is found. Everything else will fail. FEAR NOT! Remember you are defined by your trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.