Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 1 2019 - 2 Kings 24:18-25:26 – The fall of Jerusalem

Faithful Josiah was succeeded by his son, Jehoahaz who seems to have been intent on reversing the reforms of his father. His kingship was cut short by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt who took him off in captivity in chains. Neco appointed Jehoiakim, another of Josiah's sons, as king over Judah, but he seems to have been as bad as his brother in leading the people back into idolatry. Jehoiakim was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin. During his reign Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonians. Eventually, Jehoiachin surrendered to the king of Babylon and was taken captive. The treasures of the temple were plundered and Jehoiachin's uncle, Zedekiah, was appointed as puppet king by the Babylonians.

This is where we pick up the story in today's reading. Zedekiah proves as faithless as his nephew, "He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done" (2 Kings 24:19). So the Lord determined to pour out his judgment on Jerusalem and its evil kings. Here is how it came about.

After eleven years, Zedekiah rebelled against the rule of Babylon. 2 Kings 25 tells of how the army of Babylon came and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple and captured Zedekiah. His sons are put to death in front of him, the last thing he will ever see, for his eyes are then gouged out. The inhabitants of Jerusalem are then led away into captivity in Babylon.

A kingdom has been destroyed because of the faithlessness and wickedness of its kings.

God's purpose is not to destroy his people but to stir them up to turn back to him and seek his salvation. One such prayer is heard in Psalm 74:

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
   Why does your anger smoulder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember the nation you purchased long ago,
   the people of your inheritance, whom you redeemed –
   Mount Zion, where you dwelt.
Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins,
   all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary...

Remember how the enemy has mocked you, LORD,
   how foolish people have reviled your name.
Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
   do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
Have regard for your covenant,
   because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land.
Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace;
   may the poor and needy praise your name.
Rise up, O God, and defend your cause;
   remember how fools mock you all day long.
Do not ignore the clamour of your adversaries,
   the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually. (vv. 1-3, 18-23)

Ultimately, this cry for God to act in salvation is answered in the Lord Jesus. He is the Christ, the faithful son Of David, the one who brings Israel's captivity and exile to an end. It is because of his faithfulness to God's calling that he shall reign over a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.

Gracious Father, you have given your Son for us that we might never be banished from your presence. Fill us with joy as we live under the reign of our Saviour-king, Jesus Christ. Keep us faithful in the work of his kingdom.

Aug 1 2020 - Mark 10:32-52 – Have mercy on me

Jesus and his disciples are leaving Jericho on their way to Jerusalem. A large crowd is accompanying them for they know where Jesus is going and want to see what he will do when he arrives in the city of the Great King.

As they leave Jericho they pass by a blind man who is sitting beside the road, begging. Bartimaeus hears the crowds and asks what's going on. When he learns that Jesus is passing he calls out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:47). The crowd tell him to be quiet. They do not want Jesus to be distracted from his journey to Jerusalem. But Bartimaeus will not be silenced; he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" (10:48). At last Jesus heard him and called Bartimaeus over to him. His eagerness in calling out is now matched by eagerness of action, “Throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus” (10:50). Nor is his pleading finished for he begs Jesus, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (10:51). Jesus immediately healed him from his blindness.

The point that struck me this morning was the persistence of Bartimaeus. He would not be silenced, not even by a crowd shouting at him to shut up. Bartimaeus recognised something of who Jesus is for he addresses him as "Son of David." He must have heard something of the things Jesus had been doing and has reasoned that this must be the Messiah. The one thing of importance to him was that Jesus should have mercy on him. He would not stop his shouting until Jesus heard and responded – or until the crowd had entirely passed by and all hope was lost.

We need to have the same single-minded focus. We continually need the healing touch of Jesus; we are in continual need of his mercy, forgiveness and blessing. We need continually to call upon him for the help that we need. We need to ignore the thousand clamouring voices that tell us to be quiet and remain satisfied with our beggarly state.

More than that, we need to be persistent in our prayers for others. We all too easily become discouraged and give up praying when our requests are not quickly answered. Maybe there are friends or members of our family who have drifted away from God and we have prayed for them again and again – maybe for several years. We begin to fear that our cries are not being heard and we are tempted to give up praying. Maybe there are friends or family who suffer from chronic illness and we have prayed for them many times but without any discernible effect. Perhaps we have begun to feel that further prayer is pointless. The urgency and persistence of Bartimaeus encourages us to go on calling to the Lord for help – to pray and not grow weary.

Lord Jesus, it fills me with wonder when I read that you came into this world not to be served but to serve and to give your life as a ransom for many. It is because of this that I am bold to cry out with Bartimaeus, “Son of David, have mercy on me! ... Son of David, have mercy on me!” Lord, have mercy also upon those who are dear to me and who are in need. Help me to not grow tired of crying out to you in prayer on their behalf. I have heard of your power and compassion; may I now see it with my own eyes and rejoice in your goodness and love.

Peter Misselbrook