2 Kings 23:31-25:30; Acts 22:17-23:10; Psalm 2:1-12; Proverbs 18:13
Independence Day. We remember our country's freedom and the liberties that were fought for all those years ago. We celebrate that we continue to live in a free country where we can still live and practice whatever religions, lifestyles, politics, etc. we each may wish. That is not true in so many countries around the world.
And now, as of today's reading, that is not true for the Israelites either. I find it sort of ironic that the day we remember our own country's freedom, we read about the captivity of Judah. Their sister nation, Israel, has already been in captivity for some time, and now we see that Judah has also fallen and is ruled by Babylon.
2 Kings tells us that only the poorest people of the land were left and the rest of Jerusalem were carried into exile, numbering up to ten thousand (2 Ki. 24:14). Living in exile is hard. People are stripped from their homes and families and sent to a foreign nation with foreign gods, customs, foods, languages, and so much more. Can you imagine being taken away from all that you hold dear? Or if you were one of the ones left behind, I don't imagine life would be much easier living in the impoverished state of Jerusalem.
Last year, around this time, I attended my uncle's funeral. He was a Vietnam veteran and had lived a hard life after the war. There were many difficult years, but I am glad to say he knew Jesus in the end and I am glad he is celebrating true freedom with our Lord now. But I was really struck at the funeral how the military really gets the idea of honor right. The ceremony reminded all of us what a sacrifice these men and women have made to serve our country, and we honor them for giving so much of their lives for our freedoms.
I am so grateful for this relative time of peace and this nation of prosperity we live in. No matter what our views on war/military may be, let us continue to remember and celebrate those who brought us that freedom so long ago and continue to do so today. Let us pray for peace in our nation, just as Jesus commands the people of his day to pray for the peace of their own nation. It is hard to live in captivity.
And how completely fitting is Psalm 2 today to close out our reading. It says, "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand...the One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them...'I will make the nations your [the Son's] inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession" (Ps. 2:1,2,4,8). We are reminded who the True King is, the Ruler of all. We need not fear the wars and rulers of man. We serve the One enthroned in heaven.
- Mary Matthias
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