The setlist is complete, the lead singer has thanked the crowd for coming, and the band has exited the stage. But the house lights remain off, the stage lights have been left shining, and a few of the group’s biggest hits have mysteriously been left unplayed. As concertgoers, we know what all of this means: an encore is coming. All we have to do is stand up and applaud like wild. After a minute or two, the band will retake the stage and deliver those missing hits.
Here at the end of Kings, God Himself is signaling for an encore of sorts. It would seem the story is over. The people of Judah, like Israel before them, have been marched out of the promised land in shame. Jerusalem’s walls have been demolished, and the temple has been destroyed. “So Judah went into exile from its land” (2 Kings 25:21).
But in the midst of this apparent and heart-wrenching finality, God set the stage for another act in the story of redemption. “On the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month of the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Judah’s King Jehoiachin, in the year Evil-merodach became king of Babylon, he pardoned King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison” (v.27). A king of Judah—a descendant of David—is alive and well. There is a spark of hope flickering in the darkness. The spark isn’t much, of course, but it signaled to ancient readers—and us—that God stands ready to fan it into a flame.
Reading the books of 1 and 2 Kings this side of the New Testament, we know that God did not abandon His people. He brought them back from Babylon, and He fulfilled every Old Testament promise through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). We know that the Son of God died to conquer sin and death and that through Him, eternal life is available to any and all who believe—not just to the physical descendants of Abraham but also to people from every nation under heaven.
We know all this because we have the benefit of hindsight. But God is just as faithful even when we don’t have this benefit. In our current struggles and doubts, God has left us a spark of hope. Actually, He’s left us a bonfire of epic proportions. In His Word, He has promised to make all things new (Revelation 21:5), and to work all things for our good, if we have placed our trust in Him (Romans 8:28–29). Those are not promises of health, wealth, or comfort. In fact, Jesus was very clear when He promised we’d have trouble in this world (John 16:33). But we can rest in God, because He is faithful. No matter how dark things may seem, the story of redemption will not end until His children are safe at home with Him. The encore is coming, and we have yet to hear the best songs.
Written by John Greco