DAY BY DAY, THE KING GAVE… Just when you feel like you've hit rock bottom, imprisoned by your own poor choices, the King can still part the sky, set you free and treat you like royalty for the rest of your days. Today’s Bible lesson recounts just such an event.
Around 2600 years ago, a young teen named Jehoiachin became King of Judah. He was the 19th monarch from the lineage of King David, so he definitely came from a great gene pool. His grandfather was King Josiah, who is remembered for his unswerving loyalty to God Almighty. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father…” 2 Kings 22:2.
However, Jehoiachin’s father, King Jehoiakim, had a very different life story. “And he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his fathers had done”. 2 Kings 23:37.
“During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he turned against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled. The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive. As for the other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Jehoiakim rested with his ancestors. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.” 2 Kings 24:1-6
So, around 598/597BC, Jehoiachin, also known as Jeconiah, was made King of Judah. He was the last direct heir to the crown. His reign is recorded in 2 Kings 24:8-16: “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done. At that time the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem and laid siege to it, and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the city while his officers were besieging it. Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. As the Lord had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed the treasures from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace, and cut up the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the Lord. He carried all Jerusalem into exile: all the officers and fighting men, and all the skilled workers and artisans—a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother, his wives, his officials and the prominent people of the land. The king of Babylon also deported to Babylon the entire force of seven thousand fighting men, strong and fit for war, and a thousand skilled workers and artisans.”
It would appear the story of Jehoiachin was very short, and not-so-sweet. But the eternal punch line would come in the later years of his life.
“In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. He did this on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.” 2 Kings 25:27-30.
This is the true story of a man who came from the lineage of the great King David, and as such was destined by God to rule His chosen people. Yet this same man, even when he was in his teens, rebelled against the Almighty and "did evil in the eyes of the Lord just as his father had done".
What happened probably doesn't surprise us Christians. But remember now that King Jehoiachin was from the Tribe of Judah, and therefore was a very religious man. Most certainly, he was raised on the Holy Scriptures, and taught the commandments of the Lord, and likely memorized large chunks of the Bible. And because the nation worshipped God on a regular weekly basis, as well as during the many specially appointed Feasts of the Lord, he went to synagogue (church) a whole lot more often than we could ever even imagine doing ourselves.
It certainly does appear that being the leader of a religious nation and worshipping God a lot, as well as reading and memorizing the Bible doesn't guarantee that the Good Lord won't see us as evil in His eyes.
It also seems that when we choose to go our own way, we shouldn't expect anything from God except to reap what we sow. Yet, after 37 years of imprisonment at the hand of his enemies, Jehoiachin was suddenly offered a pardon by the Babylonian King. Since we aren't given any further explanation, it appears it all happened because of the mercy and grace of that reigning King.
The details of the King's benevolence are notable, too. "He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon."
We can see that the King had deep feelings for Jehoiachin. And despite Jehoiachin's status as a prisoner and his nationality, the King offered him a seat higher than any other king in Babylon. So, at around 61 years of age, having spent 37 years of it in a prison of his own making, Jehoiachin began a brand-new life in a place and manner he would never have chosen for himself. And the reigning KING made it ALL happen!
"So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived". 2 Kings 25:29-30
God's timing is always perfect. According to the Hebrew calendar, which was established by God Himself for His people, the 27th day of His 12th month, the anniversary date of the King's pardon, is March 1 on our 2022 calendar. When we least expect it, the King of the Universe can turn our lives around, and it will have absolutely nothing to do with our timing or ability to plan it out and redeem ourselves. It will have everything to do with the choice of King Jesus, and the love and mercy He extends to us.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8.
DAY BY DAY, THE KING GAVE...