Today’s reading proved sad, as the focus of the text (2 Kings 16-18) saw the continued resistance of God’s sovereignty in the Northern Kingdom known as Israel. Ultimately, we saw the defeat and ultimate exile of the Hebrew people by the Assyrian army. They resisted the sovereignty of Divine leadership and paid the final price of rebellion. God could no longer endure another breaking of His covenant with a nation that He promised so much, in exchange for devotion. “I will lead you. Trust in me.” At first, they followed, and all was well. But one by one each king dishonored God by breaking the vow made at the beginning of the journey.
I picture images of a nation which held high prominence in the world, reduced to ashes and rubble. I imagine sadness as the chosen people of the Most-High God, are now prisoners left without protection. I can see the darkness come over them as they marched into the area of Assyrian control, only to start a new life, in a new place, with gods that were opposed to what the knew as of right. Their society was no more.
As we start Holy Week next week, I can’t help but think that the sick feeling the Hebrews had must have been eerily similar in the hearts and souls of the followers of Jesus. Their Messiah was murdered leaving their faith in shatters. How could they sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? There would never be a return to the normal that they used to know. And so, for three days the disciples walked in darkness. The Romans destroyed the leader of their society. Maybe they would go back to their way of life, but nothing would ever be the same.
We know the ends of both of the stories. In the Hebraic text, the Assyrian king releases the Hebrew people with many returning to the land. God steps in to call them back into covenant. The way back was painful, but a new reserve to follow the laws of the Holy One of Israel rebuilt the faith. Life never was the same, and perhaps a new normal gave way to another approach to being in the world.
There are times that we feel lost in our struggles. God’s presence seems like a distant memory. Praise be to God, our story does not end there, but after the discovery of the resurrected Christ. The man who worked miracles in human souls continues to lead us out of captivity and bondage to restore us to our holy land — a community which guards us and guides us. Without a doubt, we can stand up and say, “Hallelujah! We are a blessed people because the Lord, Our God, goes before us and strengthens us. Amen.”