Restoration Begins

Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 25.28
28 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 30 Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived.

Reflection: Restoration Begins
By John Tillman

Even the Babylonian destruction and exile, with all its violence and extreme practices, could not stop the purposes of God to bless the world through the people he chose.

Jeremiah told Jehoiachin that “even if he was a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off.” (Jeremiah 22.24) However, Jehoiachin did surrender to Babylon rather than rebelling against him like other kings before and after him. 

Perhaps it was this surrender that eventually led to him being restored to some status by the Babylonian king. It is unrecorded in canonical scripture, but Rabbinical tradition assumes that Jehoiachin repented of his wickedness while in captivity. This is shown in how God seems to lift the curse on Jehoiachin that was pronounced by Jeremiah.

Jeremiah stated that Jehoiachin should be “childless” and that no son of his should sit on David’s throne or rule. However, after many years in chains and captivity, the repentant king is restored. 

The writer tells us that Jehoiachin “put aside his prison clothes” and ate at the king’s table. Jehoiachin also had a grandson appointed as governor when the Jews began to be returned to Jerusalem. The prophet Haggai would use the exact same phrase used by Jeremiah to indicate that God had relented and reversed the curse: “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” (Haggai 2.23)

Restoration begins with repentance. Exile and slavery are not the end for God’s people. They’re more like a restart. Israel had been enslaved when he called them out of Egypt. He would soon call them out of Babylon as well. In Egypt, Israel started as honored residents of the nation and ended up as slaves. In Babylon, the pattern reverses. 

Through Jehoiachin, the king who was raised from prison to the side of Babylon’s king, comes Jesus, the king who was raised from death to the side of Heaven’s king.

We, when we repent and return our affection to God, are lifted out of the prison of our sin and seated at the table with Christ. May we put aside our prison clothes, dress in Christ’s righteousness, and walk in freedom that produces justice.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy Name and glory in your praise. — Psalm 85.10

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Kings 25 (Listen – 5:24)
Hebrews 7 (Listen – 2:58)

This Weekend’s Readings
1 Chronicle 1-2 (Listen – 11:18), Hebrews 8 (Listen – 2:22)
1 Chronicle 3-4 (Listen – 8:52), Hebrews 9 (Listen – 4:40)

Read more about Captivity, Exile, and Exodus
The return from exile narrative is a mirror-version of the Exodus from Egypt narrative.

Read more about The Exodus and The Return
There are two different examples in scripture of God setting his people free from oppressive captivity and parallels in the New Testament to go along with them.

To Whom We Pray

From John: 
Read the Bible. Reflect and pray. 

That is the two-pronged, ultra-simplified vision that we have for our readers. This week and part of next we take some time to curate and comment on some classic readings about prayer that may strengthen and encourage us in the practice of prayer.

Reflection: To Whom We Pray
By John Tillman

Many cultures pray. Some pray with greater frequency, devotion, and earnestness than much of Christianity. But the outcomes of prayer depend more upon the faithfulness of the one who hears, rather than the one who prays. Madeleine L’Engle asks the question, “Whom do we pray to?” in her book, And It Was Good.

“If we are to pray, we must know where our prayers are directed. Jesus prayed to his Father. And here again, we have, in this century, a source of confusion…Jesus called the Master of the Universe Abba—daddy. Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was a man he could admire…but what about the rest of us, living in this time of extreme sexual confusion?

There was plenty of sexual confusion in Jesus’ world too, especially in the Roman culture where license and perversion were the order of the day. Nevertheless, Jesus constantly referred to his heavenly Father, and he taught us to pray: Our Father.”

Our century is not unique in being obsessed with sex and awash in sexual confusion. The image of fathers is, historically, troublesome for many.

“For those of us who are only confused or hurt by this image…Perhaps it helps to remember that it is an image…a way of groping toward the real.”

L’Engle recognizes some need to overcome broken father images to see God properly and she has a suggestion… 

“Some of us may find in the image of the Father the parent that we always longed for, and needed, the parent that our human father never was. What is it that we trust most? Is it the turning of the stars in the heavens? That, for me, is another image of the Creator.”

In coming to know God through prayer, we can transcend false and broken father images with the true image of Abba.

“It is Jesus of Nazareth, the Word as a human being, who calls God Abba…if the Word, as Jesus, could call out, “Abba!” so can I.

We all have our own images, and they nourish us, but ultimately the Lord to whom we pray is beyond all images, all imagining.”

When we begin in prayer with the image of God as our loving father we take the first steps of faith toward our true home and truest family, in the kingdom of God.
May our prayers, and their resulting actions, remake in our own mind and in our world the image of a good father.

*Quotations from And It Was Good, by Madeleine L’Engle
*Good, Good Father — by Housefires

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.— Psalm 90:14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Kings 25 (Listen -5:24)
Hebrews 7  (Listen -4:01)

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