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A Picture of Grace

Scripture Passage: 2 Kings 25:27-30

"And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison; And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon; And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life" (2 Kings 25:27-29).

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Someone else said that a pound of illustration is worth a ton of explanation. There must be some merit to these statements for God has filled the pages of the Bible with what may be called word pictures. Such have the ability to flash a mental picture in our minds at the mere mention of some word. Evidently our Lord Jesus Christ valued such methods of teaching for He frequently used illustrations which are called parables. One example is that of building a house on a rock or on the sand. While many people may not have actually constructed their place of residence, most people have seen the process and know how essential it is to build on a solid foundation. Building on the sand automatically associates failure to the endeavor, while building on the rock gave confidence in the whole building. This lesson was divinely designed to set Christ before us as the "Rock of Ages" and the foundation upon which to build our Christian lives (Matthew 7:24-27). Since our Lord used parables and illustrations so effectively, it seems wisdom that we all endeavor to do so. While the passage before us now is not a picture painted by an artist on canvas, it is designed to paint a picture of grace in our minds.

Perhaps the best place to begin our study is by an explanation of the names of the characters who are described in the passage now under consideration. Basically there are only two main characters in the lesson and they are Jehoiachin, king of Judah; and Evil-merodach, king of Babylon. Other kings are mentioned in passing but none of them are referred to by name. Other people are also involved, such as those who carried out the commands of the king, but neither are their names given. So we shall look at the two that are named and the meaning and significance of their names. The first one who is mentioned was the king of Judah named Jehoiachin. He was the son of a man named Jehoiachim. It is easy to distinguish between father and son if you follow one simple rule. Keep in mind that "m" precedes "n" in the alphabet and that the names are identical except for the last letter which is “m” for the father and “n” for the son. Jehoiashin became the king of Judah at a time when it was defenseless and unable to offer resistance to the army of Nebuchadnezzar who had beseiged it. Jehoiachin had been king for only a mere 3 month and 10 days when Nebuchadnezzar came against them and in a short time he surrendered. He and his queen mother, along with their servants and officers, were carried off to Babylon where they were put in prison for 37 years.

Now the second king comes into view. He is known as Evil-merodach and he succeeded Nebuchadnezzar after his death. When Evil-merodach took the reigns of the mighty Babylonian empire, one of the first things he did was to set Jehoiachin free. We have no way of knowing if there were others who received like treatment or if he was the only prisoner king. In any regard, Evil-merodach set Jehoiachin free and graciously provided for his needs in a most generous way, which is described for us in detail in our scripture passage.

Having set Jehoiachin free from prison, Evil-merodach also established again his throne, gave him good clothes to wear and a daily provision of food for as long as Jehoiachin lived. Now if that is not a beautiful picture of grace, I fail to understand the purpose of God sharing this passage with us. If grace is not depicted, then I must have failed to understand grace.

Yet, if we want a greater insight into grace as it is portrayed in this passage, we need to now do some exploring of the meaning of their names. Most Bible names have very informative meanings. Therefore it is very important for us to now understand both the setting or situation and the names of those involved. The name Jehoiachin means Jehovah (God) has appointed. So Jehoiachin represents those that are appointed by God. In the Bible the word appointed has a number of meanings but the second is to choose. This can be understood from 2 Samuel 15:15, which reads, "And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint (choose)." Whatever the king chooses to do, they were willing and ready to obey. Based upon this definition of appoint, we may understand that Jehoaichin is symbolic of all whom God has appointed or chosen in His eternal covenant of grace.

Now consider the meaning of the name Evil-merodach. On the surface it seems to describe an evil person, but by his actions which are described in the scripture passage, we do not see him in that light. As we look deeper, we discover that the prefix Evil as used in his name does not mean sinful, crooked or bad; but actually meant "the man of." Ancient prefixes gave added meaning to the name which followed. One that perhaps we are more familiar with is Bar-Jonah, which was the name of a man we know also as Peter. Peter was called Simon Bar-Jonah in Matthew 16:17. After Peter had boldly asserted that Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus said, "Blessed art thou, Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood bath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." The Bar-Jonah meant Son of Jonah as stated in John 21:15, 16 & 17. So the prefix Bar means "son of." The same is seen in regard to blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46. Even so the prefix of Evil meant - the man of and Evil-merodach is the man of Merodach.

Now what about the rest of the name Merodach? According to my references it meant bold. But it was interesting for me to discover that Merodach was also the name of a god. It was not at all uncommon for ancient peoples to regard their rulers as gods or extensions and offsprings of them. The Babylonians called their idol “god of war” by the name of Merodach. Listen to Jeremiah 50:2, which says, "Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces." As we put together the pieces of this name it appears to have meant "the man-of a god." While no one can ever be compared to Jesus, the name Evil-merodach seems now to call our attention to Him for Jesus was God in a body of flesh. Jesus is the God-man or the Son of God. On this earth, Jesus was a man, for Paul was inspired to write, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). While it is true that He "was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7), it is equally true that "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). Paul wrote again to say, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached into the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (1 Timothy 3:16). Perhaps we can now understand why the angel called Jesus "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:23). Jesus is therefore the God-man and Evil-merodach seems to have pointed our mind toward Him.

Yet there is more to associate the two together. I was amazed to discover that Evil-merodach reigned only a short period of three years (562-560 B.C.), which seems to correspond to the three year ministry of our Lord Jesus. Here is another point of similarity, Evil-merodach was murdered by a man named Neriglissan, who wanted his throne. Even so, our Lord was killed by one who wanted his throne - satan. Mens hearts may have hated Him and men's hands nailed Him to the tree, but satan was the instigator of it all. Our Lord was not executed, for He had committed no crime; He was murdered, which is what happens when the innocent are killed unjustly.

