Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Dark Night and the New Day

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, July 4, 2013:  II Kings 23:31-25:30

8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. 10 And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around.  11 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude.  II Kings 25:8-11 (NKJV)

God finally brought judgment on Jerusalem and Judah.  Prophetic voices had for years warned of the wrath of God against the idolatry and sin of God's people.  The Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar proceeded to take the great city apart piece by piece.  The Temple was burned; the walls were torn down; the people were enslaved.  It was a day of defeat and devastation in which the the purposes of God for Israel came to a screeching halt.  Or so it seems.

How could anything good come out of the total destruction of Jerusalem?  Events such as this test our ability to believe that God could take such BAD things and turn them into GOOD.  In our own experience, the death of a loved one, the loss of health, or the failure of a marriage seem  so FINAL.  How can such devastating developments ever be molded into anything good?

II Kings 25 is a picture of the END OF AN ERA.  It is an accurate description of God's judgment finally falling on Judah.  But there is however another chapter in the Bible that gives a different perspective.  The prophet Jeremiah ministered during the Fall of Jerusalem.  Jeremiah 29 was written even as the Jews were being carried off to Babylon.  From that chapter, we find that more is taking place than the negative, punitive judgment of God.  

Jeremiah 29:4-6 says, "4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:  5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished."  

Even while destruction is unfolding, God says INCREASE!  Even while God's people were losing their houses in Jerusalem, God says buy one in Babylon so you can be ready when it comes time to reclaim what you have lost.  What seems to be so negative is really the setting for increase.

Jeremiah 29:7 carries this further telling us to BLESS the new place to which you have come.  "And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace."

Rather than lament your losses, BLESS YOUR NEW CITY.

Jeremiah 29:10 states, "For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place."  God tells Judah that this entire event is still UNDER HIS CONTROL.  He gives a time frame -- 70 years.  That means God is still directing Israel's path.

Even though the it seems that everything has fallen to pieces, God's timeline is still in place.  GOD'S TIMING is still perfect.  He already knows the duration of this season in your life.

One of the most quoted verses of the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11.  "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."  Many may not realize that the CONTEXT of this great promise is one of the darkest days in the history of the Jewish people.

No matter how large the set-back, God still has awesome plans for us.  No matter how much it seems the wrath of God is released against idolatry and sin, still He says that His thoughts toward us are good, are peaceful, and are in no way evil.  THAT is the grace and mercy of our God!

God always has a plan.  He invites us to call upon Him -- to pray.  He promises a COMEBACK.  

12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.  Jeremiah 29:12-14 (NKJV)

The destruction of Jerusalem was not the end.  It was but the dark night that preceded the dawning of a new and better day.  In the words of the Psalmist:

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.  Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)

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