“God’s beautiful gift of rest and freedom from the slavery of activity to which people seem prone to give themselves.”
Gladding’s description of the Sabbath shakes me—a not so gentle rousing from the daze of default living. This autopilot lifestyle is one set on a collision course with death waiting at the other end.
There is no freedom in that.
As the story leading up to the Babylonian exile comes to an end, so too does the story of our slavery to sin. Sin divides and conquers and makes reconciliation with our heavenly Father seem so impossible that we eventually forget we were ever His children.
Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Living this side of Jesus makes it easy to remember God’s promises; they’ve become reality. What is history today, felt merely like a story before the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, and continual hope of Christ. Believing in the yet to be seen rescue from exile required a faith much more difficult to cultivate, and entirely too easy to leave behind as time passed.
“And king after king after king led the people into breaking covenant with their God.”
Surrounded by the ungodly, God’s people had learned to blend in and soon they found man’s ways preferable to working toward the standards of the covenant entered into generations earlier. Instant gratification paid off more readily than waiting on the Lord.
Conceit had taken the place of relying on the Lord. We were God’s chosen people, carrying around His very presence in our Temple, what could mere mortals do to us? It wasn’t the first time we’d twist His Word to fit our want and it wouldn’t be the last, but perhaps it would turn out to be the most detrimental.
Eventually, self-worship penetrated the Temple walls and God left the not so holy of holies in which we had attempted to contain Him. “We seemed to think that as long as we had God’s presence in the Temple, how we lived did not matter.”
Here is where true exile began. Now we were separated from the Lord on a level we’d never even thought possible. Seems we forgot Who made who in a land full of manmade gods.
Praise God we never have to wonder if this is the end of the story, as the little boy asks in this chapter! It’s heartbreaking to imagine living without that assurance. Thankfully, we serve a merciful God, and He provided us with hope long before He delivered on the promise of salvation.
“Our God is a God of grace. Even in the midst of this deserved disaster, the Lord has promised that God will be faithful to the covenant, even when we are not.”
Delivering hope to all through the prophets, the Lord revealed details of a story written long before it would play out. Our situation wasn’t changing, but neither was our God.
Just as He’d always done, the Lord provided.
Strength, instruction, direction, purpose—the Lord had provided all His people needed for godly living, even among the godless. Through the hardship, He had built a people prepared to share the opportunity of exodus with the entire world!
Through their story, we understand our own. Through their story, we understand our God. Through their story, we understand the hope of Christ Jesus. God’s people were told of a delivery from captivity they’d never know firsthand, and God’s faithfulness is revealed to us through the story of their faith and even the tragic lack thereof.
No, this isn’t where the story ends; this is where true freedom begins.