With all those similarities, there is still more to be seen in our scripture passage. I want us now to look at some points of comparison between the actions of Evil-merodach and those of our Lord, as we consider this picture of grace.

(1) First emancipation is to be seen in the lesson. Emancipation is a sovereign setting free the prisoners of another. We were all the prisoners of satan, sin and death; but Jesus set us free because He is the sovereign of all the universe. This was beautifully prophesied of when the psalmist said, "The Lord looseth the prisoners" (Psalm 146:7). Again we read of Jesus in the prophetic words of Isaiah when he wrote, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isaiah 61:1). In Luke 4:21, Jesus made it indisputably clear that the prophecy was of Him. He set us free and "Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: The snare is broken, and we are escaped" (Psalm 146:7). We are free in the fullest sense of the word. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). Jesus has set us free from the penalty of sin by His death on the cross. This was done in the past, now He makes us free from the power of sin (Romans 6:14) and one glorious day in the future, He will return and we shall be made free from the presence of sin.

Just as Evil-merodach set free the prisoner of Nebuchadnezzar, Jehoiachin; even so Jesus Christ has set free the prisoners of satan. As Jehoichin represented those appointed or chosen by Jehovah; even so the elect of God, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) are set free by Jesus as the God-man. We are free and ever shall be, free now to serve Him as our Lord and Saviour (1 Peter 2:16).

The second lesson is set forth by the fact that Evil-merodach spoke kindly to Jehoiachin. Not only did he set him free, but he also showed him kindness. I lean toward the idea that his words of kindness were the conversation by which he told Jehoiachin that his throne was set up again. Something very similiar has happened to us, for we have received the kind words of Jesus through the message of the word of God. He has spoken to our hearts to tell us that we have a throne, for we are kings also. Peter describes the saved as "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9); which means that we are not only priests with access to God, but we are also kings who are to rule well under God. After John stated the fact that Jesus cleansed us from sin by His blood; he said, "and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (Revelation 1:6). God has entrusted to us the position of kings and set up a throne that we may reign over the domain of our lives and bodies. If we reverence Him and yield to His sovereign authority over us, then we shall reign in such a manner as to bring glory to Him. Ancient rulers sometimes returned captive kings to their lands, to rule their people, but usually under the umbrella of their greater power. Even so, we have been set up above other kings and kingdoms of the world, for we are part of the kingdom of God.

(3) The third lesson to be considered is stated in verse 29. The first part of the verse informs us that his prison garments were taken away and he was given fresh clothes to wear. We cannot begin to imagine the filth of ancient prisons. nor the stink that was captured in the dirty old clothes that were worn by prisoners. It must have been tremendously refreshing to have them replaced by fresh, new apparel. In our natural state of depravity and sin, we were more dirty and stinking to God than Jehoiachin would have been to us. Isaiah described mans natural condition in sin saying, "But we were all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). It sounds to me like we were wearing dirty prison rags before grace touched us. Like Joshua, we too stood before the Lord, clothed with filthy garments. As God took away his filthy garments, He caused his iniquity to pass and clothed him with a fresh change of raiment (Zechariah 3:1-4). God has done the same for us by His amazing grace. Notice that He did not offer him the garments, for salvation is not offered conditional upon the sinners accepting. In salvation God changes the garments for us, taking our sins and giving them to Jesus, then putting on us a robe of righteousness which was imparted to us from Christ (Isaiah 61:10). Evil-merodach changed the prison garments for Jehoiachin and Jesus has changed us. Oh, praise His holy name!

(4) The fourth and final point to be made is the fact that Evil-merodach provided food for Jehoiachin. While I am rather certain that a well balanced diet of a variety of foods were provided, the scriptures mention only bread. Yet in the Old Testament it basically meant sustenance which likely involved all foods needed to sustain life. When Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4); I understand Him to be saying that we need more than mere natural food, we also need the spiritual food of the word of God. Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) which meant to ask for our necessary or sufficient food.

Since bread is the food mentioned, I cannot help but feel that it was designed to draw our minds to Jesus. He said of Himself, "I am that bread of life" (John 6:48). Again He said, "This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he that eateth of this bread shall life forever" (John 6:58). Therefore Jesus is the nourishment which our soul needs and those who by grace are made partakers of Him, shall live forever with Him in heaven. Because Jehoiachin received a daily allowance for as long as he lived, we are able to conclude that Jesus not only saved us, but keeps us always, so that we can never be lost again. Jude declared that Jesus is able to keep us from falling and to one day present us faultless before His presence (Jude 24). Therefore we may share the confidence which Paul expressed, saying, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

None of us can fully understand the prison life of those ancient times for it is so drastically different from prisons today. They were deprived not only of freedom, but usually of any kindness and were without adequate clothes or food. As horrible as the experience of Jehoiachin might have been, it was nothing compared to the eternal sufferings we would have endured, were it not for the deliverance our God-man (Jesus) has given us. Thank God for His Son and praise be to Jesus for the things He has done. He has loved us and saved us, let us love and serve Him, as our most gracious God. May the picture of grace found in the Old Testament, stir deeply the very souls of us New Testament saints, moving us to be doers of the word (James 1:22). Let us do more and more deeds that will bring glory to His name, as we rejoice in that which He has done for our eternal glory.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014