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 2013 - Romans 15:1-21 – What are the Scriptures for?

There was tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians at Rome and Paul was seeking to get them to show a greater concern for each other. He reminds them that Jesus did not please himself; he lived to please his heavenly Father and lived as a servant of others. Then, having quoted one of the Psalms, which Paul sees as having prophetic application to Christ he says, “Everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). He then speaks of God himself as the source of such endurance and encouragement, before returning to the theme of hope, of which God also is the source.

Let’s try to unpack a number of the things that the apostle Paul is saying here concerning Scripture. First of all, he echoes Jesus words in John 5:39; all of Scripture finds its focus in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is at the heart of the plans and purposes of God revealed in Scripture. It is his story. But secondly, all Scripture was written for us – for our instruction. We may have our favourite sections or passages of the Bible, but all of it was written for our learning. Since all Scripture speaks of Christ, all Scripture speaks to the Christian. It is all our story.

Thirdly, God himself speaks to us through Scripture; he instructs us through his Word.

And that Word, says Paul, is written for our endurance – so that we might go on following Christ and not give up. It is full of warnings concerning those who complained or gave up when the going got tough, but it is also full of examples of those who carried on living a life of costly faithfulness towards God and of service towards others. In this, Jesus is our supreme example. He did not give up on the work the Father had given him to do, even when facing the horror of crucifixion. “He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

And so Scripture is written also for our encouragement. It’s never a matter of grim endurance but of glad obedience and faithfulness, encouraged by those who have gone before us, by God himself who encourages us by his Word and Spirit and by the Lord Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

In this way, Scripture provides us with hope. We have been given insight into the plans and purposes of God and into the great things that he has in store for us in the age to come. We live towards such things and gladly press on in the light that they cast backwards upon us. We live in the light of the resurrection of Jesus that underwrites our hope of glory to come.

Paul encourages the Christians in Rome, Jew and Gentile, to press on together in their understanding of Scripture as their common heritage and in following the Lord Jesus who has joined them together as his chosen people. He encourages them, and us, with the words, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Spirit of God.” (15:13)

Father God, we thank you for the Scriptures and particularly for Jesus Christ, the word made flesh. We thank you also for one another. May we encourage one another through your Word and Spirit as together we follow Christ to glory.

Peter Misselbrook