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Ever heard the phrase, “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? Sometimes reading the bible can feel a lot like this. By being overwhelmed by the lower story, we can fail to see the upper story, if we are not looking for it. Chapter 17 was lower story hell. 150 years earlier the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen to the hands of the Assyrians. This was okay because the promise of God for the coming Messiah, their Savior, was coming through David and he was part of the Southern Tribe of Judah. Now, however, Judah has become as evil as its northern predecessor and now the Babylonians are about to take them.
Things had gotten so bleak that the story says that God saw “no remedy.” He now hands them over to the wicked Babylonians. As much as he loves his people, his name is at stake. The integrity of his holiness has been threatened by the disobedience of the people. He will not allow his name to be defamed…too much is at stake.
While Jerusalem falls, 4600 Israelites are exiled to Babylon. This exile is actually protection for the family line of David. Their story is not over. Their God has not left them. He has acted in holiness and grace. His people need correction, but they also need grace to return, and God provides both.
No matter how dark our circumstances may seem today, God offers hope to those who see him. There is no promise for removal of circumstances, but his presence is promised. When we cling to him and do what he says, he takes those circumstances and uses them to produce good in our lives and in the lives of those around us.