Tuesday, January 17, 2012

broken walls & a faithful God

And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
2 Kings 25:21

An era ends and a new experience begins for the Jewish people. With the second siege of Jerusalem the Babylonian army destroys Judah. The little bit of military strength is wiped out. The defenses of Jerusalem are demolished. The remaining treasures in the temple are ransacked. The temple and all major buildings are burned. The city is left in complete ruin.

The people of Judah are carted off in captive exile to the capital of the empire, the city of Babylon. It is there that the next stage of defining history will face the Jews. They will serve the king of Babylon and remember the Law while in exile. It is during this 70 year time frame that their lives will long for the true blessings of the covenant again. It is the point where all their identity will be bound up in their worship of God. They will have nothing else. God will be their only hope and sustainer.

That the Jews kept any kind of identity during this experience is testament to the saving power of God. Many exiled nations did not. We know that ten of the twelve tribes of Israel that were exiled into Assyria just wound up being absorbed into pagan nations. They disappeared... fading into history. Yet God had a greater work still to do in the world. The Jews of Judah and the tribe of Levi both needed preservation. The kingly line of David would give rise to the Messiah. And so 2 Kings ends with an assurance that Jehoichin's family was provided for out of the royal rations of the Babylonians. He is even mentioned in Chaldean court records. God is working, even in the worst moments of the Jewish nation. He will preserve His people and His covenant with Israel. A remnant will remain that God can renew and revive.

Watching this unfold in the biblical text this way puts the focus on God's glory. He is doing the work. The historical facts are clear. And the fact that there are Jews yet today testifies to God's faithfulness. More than one captivity has befallen them over the centuries, and yet God remains faithful to His sustaining promises! God can be trusted when His Word compels us to believe Him.

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