2 Kings 25:27-30
The last time we talked about this subject, we were discussing Israel’s trek through the desert for 40 years. Why were they out there for so long? I know the worn-out joke about Moses not asking for directions, but it wasn’t because they got lost. It was because they royally screwed up! After seeing so many incredible miracles, both in Egypt and in the desert, they refused one last time to trust the Lord, and they paid the price. They were forbidden to enter the Promised Land, and had to go back into the desert to eventually die there. However, while they were in exile, the Lord graciously provided for their food, water, and shelter. Their clothes didn’t wear out and their feet didn’t swell.
Today’s reading recorded a similar situation. Judah failed the Lord for the last time, and he had finally had enough. He used Babylon to thoroughly discipline the remaining Israelites who continually indulged in idolatry and sexual immorality. King Nebuchadnezzar swooped in, conquered them, and then kidnapped most of the survivors into exile to other parts of the Empire.
But what happened after this? As the reading shows, the Lord was still being merciful to them. King Jehoiachin, their main representative, was treated far better than would be expected. In fact, anything short of a brutal death would be considered pretty lenient. Even after they'd been conquered, the people of Judah had rebelled against the Babylonians several times, and they were fortunate (or blessed) that the latter hadn't simply destroyed everything and killed everyone.
The reason I bring this up is because it is so illustrative of how the Lord treats me. I fall flat on my face, and he forgives me again. When he finally disciplines me, it's not to give me what I deserve but what I need. And even when he's bringing unpleasant things into my life, he's still providing for me and protecting me from the worst of it.
The Puritans called God’s judgment his “strange” work. They didn’t mean this in the sense of “weird” but in the sense of “very unusual.” This means that most of the time throughout our lives we experience his grace and mercy. Trust me, if you aren’t screaming in the Lake of Fire, you haven’t gotten what you deserve from him. It’s only when he displays a little bit of his justice that many of us think about him at all. And then it’s only to scream at him about the “injustice” of it all.
His heart is to forgive and restore, not destroy or judge. He isn’t willing that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance. He desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. And in my life, as a saved and redeemed child of God, he's constantly showing his love, grace, and mercy to me all day every day.
Lord Jesus, you're so good to me. I want to show you my gratitude for this in presenting myself as a living sacrifice. Please help me to stay on that altar.
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