We finish the books of Kings and what a dismal finish it is. As I grow older I think about my legacy and I want to finish strong, but the record of the kings is a very sad, sad story. Nebuchadnezzar lays siege to Jerusalem having conquered much of the Judean countryside. The siege lasts for one and 1/2 years. Starvation is beginning to set in. King Zedekiah makes a break for it along with much of his army. He makes it almost to Jericho when some of Nebuchadnezzar's army captures him. He is returned to the care and custody of Nebuchadnezzar (think Daniel and the Lion's Den) who forces him to watch the death of his sons, then has his eyes gouged out before he is taken to Babylonia as a prisoner of war. All of the best and the brightest of Judah are taken into exile to Babylonia ( think Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). Only the poorest of the poor are left in Jerusalem and Judah.
God's chosen people had possessed the land of milk and honey for 860 years. The took the land, led by Joshua, by faith. they lost the land because they lost their faith and practiced idolatry and disobedience. the wages of sin are high, pray that we would be faithful followers of the one who can bless beyond our capacity to understand blessing. The temple is ransacked and utterly destroyed. The place that had been created for God's habitation is no more. Some Jews fled to Egypt. How ironic that the place that had been their home by forced servitude now becomes a haven to the fleeing refugees. By the time of the New Testament it is estimated that as many as a million Jews lived in and around Alexandria. Zedikiah's predicament is the fulfillment of Ezekial's prophecy found in Ezekiel 12:13, "I will spread my net for him, and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylonia, the land of the Chaldeans, but he will not see it, and there he will die."
What began with such passion and purpose ends in a whimper and a cry of mourning.
The Chronicles were probably written by the Priest and scribe Ezra, whose book will be found later in the Old Testament. It fleshes out some of what we might have thought was missing in the books of Kings. The first two chapters are a partial genealogy. Chapter one begins with Adam and includes what is commonly referred to as the Patriarchs including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Some biblical scholars trace the beginning of many world populations from the sons of Noah, but that is a story for another day.
The 2nd Chapter begins with Jacob's sons and continues through the tribes and clans that possessed the promised land. this is a very important piece of genealogy for the Jews who will return from the exile. Ezra writes in the time when Israel is being released from their bondage to return to the land that had once been theirs. Where will they go? where will they settle? This genealogy reminds them of the ancient tribal lands and helps them to return to the place of their fathers and gives and sense of order as they seek to habituate the land.
It is raining outside as I write these. It is a refreshing sound and I know that it promises new growth in my garden and in all of God's creation. My our faithful reading of the scriptures be as a spring rain to our souls and cause God to bless and encourage us out of his great Easter love for his creation.