2 Kings 25, Ephesians 3
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. – Ephesians 3:6 ESV
Things could not have looked bleaker. The destiny of Israel could not have appeared any darker. The Babylonian army had laid siege to the city of Jerusalem for months, resulting in a famine inside its wall. Eventually, the city fell and the temple was ransacked, burned and destroyed. The priests were killed and the people were taken captive to Babylon. Zedekiah, the king, was captured and forced to watch as his sons were executed before his eyes. Then he had his own eyes gouged out. The once glorious city of Jerusalem lie in ruins and the people of Israel were prisoners in a foreign land. And amazingly, this was all part of God's plan. He had predicted that all of this would happen. “Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it; Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye. And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the Lord. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed” (Jeremiah 32:3-5 ESV). Israel was facing the consequences for its disobedience and unfaithfulness. God had warned them that disobedience would bring curses. He had been very specific. But God would not fully abandon His people. As bad as things appeared, God had not fully forsaken them. King Jehoiachin, who had surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar years earlier, and had been living in exile in Babylon for 37 years, would find himself freed by Evil-merodach, Nebuchadnezzar's son and successor to the throne. God was keeping the line of David intact. He was keeping His promise to David. “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16 ESV). David was destined to have a descendant who would once again sit on his throne in Jerusalem. God had ordained it and He would one day fulfill it.
What does this passage reveal about God?
In the midst of all the darkness surrounding the people of Israel, there exists a feint glimmer of hope. Yes, the temple had been destroyed and the city burned to the ground. The once formidable walls of Jerusalem were shattered and lie in ruins. But God was still there. He had not disappeared from the scene. He was allowing His people to learn a painful, yet invaluable lesson. But He would be with them all along the way, sending His prophets to minister to them even while they lived in exile. He would continue to tolerate their disobedience and unfaithfulness all during their seven decades of imprisonment in Babylon. But He had promised to return them to the land and He would fulfill that promise. But God's ultimate plan was not just to restore them to the land, but to restore all mankind to a right relationship with Himself. The people of Israel had shown that, even though they had been handpicked by God, they were incapable of living in obedience to His commands or of loving Him faithfully and exclusively. God used a pagan, Gentile nation to punish His people. And the day was coming when He would include pagan, Gentile people into His family. This is one of the great mysteries of the Bible – the mystery of Christ. God would use a descendant of David to provide reconciliation for not only the Jews, but for all mankind. Paul writes, “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6 ESV). This mystery “was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5 ESV). Jehoiachin didn't know about this plan. Nebuchadnezzar wasn't aware of it. Zedekiah (excuse the pun) was blind to it. Even David himself was kept in the dark regarding it. The day was coming when God allow Paul to “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (Ephesians 3:8-9 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about man?
Man can't maintain a right relationship with God. Living up to God's holy, righteous standards has always been impossible for any man to accomplish – except one. Only Jesus was capable of living a perfectly obedient life, in keeping with God's laws and in submission to His will. He lived a sinless life, which made Him the perfect sacrifice for the sins of man. He was able to offer Himself as our sinless, blameless substitute, dying the death we deserved in our place and satisfying the just demands of a holy God. The books of 1 and 2 Kings reveal just how sinful man can be. The history of the Israelites reveals just how disobedient and unfaithful even the people of God can be. Sin is inevitable and unavoidable for mankind. We can't help it. We can't keep from doing it. But God had a solution to our problem. He had a plan that would provide restoration and reconciliation when all our efforts produced nothing more than rebellion and rejection. The fall of Jerusalem was not the end. The exile of the people of God was not the final chapter in their story. God would eventually restore them to their own land. But it would not be until "the fulness of time" that He would send His Son to provide a once-and-for-all solution for the sin problem of mankind. Through the sacrificial death of His own Son, God would join together Jew and Gentile, making them “fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6 ESV). “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
The Bible is the story of God's redemption of mankind. It is not a collection of isolated stories, but a clear and concise compilation of God's ongoing relationship with His creation. It is a unified picture of His unfailing love for mankind and His divine plan to restore what sin had attempted to destroy. As bleak as Israel's exile appears, it is just a chapter in a much larger story of God's redemption and reconciliation of mankind. Today, we get to see firsthand the manifold, multifaceted wisdom of God revealed through the multi-ethnic, multicultural and multifaceted makeup of the body of Christ. Jews, Gentiles, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, slave, free, white collar, blue collar – every imaginable combination of people – revealing “the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11 ESV). I am reminded that God has always been working His plan. But I am also reminded that God has not yet completed that plan. There is more yet to come, and I can trust Him to finish what He has begun. He will one day send His Son again to bring His great and glorious plan to its final conclusion, bringing an end to sin and death, and reconciling and restoring His creation once and for all.
Father, thank You for Your mysterious, unstoppable, perfect plan. Thank You for sending Your Son to do what none of us could have done on our own. You have provided a solution for sin and a means by which we might have a right relationship with You, once and for all. Amen