The End and the Beginning
Spirit of God, Breath of Life, today I celebrate Your power and give all thanks and praise to You.
2 Chronicles 36:2-23
Consider: God's endings have a way of turning into surprising new beginnings.
The judgment of Judah and Jerusalem, towards which the narrative of Chronicles has been moving, is described in the briefest summary of the reigns of the four pathetic kings who presided over the final years of the kingdom. The historian highlights the ministry of Jeremiah "who spoke the word of the Lord" (12) but, like all the faithful prophets, was mocked and despised, with the result that, in a terrible phrase, "there was no remedy" (16b).
The events of the year 587 B.C., when the Babylonians razed the holy city to the ground, removed the Temple treasures, killed young and old and left Jerusalem a smoldering ruin, can be understood in two ways. First, they may be seen as the outworking of history, as a tiny nation is crushed between competing superpowers and pays the price for its bad political choices. This is how we tend to understand world events: history becomes an endless and brutal power struggle in which might is right, and the nation with the biggest firepower will always come out on top. The chronicler, though, writes a theology of history, clearly expressed in verse 17: "God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar." God did it! Human actors play their roles, but history is the stage on which divine mercy and judgment are displayed, and a nation which broke the covenant pays the price for exhausting the great long-suffering of the Lord.
But wait. The end becomes a new beginning! The chronicler, looking back on these events when Babylon had run its course and been overrun, announces the vindication of the prophets and the appearance of a new ruler who is God's servant (22-23)! What had seemed at the time to be a complete and final ending has turned into one of God's wonderful new beginnings.
Are you living through a painful ending? Pray that, beyond your present grief and suffering, you may discover God opening a new beginning.
Alpha and Omega, it is in You I can experience a new beginning. You reign in my life and I look forward in anticipation to what You are going to do.
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