Daily Devotion for Tuesday 4th June 2024

Tuesday, 4 June 2024  Conquest and Chaos

 
2 Kings 25:22-30
 
[The king of Babylon] appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan as governor over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had left. Now when all the captains of the forces and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah as governor, they came with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah, namely, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite. Gedaliah swore to them and their men, saying, ‘Do not be afraid because of the Chaldean officials; live in the land, serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.’ But in the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, came with ten men; they struck down Gedaliah so that he died, along with the Judeans and Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. Then all the people, high and low, and the captains of the forces, set out and went to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.
 
In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, released King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison; he spoke kindly to him, and gave him a seat above the other seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes. Every day of his life he dined regularly in the king’s presence. For his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion every day, as long as he lived.
 
Reflection

I visited Myanmar in February 2020, to help Christians there progress an old property dispute. It struck me as a land with a rich and resourceful mix of cultures, but a difficult history too. Since then fresh disasters have cascaded in: Covid, a coup and military rule, civil wars, cyclone and floods. Many able and public-spirited people, mostly young, are dead or imprisoned, or have left home to join the resistance. There are about two million internal refugees – quite apart from the ugly expulsion of almost a million Rohingya in 2017. Education, health care and economic life have largely collapsed. People are not flourishing.
 
The last half-chapter of 2 Kings is a sad, chaotic, confusing slice of text, a tangle of names, conflicts and tragedies. It does not match events in Myanmar exactly. But it does show a land conquered, subdued, ravaged and ransacked, by a fierce and well-armed power. Many people have been exiled, or have chosen to leave. Some are willing to serve their rulers. Others would rather strike a blow for liberty. Command and control are contested, blood flows easily and life is cheap. A man who might have led the nation spends decades in jail, and ends his days without really being set free.
 
2 Kings stops here. History has hit the buffers. This piece of scripture invites us to feel the heavy weight of sorrow, anarchy and utter futility that has fallen on Judah. There will be no quick return to the life people once knew.
 
Yet God has not given up. Even exile will end. Faith will have the resilience to stay alive in foreign lands. Prophets will speak once more. Temple and city walls will rise again. Grace has not signed off in Judah. Nor in Myanmar.
 
Prayer

God of hope and purpose, we pray for Myanmar:
  you know the many people who love that land,
  who seek and long to serve its good.
So we pray that hurt may turn to hope,
  poverty to promise, and fear to trust.
We pray for our church friends in Myanmar,
  that they may be steady in faith, hope and love,
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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