The conclusion of the Book of 2 Kings seems hopeless, doesn’t it? The Babylonians have taken what is left of Judah and its capital city of Jerusalem, and most of the people have been exiled and killed. It’s depressing. But there is hope. You have to look for it a little, but by golly, it’s in there. God never leaves us without hope. Look at verse 12: “But the captain of the guard allowed some of the poorest people to stay behind … .”
Now, let’s look at who else is left. Chapter 24 told us that King Jehoiachin, who was an evil king but nevertheless the king, was put into prison in Babylon during his reign. His uncle, Zedekiah, was appointed king by the king of Babylon. (Zedekiah’s given name was Mattaniah, but the Babylonian king changed it.) So, while Zedekiah didn’t inherit the throne due to his bloodline, Judah’s rulership remains in the original family from which it started, which goes all the way back to King David. So, Zedekiah is in charge, and he sticks around quite a while, but the duties of kingship and the desperation of famine finally get to him, and he makes a run for it out the back gateway behind his royal garden. Well, just like Zedekiah deserted his people, his people eventually deserted him. So, Zedekiah was captured and received a most horrible fate: he watched his sons get slaughtered, and his eyes were gouged out. So, now we’ve got the original king in prison in Babylon and his backup king in prison in Babylon, which was the opportune time for the Babylonians to swoop in and take what valuables were left of the Temple and burn it to the ground. And what did God care? Few people were using it anyway, and something tells me that God didn’t find His home very homey anymore.
Now, the Temple is gone, and most all the people are gone from Jerusalem, but let’s turn our attention back to the few who are left, the poor remnants, the hope. They were left in Jerusalem to care for the vineyards and fields, most likely major crops that could bring the Babylonians food and money. To watch over these few laborers, King Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah. We don’t have a clue who Gedaliah is, but we get the feeling that he might be from the community, as the group of guys who went to see him seemed to feel pretty comfortable in initiating talks. Gedaliah, however, appears to be a sell-out. He tells the fellas that the Babylonian officials mean no harm, and if these guys just served the king of Babylon, all would be spiffy. The remnants were having none of it. Despite its severe depletion, Judah still contained a handful of people who refused to bow to any king except the king of Judah, the king who God himself put on the throne. So, the boys posse-ed up (I don’t know how to write that properly) and got rid of Gedaliah. Now, here’s where you have to pay a little attention to find the other little bit of hope, outside of the remnants left in Jerusalem, at the end of this chapter. Verse 25 says, “Ishmael … who was a member of the royal family, went to Mizpah … ” and killed Gedaliah. The kings of Judah may be in prison, but a member of their lineage is taking up the slack. Ishmael is a direct descendant of King David, and not only that, we learn at the end of the chapter that Judah’s reigning king is still very much alive. I like the subtitle my NLT version gives the final paragraph of 2 Kings – “Hope for Israel’s Royal Line.”
I also put a big heart around the word “midautumn” in verse 25. I can’t say I’ve ever seen the word midautumn, and I thought it was lovely.
Writing prompt: hope is alive
Write your thoughts about the overall message you received from 2 Kings, and elaborate on where hope is alive for God’s people.