Intimate Obedience to the Father
2 Kings 25
25 So on January 15, during the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon led his entire army against Jerusalem. They surrounded the city and built siege ramps against its walls. 2 Jerusalem was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah’s reign.3 By July 18 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah’s reign, the famine in the city had become very severe, and the last of the food was entirely gone. 4 Then a section of the city wall was broken down. Since the city was surrounded by the Babylonians, the soldiers waited for nightfall and escaped through the gate between the two walls behind the king’s garden. Then they headed toward the Jordan Valley. 5 But the Babylonian troops chased the king and overtook him on the plains of Jericho, for his men had all deserted him and scattered. 6 They captured the king and took him to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where they pronounced judgment upon Zedekiah. 7 They made Zedekiah watch as they slaughtered his sons. Then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.
What a tragic end to a king who was so sure of himself and felt so secure in his own plans. Zedekiah, with all the weapons and military still available in Israel, is captured by the enemy in the same place of his predecessor Joshua. The unarmed people of Israel caused the walls of Jericho to fall with nothing more than their voices and their trust in God. The irony of these biblical events serve a great reminder. Regardless of the worldly resources we may have available, the safest and most secure place we can walk is in intimate obedience to Father God. Walking in obedience to His voice, to the best of our ability, enables and fortifies us to overcome the enemy in a way we never could have otherwise.
Zedekiah could have avoided his gruesome fate, if he had just heeded and obeyed the words of God, through the Prophet Jeremiah. Of course, Zedekiah does not and instead rebels from the word of the Lord, which causes his family to be slaughtered and His eyes removed (Yuck!). The last thing Zedekiah sees before permanent darkness is his loved ones being slaughtered, as a result of him trusting in his own ability and resources.
Reliance in self is the core of rebellion. Rebellion to God, is believing we can do a better job than God at providing for ourselves and working out our own life’s story. This belief causes us to act in such a way we disregard His leadership for our lives, and live as we believe in our own best interest. Though it might seem wise in worldly terms, providing and fighting for yourself always leads to the same end, destruction. King Zedekiah was dealt an absolute ultimatum from God: surrender to the Babylonians, and allow God to care for you and your people according to His plan in a foreign land, or refuse to surrender and try to take care of yourself. This plan will most certainly end in pain, suffering and death. Zedekiah did not trust God’s plan for His life and believed there was no better option than to look for an opportunity to save himself. Zedekiah was already spiritually blind before he was captured and his rebellious nature caused him to be physically blind as well.
This is another common theme in the Scriptures, man in his fallen nature, has to learn to die to himself in order to trust God and live in His divine purposes. Although, it never feels satisfying in the process, learning to let go of our own will and instead cling to God’s, always leads to life and life abundantly. Zedekiah's opportunistic decision making, reminds me of the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The young son is born into abundance and societal privilege. Unfortunately, he is spiritually blind and cannot see the benefits of being a son born into his father’s house. So, he sees an opportunity and decides, like King Zedekiak, to take the chance to care for himself. In the story, this looks like asking his father for his family inheritance early, which in Hebrew culture is the equivalent of telling your father you wish he were dead. The good father overlooks this offense and obliges to the young son's request. The father gives him his portion of the family estate and sends him off to build his own life. It’s funny that in both stories, and often our own life, what looks like opportunity and success in the world's standard is actually the trap that leads us into ruins. I think the enemy understands we are prone to wander from God's will when there is a seemingly better option presented in front of us. Any opportunity that distracts us from God’s clear direction in our life is most certainly a destructive distraction.
Like Zedekaih, this opportunity does not work out in the young son's favor and he finds himself starving and doing the most degrading work possible. It’s at this point while salivating over pig slop, that he comes to his senses and discovers how blind he had actually been. As most of us know, he returns home in shame ready to grovel at his father’s feet for a place back in the household as a common slave. The good father, who had been waiting for his return, embraces his son and restores him back to the household before the son can even finish apologizing for his rebellion. What a picture of grace the Father has for us. He is always willing to receive and restore us from the mess of trying to be our own provider.
As the story goes the father then throws a feast, to celebrate his wayward son's return and restoration, which stirs the jealousy of the lesser mentioned older son. The older son sees the festivities and becomes indignant because he, like the younger son, is also spiritually blind to the father’s care and love. This son accuses the father to his face of not being good and generous, because he never had been celebrated for his steadfast service to the father. The reality is this son is just as rebellious, doubting, and untrusting as the younger son ever was. In fact, I would venture to say that the older son had probably “ran from the father’s house emotionally, long before the younger son ever did physically.” The only difference between him and his younger sibling was, the older had been self-righteously serving himself inside the father’s house and the younger was out in the world serving himself. Same rebellion, different location. The father who is always caring, always inviting us to know his love, explains to the older son; 31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.” He never took the time to get to know his father, he lived as an orphan in his home. He only knew him as a farm manager and not as a good and gracious father who had already given him everything.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but most of us have learned to live in the church as the older brother. When we become hardened and disenfranchised by life, we find refuge in the church. We quickly take to doing tasks and busy work in the “Father’s house” to cover and deal with the way we feel about ourselves in relation to the Father. We do these things for Him to prove to ourselves that we are capable and self-sufficient sons and daughters. We never stop to learn how to have a relationship with Him, and walk in obedience to His voice. Though these activities might look pious and spiritual to the world around us, it’s actually a form of spiritual blindness and rebellion. It is a form of self-service to validate us before God, because we don’t believe that He has already called us worthy. The most important task before each of us is to discover our identity in Jesus, so that we can learn to trust the Father and His will for our lives. Everything fruitful in your life will flow from this revelation. Without being grounded in this simple truth, we are susceptible to being led astray by false opportunities or by validating ourselves with meaningless busyness. Walking in relationship with the Father is walking in His grace and supernatural power to overcome every seemingly, impossible obstacle in our lives. It’s knowing He is good and always quick to restore us from our blindness. Also, it’s knowing walking in obedience to His voice will always provide the best outcome for our lives, no matter how we feel in the moment. Intimately walking in obedience to Father God is what we were created for.