2 CORINTHIANS 3
If you are a real believer in Christ, you won’t need a certificate that proves the fact, because your heart has His Name written all over it. Your life will prove ownership and membership. Paul’s disciples in Corinth were all the introduction he required to that church – they only existed because of his efforts on their behalf. Whom do we acknowledge as having a big influence on our life – from childhood, through teenage years, young adulthood, parenthood and into middle- and old- age? Obviously, part of the answer is ‘Jesus’, but there are also other man and women of God who have helped build Christ in you; are we acknowledging them and their legacy? For example, see Galatians 6:6 and Hebrews 13:7.
Paul compares our inheritance and empowerment with that of Moses under the Old Covenant. Moses’ face shone with God’s glory – because he’d been so close to him – but the glory soon faded as Moses left the Presence; therefore, Moses hid that fact with a veil, to prevent the people noticing.
By direct comparison, our glory is increasing (see v18), so we do not need to hide it behind veils, out of a sense of shame. As we look upon the Lord’s glory, we ourselves are being transformed into his image more and more.
There is now no glory left in Judaism – it is like an empty chrysalis! The Spirit of God has moved on, and we would do well to follow him! But even that, at the time was full of God’s glory – even what Paul calls the ‘ministry’ that brought death and condemnation, engraved on stone, and transient – even that, for a time, shone with the glory of God.
But our glory, our ‘ministry’ in the Holy Spirit is more glorious to start with and increases in glory, as time goes on, since we carry that glory within our bodies. It brings righteousness and is eternal, being engraved on human hearts that will live forever. It we who are being changed from one level of glory to the next higher one as his Spirit bursts out from within our lives.
So we can be bold, since we have the Spirit of Freedom living within us!
2 CHRONICLES 36
We have already read in 2 Kings the account of the exile. Now we read it again in 2 Chronicles and later in Jeremiah. Interestingly, Daniel the prophet was probably included in those Jews taken early into exile. King Jehoiakim had become Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal for three years, but the attack on the Babylonians by the Egyptian army probably encouraged Jehoiakim to rebel and attempt to change sides; unsurprisingly, this encouraged Nebuchadnezzar to attack Jerusalem again by way of punishment of the king. Jehoiakim died shortly before the city fell.
His son, Jehoiachin became king at the age of eighteen, for the last three months of the siege. Not a great time to take up the throne! It was obvious that it was futile to resist Nebuchadnezzar any longer and sensibly Jehoiachin surrendered and became Nebuchadnezzar’s prisoner. A large number of people, including most of the royal officials were taken back to Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar then appointed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, as king instead – at the ripe old age of twenty-one. Rather surprisingly, for a king ruling at such a time, Zedekiah reigned for as long as eleven years. Just like the previous three kings who had followed Josiah, Zedekiah was another evildoer in the eyes of the Lord and showed little political savvy either.
Nine years into his reign, Zedekiah himself rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and this was the ‘final straw’: the entire Babylonian army was mustered and laid siege to Jerusalem to the last time. The siege took nearly two years, but the outcome was inevitable – mainly because the Lord had already prophesied through Jeremiah that the city was fall to Nebuchadnezzar. Foolishly, Zedekiah tried to escape rather than surrender, and was easily captured, tried, blinded, and taken in chains to Babylon. Many of his officials were executed. This time the entire contents of the temple and the palaces that had any value were collected and brought as tribute to Nebuchadnezzar; little of the nation was permitted to remain, other than a handful of poor people who were tasked with caring for the land.
Gedaliah was placed in control, under the authority of Nebuchadnezzar, and for a while there was peace. Gedaliah wisely urged submission to the Babylonians, just as Jeremiah had previously, but this was not an entirely popular message. Within seven months Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal had been assassinated and, in fear of reprisals, the remaining people escaped to Egypt.
On a positive note, after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, the next ruler of Babylon released Jehoiachin from prison and gave him certain privileges as a royal captive. Much later, after seventy years of captivity, the Lord remembered his promise to Jeremiah and moved the heart of Cyrus, King of Persia, to set in the place the mechanism for the rebuilding of the temple and the resettlement of the Jewish kingdom. These are the final words of 2 Chronicles.
There is almost a welcome sense of relief that, at last, the punishment imposed by the Lord upon Israel and Judah has been completed – it had been hanging over them far too long. At least now, the next phase – that of rebuilding the nation – can at last get under way.