Out of the frying pan, into the fire
2Kings 24: The threat from Egypt was now over.
Aside from the remaining wealth amassed by Solomon Judah is a minor player on the world stage. The real action has been between mighty Egypt and mighty Babylonia. Egypt is the old power and Babylonia is the new. The small kingdoms that are unfortunate enough to be between the two are mere pawns in their chess match for domination of the region. Babylon wins. Having driven Egyptian forces out of the region, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon now turns his attention to subduing the small kingdoms of the region. Judah has been defeated once, but as Nebuchadnezzar’s attention has been on other matters, Jehoiakim, king of Judah revolted, leading to a series of attacks by other smaller armies against Jerusalem. Judah has been driven to her knees as Nebuchadnezzar, himself, arrives to direct the assault on the small beleaguered country. Jerusalem surrenders and Babylonian forces plunder the city. There will be a few more stories to tell, but the grave is already dug and the end of Judah is at hand. There have been some less than perfect opportunities for Judah to remain a nation. For instance, Jehoiakim didn’t have to rebel and could have continued to pay tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. Still, as we’re reminded several times here, “God said it would happen.” For them, this is Judgment Day. Anyone who thinks God is “too good” or “too kind” to pronounce condemnation on those who reject him should read the final chapters of 2 Kings.
Take Away: Never doubt that the holiness of the Lord means he will judge sin.
Isaiah 19: God will openly show himself to the Egyptians and they’ll get to know him on that Day.
The words of condemnation to Egypt compare what’s coming to a powerful storm, sweeping away everything in its path. Even the mighty Nile, the symbol of life in Egypt, will be dried up and the nation will be in a hopeless state. Surprisingly, Isaiah’s tone suddenly changes. It’s almost as though the storm ends and the sun breaks through. God will make an appearance to Egypt and, with all else swept away, the people of that land will turn to him with all their hearts. Isaiah says, “Egypt will come back to God.” Additionally, we’re told, Assyria will join Egypt in the worship of God and the result will be that they’ll “share the blessing.” In one of his most famous statements Jesus announces that God “so loved the world.” However, here we are back in the Old Testament where a Hebrew prophet has been, just as would be expected, telling how God’s going to destroy all the enemies of the people of Israel. Then, the tone of his prophecy suddenly changes. The enemies of God’s people aren’t going to be wiped off the face of the earth. Instead, they’re going to be converted! Here, then is the heart of every missionary effort. If God wants to do away with those who reject him, he can do it with just a word. Instead, he engineers circumstances designed to draw us to him. Granted, some of those circumstances are stout medicine, but, then again, it isn’t annihilation, which is what we deserve. In this somewhat confusing turnabout passage we get a glimpse of what will only become clear through the ministry of Jesus.
Take Away: The Lord wants to save all people – that’s good news for you and me.