Summary: God gives one more chance to his fickle children, one more chance to return to him, one more chance to avert destruction, one more chance to know him and be healed.
Aren’t you glad that God is the God of second chances? This week I have been sick with a nasty bug, which has left me at times with a migraine that keeps me from being able to read. This is one way God slows me down and forces me to meditate. I spent more time than usual laying around thinking about mistakes I have made in my past. No, I wasn’t feeling guilty or beating myself up – these are sins that God has delivered me from, and he has forgiven me fully and thoroughly. But sins always have consequences, even when God forgives you of those sins. And I spent a lot of time thinking about the consequences of some of my sins, and how they could have been so much worse than they were, if it weren’t for God’s intervention. Our text this morning is about a time when God gave ONE MORE CHANCE to his people.
The northern kingdoms, those ten tribes of Israel, had all been carried away and pretty much destroyed by Assyria. Now Babylon was the big kid on the block, the only real superpower, and little Judah was facing the same fate. It was December, 604 BC, and it was cold outside. The harvest had already come in, and no one really planned on their being a siege of the city, so there was a fair amount of anxiety in the air. Godly King Josiah had been killed in battle only four or five years earlier, and his son Jehoiakim was King. The Bible summarizes his whole life with the words, “he did what was evil in the site of the Lord…” (II Kings 23:37)
Now Babylon might have been the big kid on the block, but Judah belonged to Egypt. King Jehoiakim was a puppet king, the younger son of Josiah, and he placed on the throne by the King of Egypt, the same man who killed his daddy. Now things haven’t changed a whole lot through the years. When Judah became the vassal, or servant, of Egypt, they had to submit to Egypt in a lot of ways. They had to pay taxes, they had to send soldiers to help Egypt fight, but most of all they had to honor Egypt’s gods. So when we read that verse that says King Jehoiakim did evil in the site of the LORD, we need to remember that he was responding to the same pressures you face in school, or in work, or among unbelieving friends. That is, he had to honor and worship their gods, live like they lived, or he would get in a lot of trouble. This is what Jesus means when he says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) You WILL have tribulation! The only question is, do you have the faith to believe that Jesus has overcome the world, and therefore it is safe to trust in him when no one else around you does? Jehoiakim did not. That means when others around you are drinking, or doing drugs, or having sex outside of marriage, and you feel that pressure to conform – Jesus says don’t worry, I have overcome the world. You can trust me. It will cost you, but you can trust me. Jehoiakim failed here, he succumbed to the pressure from an unbelieving nation – Egypt, and the whole summary of his life fits just eleven words, “he did what was evil in the site of the Lord…”