By The Rev. Jay Sidebotham
Not with a bang but a whimper. That’s how the Second Book of Kings seems to end. Could it get any worse? Chapter 25 describes the fall of Jerusalem, heart wrenching destruction followed by the deportation of the people into Babylonian exile. It’s the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy, as King Zedekiah tries to flee, a foolish and futile effort. He is captured and forced to watch the execution of his sons, before his own eyes are put out. The people are carried off into exile. That’s almost the end of the story. But not quite.
In the final verses of the book, a small ember suggests a fire could be rekindled. The promise to David that his royal lineage would continue is kept alive. Barely. King Jehoichan of Judah is released from the Babylonian prison. The Babylonian ruler speaks kindly to him, and gives him a seat above the other kings. Jehoiachin puts off prison clothes. He comes to dine with the king. He gets a regular allowance for the rest of his life.
If this was a movie, that last detail would signify sequel. There is more coming. Today, as we come to the conclusion of this sad history in which power dissipates, we are called to hold that in tension with the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans,. This letter, the longest of those attributed to St. Paul, has been instrumental again and again in the renewal and reformation of the church, especially when hope seems lost. The letter bears its own power, the power of the gospel, as seen in the verses that declare the theme of the letter, Romans 1:16, 17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.” As you come to the end of the story described in II Kings, as you simultaneously begin Paul’s letter to the Romans, claim the power of God to work even and especially in the brokenness of the human condition.
Have you ever experienced a glimmer of light in situations that seem beyond hope?
What resources do you have in your own life that help you move forward? Where do you find your power?
Eternal light, even in the moments when hope seems to have been extinguished, help me to remember the power of your love revealed in Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Rev. Jay Sidebotham is Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois