Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Listening For The Whispers

And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of 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 king's table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king according to his daily need, until the day of his death as long as he lived.
Jeremiah 52:31-34
This morning I finished the book of Jeremiah. These are the last verses of the last chapter. An interesting way to end the book, especially considering how the last couple of chapters (long ones at that) spoke of the judgment that God intended to bring on Babylon and other nations. But before God brings this exceedingly terrible judgment on Babylon (chapter 51), He plans to use them to bring judgment upon the southern kingdom of Judah. Babylon will be His tool to bring about His judgment on His people but then He will bring a full end to Babylon in judging them. But these last few verses of Jeremiah provide us with foreshadowing that shows us the difference between Babylon and Judah. While God plans to bring a full end to Babylon in the judgment He brings on them, He does not plan to bring a full end to the people of Israel in the judgment He brings on them. The mercy shown to King Jehoiachin in these verses points us to the mercy God shows to His covenant people Israel.

King Jehoiachin was one of the many evil kings to reign in Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:9, 2 Chronicles 36:9). This would seem to be one of the reasons that the Lord allows him to be carried off in exile to Babylon along with the rest of the Israelites (2 Chronicles 36:10).

And then all of a sudden here at the end of Jeremiah (as well as the end of 2 Kings) we're told that Jehoiachin receives pardon. He is released from imprisonment. But not only that. He is exalted above the other kings who are in Babylon. He's given royal treatment. The king speaks kindly to him. The king allows him to dine at the king's table. The king gives him daily allowance for whatever he needs. Every day until the day he drops. Consider this. It makes no sense. Why?

Perhaps one reason is to point us to the outrage of the gospel. And the Savior who is the reason for it.

In the case of Jehoiachin, we aren't told what happens to cause the king to show him favor but the same isn't true of those of us in Christ who, like Jehoiachin, are shown outrageous grace.

Speaking to His disicples, Jesus tells them plainly that they are evil (Luke 11:13). Evil means evil. I'm no better than Jehoiachin or any of the other Israelites who were sent into exile in Babylon. My idolatry simply looks different and isn't so outwardly manifest. Similarly to Jehoiachin, I am under imprisonment. I am imprisoned under the law that I cannot keep, sin, Satan, and the curse of death (Galatians 3:22, 23).

But then something happened to change that.

And just like Jehoiachin, my fortunes are instantaneously changed. Not only am I lifted from my prison cell but I'm granted royal treatment. I put off my prison garments and am now clothed with the righteousness of Another (Isaiah 61:10). The King speaks kindly to me through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) as often as I will listen. I am now seated in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion (Ephesians 2:6, 1:20,21). I have more than my daily bread to eat every day and await the great feast that this King will one day prepare for His people (Isaiah 25:6). I have more than my daily allowance as the King now provides me with more than I could ever need (Philippians 4:19) until the day I drop (and even more then).

What happened to make this possible?
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45
Jesus gave His life as a ransom to purchase me from the prison I was in so that I could receive pardon and be made an heir of the King (Galatians 4:7). Do you hear the whispers of Jesus in these last few verses of Jeremiah? King Jehoiachin represents the tree of God's covenant people Israel that Gentiles like me have been grafted into (Romans 11:17-19).

So what ultimately is the difference between the Babylonians and the Israelites? Jesus pays a ransom for one and not for the other. God pours the fullness of His judgment out on Jesus on the cross so that He could give the true Israelites royal treatment instead of making a full end of us like He does to Babylon. This is the reason behind all outrageous grace.

I love hearing these whispers of the Savior. They are there all over the Old Testament. Are you listening for them?
And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
John 1:16

1 comment:

Mel said...

How remarkably, poignantly beautiful. I'm hungry to spend more time in the Word. There are no words to describe the feeling of being fully alive when God, the Author of the Book, opens the eyes of our hearts to understand His heart as it is revealed in its pages.