Finished up 2Kings this morning. Kind of sad when you pause and reflect how what had started out so well with the promises of God, ended up so bleakly with the prisons of Assyria and Babylon. Talk about your roller coaster ride. From the thrill of deliverance from Egyptian bondage, to the desert wanderings of those who refused to enter the promised land. From the momentum established by Joshua’s generation who took the land, to the utter failure of the next generation who, while enjoying the land, rejected the ways of the land Giver and did what was right in their own eyes. Neither the judges raised up by God, nor the king demanded by the people, was enough to deliver a people whose hearts were set on pursuing gods other than their God.
The heights of David’s determination to set apart a city for God, so that he might build a house where God’s presence could be found, surpassed only by God’s promise to build a house and a line for David which would last for eternity, eventually results in a city destroyed and a descendant of David in a foreign prison. The crescendo of Solomon’s dedication of the temple, evidenced by the descending glory of God upon it, is eclipsed by the glory departing, the temple razed, and it’s treasure pillaged.
A once unified kingdom, divided. The northern kingdom hell-bent, literally, to replace their God with idols of gold. The southern kingdom determined to choke out their love for the one true God with their lust for the gods, which are no gods, of other nations. And so God writes His people a certificate of divorce, giving them up to the bondage of the nations of the gods they desired.
But, as is so often the case, as you read the final four verses of 2Kings you see a ray of sunlight . . . a glimmer of hope . . . an indication that the story is not yet done. In these verses you are hit by royal grace.
And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, . . . Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the kings table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived. (2Kings 25:27-30 ESV)
Jehoiachin was a kid king — only eighteen when he took the throne. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, just as he had seen modeled in those before him. But what he did do right was listen to the voice of the prophets and submitted himself to God’s instrument of judgment upon the wayward southern kingdom. He gave himself up to the king of Babylon (2Kings 24:8-12). And though he remained in a Babylonian prison for 36 years, he remained as the hope for the promised line of David. Not because of who he was, or what he had done, but because of royal grace.
Jehoiachin is “graciously freed” . . . a much better translation than others that say simply, he was “released” from prison. Literally, “his head was lifted up” as he was released from his house of restraint. He was given a seat above other seats. His prison garments were put off and he was given new garments to wear. All the days of his life he ate at the king’s table. And every day his needs were met through a “regular allowance” from the kings storehouses of riches.
That’s royal grace. Sound familiar?
I once was imprisoned through my desire for the things of this world and the gods it manufactures. But the King of heaven and earth, through a sovereign act of grace, determined to free me. Released from the bondage of sin, I was not just set free, but was given a seat — raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places “in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7). My prison garments put off, His robe of righteousness put on. Every day of my life I’m welcomed to abide with Him at His table. Each day an allowance of all sufficient grace is liberally apportioned to me. Every day being a reminder of His royal grace.
O’ that the King of glory would look with such favor upon those in a prison of their own making as they seek other gods. What grace! What deliverance! What a Savior!
To Him be all glory.