DELIVERANCE OF THE KING

The Nebuchadnezzar Tablet

The Nebuchadnezzar Tablet. It reads: “In the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the country of Babylon, he went to Egypt [Misr] to make war. Amasis, king of Egypt, collected [his army], and marched and spread abroad.”

THE KING’S DELIVERANCE

Jeremiah 52:31-34

We come to the final chapter of the book of Jeremiah. What started out as prophesy is now recorded for us as history. The events of this chapter are seen in 2 Kings 24 and 25 and this shows why the book of Jeremiah is so important. This one book of prophesy, more than any other book of prophesy in the Bible, shows us the dynamic nature of the prophetic ministry. If anybody has doubts about the veracity of Biblical prophecy, they need to be pointed to the book of Jeremiah.

The Fall of Jerusalem vindicated Jeremiah. Every word he prophesied came to pass. But this was no cause for rejoicing. The Fall of Jerusalem was the worst thing that ever happened to God’s people. Jerusalem would again fall in 70 AD, but when it fell to the Babylonians, even though it was rebuilt and restored later, it would never be the kingdom that David and Solomon envisaged. And there is a real lesson here for all of God’s people. Had the ancient Israelites remained faithful to God and lived in obedience to His Law, who knows what the Middle East would look like today. Because of their constant disobedience and their obsession with idolatry, God caused the amazing kingdom built by David to fall. It would never look the same, even though God allowed the Jews to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. Sin has consequences. Try as they might to make Jerusalem the city it was generations ago, it was never the same, and today, Israel and Jerusalem are the palest images of the glorious jewels they were during the Davidic years.

The Fall of Jerusalem was God’s punishment for the disobedience of His people. Some people who are ignorant of what the Bible teaches think God went over the line; that His punishment was too extreme. Some ignorant people look at the Old Testament and don’t see a God of love. These people need to stop talking and read Leviticus 26. That whole chapter is summed up by two verses in the New Testament:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7, 8)

Sin brings ruin to any individual and any nation that indulges in it. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, but he was also “God’s servant,” and that is how he is described three times in the book of Jeremiah (see chapters 25, 27, and 43). He was God’s servant in the sense that he was God’s sword of vengeance in the punishment of Judah for their rebellion against Him.

Jehoiachin, then-king of Judah, was taken captive and thrown into a Babylonian prison, where he stayed for 47 years. Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor with the unfortunate name of Evil-Merodach (Awel-Marduk in the TNIV), restored Jehoiachin’s freedom and changed his life. What happened to King Jehoiachin serves as an excellent picture of the grace of God.

1. Deliverance

In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison. (Jeremiah 52:31)

Here is an excellent picture of God’s grace in action: the new king of Babylon did something for Jehoiachin that Jehoiachin could not do for himself. Awel-Marduk didn’t have to release the king. There were other national leaders in prison that didn’t get released. What the king of Babylon did for the former king of Judah is exactly what God does for the repentant sinner:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (PSALM 40:2)

What happened to Jehoiachin happened to us. By His royal authority, God released us from the prison of sin.

2. Comforted and exalted

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. (Jeremiah 52:32)

Generally speaking, laws are not very comforting. But grace is! “Grace” means being treated better than you deserved to be treated.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God… (Ephesians 2:8)

Salvation – being set free from bondage to sin – is completely a work of God from start to finish. Even the faith needed in salvation is given to us by God! When our sins are forgiven and we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes in and takes up residence in our hearts, and one of the many things He does for us, in us, and to us, is to communicate the assurance of salvation to us.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (Romans 8:16)

God’s grace in salvation is a topic that never ends. God’s grace is as wide and as deep as eternity itself. In the coming ages, God’s people – all of God’s people – will testify to the greatness of God’s grace:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6, 7)

Isn’t that exactly what Awel-Marduk did for Jehoiachin? He gave the former king of Judah a seat of honor in the court of Babylon. Jehoichin of Judah was not the only king in Babylon. As Babylon rolled over all the nations in its way, it absorbed their citizens, and took captive their royal families. But of all the captive kings, the one from Judah was exalted. What a picture of the spiritual uplifting enjoyed by Christians. Full of sin and prone to failure, believers are lifted up and strengthened and the sin that once hounded them is conquered once and for all by the blood of Jesus Christ! If man’s fall from grace through sin was great, how much greater is the grace that restores us to God’s favor? Like the words to that great hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” we can all say,

Oh, to grace how great a debtor!

3. Clothed and honored

So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. (Jeremiah 52:33)

What an amazing verse! Do you remember another man in the Old Testament called Mephibosheth? He was a descendant of King Saul. After David became king of Israel, he wanted to make sure Saul’s family was taken care of.

David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1)

There was, and his name was Mephibosheth. David showed this cripple undeserved grace:

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) (2 Samuel 9:9, 10)

Oh, to grace how great a debtor! Jehoiachin was not only released from prison, but for the rest of his life was given the privilege to eating at the king’s table. From prison to pinnacle! From prison clothes to dinner jackets. From slop to caviar.

When God’s grace changes a life, it changes everything.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” (Zechariah 3:1-4)

This is what grace does for the redeemed. It cleans us up; it takes the filthy rags of our righteousness and replaces them with the white robe of Christ’s righteousness. We are cleaned up and made ready eat at the king’s table.

4. Supplied

Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death. (Jeremiah 52:34)

Notice what else the king of Babylon did for the former king of Judah:

Pension

For the rest of his life, Jehoiachin was given a pension! Who knew Babylon had Social Security? Jehoiachin did! Having needs met is another wonderful provision of grace. When God saves us, He doesn’t stop. His grace continues to work in us. He promises to meet all our needs.

Daily payments

This pension was daily. For every day, for the rest of his life, the king’s needs were met. He had no more worries. Jehoiachin could have written a verse like this one because he experienced it:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

A pension from the king

Notice that Jehoiachin’s pension payments came from the king, probably from the palace.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Conclusion

And so the book of Jeremiah ends on an upbeat note, at least for one person. Why did Jehoiachin suddenly receive all these blessings? Certainly we are given a real-life illustration of grace. But the exiles in Babylon were given hope. If their captive king had been treated well by the Babylonians, maybe they would receive the same treatment. It took three more decades, but eventually the Jews were shown grace and allowed to return to Jerusalem.

Jehoiachin didn’t live long enough to go home. He died in Babylon. Jeremiah had prophesied that no king from this family like would ever sit on throne of David. The Davidic line through Solomon ended with Jehoiachin. But the Son of David who will come and sit on that throne through eternity was born through another line, the line of Nathan. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was from that line and it is in that line that Jesus Christ can lay claim to the throne of David.

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