Summary: When we look at the last chapter of the book of 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 most unlikely.
“In The End There Is Hope”
For some months now we have been making our way through the book of Kings and we have learnt so much.
Today we get to the end of the book.
So much happen is happening at the end of the book that it will help to have a bit of a chart with some dates and times.
Key dates and verses
Jehoiachin becomes king late 598BC – early 597BC. (2 Kings 24:8-17)
Jehoiachin is taken into exile to Babylon (read 2 Kings 24:15-17)
Mattaniah becomes Zedekiah … he rebels against Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar starts his campaign (read 2 Kings 25:1-3)
This is January 589BC.
The King knows all is lost so he makes a run for it … he isn’t very successful.
(read 2 Kings 4-7)
The people hold out against the siege for almost 2½ years. But the city falls (Read 2 Kings 25:8)
This is August 587BC.
Why mention the dates?
It makes it real.
EG … when did you get married?
Sometime … that doesn’t really have an impact.
20th January 1990 … has a much greater impact.
It was summer.
You have nearly been married 24 years!!
These dates are reminder of specific history, specific events, and they raise up specific emotions.
Let’s read about some of those emotions.
YHWH is dismantling all of his promises
Temple (priesthood) … took 7 years to build – gone. But the bigger issue is that the place of reconciliation is no longer present. Physically there is no way to seek reconciliation with God.
Palace (kingship) … took 14 years to build – gone. But the bigger issue is the promised kingship. Who will lead? Where will the true Davidic king come from?
All important buildings … records, library, government – gone. Protective Wall – gone. Everyone except the poorest people – gone.
They no longer have a land or a city or anywhere to go.
The people have chosen
read Deuteronomy 30:15-18
God gave them everything, they only have themselves to blame.
It could have been so different.
The road could have been one full of blessing and hope.
Talk freely about the fact that God honours our choices.
God’s sovereignty does not mean we are on this rigid path.
God knows the future … He knows a 1000 futures … but we are given choice.
The choices we make do have consequences.
Some are short-term and some are long-term.
They can bring grief.
Read 2 Kings 25:13-17
It is just being devastated
– expand on the grief as the heart of the city, the heart of their relationship with God is dismantled.
There is this emotional impression that is being left, like a cyclone that has devastated everything.
Expand – and talk about the cyclone as a physical destruction.
The consequences of our choices can feel like that
A cyclone in our lives.
The grief that is left.
The sense of hopelessness.
Can we move forward?
What happens when everything just falls apart in our lives?
What if the consequences are so great that we just loss hope?
That is where the very last date and event in Kings comes to the foreground.
This is the 12th of March 560BC
The book does not end in hopelessness. It ends with hope. In fact the whole book of Kings has been a continual reminder of hope.
God’s continued forgiveness
Right through Kings we kept reading about the sin of the kings and the sin of the nations.
And God did bring about punishment whether the one involved was a King, a Prophet or an ordinary citizen. But even when He was punishing the people God was still constantly finding ways to be gracious.
One example of this was Hezekiah. God had told Hezekiah that he was going to die because he had acted in an ungodly way. Hezekiah repented and God added 15 years to his life. Another example is Ahab. Despite all the evil of Ahab God in the end delayed the punishment until the next generation of people had come.
God was always being gracious. But God was also helping the people move forward by continuing to raise up faithful kings. The evil rule of Ahab was soon followed by the rule of Jehu – and a dynasty that lasted 100 years. Manasseh, who lead Judah to do “more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites” is soon followed by Josiah who reverses every sin of Manasseh. God is in the business of bringing about restoration and hope. And now, at the end of the book, we find a small message of forgiveness and hope still being available.
God preserves His spiritual relationship with the people