The world is in turmoil. In the face of continuing dire global news, and perhaps even hard personal trials, do you worry that you lack the strength to confidently—even joyfully—face the days ahead? Depression and anxiety are very real problems. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, one in ten adults in the United States suffers from depression. According to a recent World Health Organization study, nearly a million people each year commit suicide worldwide, and the suicide rate has increased by 60 percent in the last 45 years.
Christians, however, are to be full of joy (Galatians 5:22), peace (Psalms 119:165) and confidence, “which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). Yet there are many reasons why people despair. Some suffer from physiological conditions. Others have been victims of trauma. Some are paralyzed by the regret of sin. Still others are simply overwhelmed by life’s trials. What about you? How can you have joy and confidence in the years ahead?
Christians, having the Holy Spirit dwelling within, should not have a spirit of “fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Additionally, Jesus Christ tells us to not worry about our lives, but instead to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:25–33). Many are familiar with these admonitions, yet still doubt that they have the strength to endure and to prevail! Often, this doubt is the result of not feeling “good enough” for God to uphold us.
Certainly, where there is sin in our lives, we need to repent of it (Matthew 3:8; Revelation 2:22). Yet even the most righteous person still falls far short of perfection (Romans 3:23). Christians need to have confidence that, although we will all remain imperfect in this lifetime, it is God’s pleasure to complete the work that He has begun in us (Luke 12:32). Regardless of our imperfections—regardless of the calamities that are devouring the world around us—we can have the strength to prevail! If God has called us (John 6:44), and if we have answered His call (Acts 2:36–39), we will be diligently and repentantly seeking Him (2 Peter 3:18). And we can know that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
We can choose to forsake Him, and can even reject Christ’s sacrifice for us (Hebrews 6:6). But His will is never to forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)!
Do you ever doubt that you are “good enough” for God to uphold you through really perilous times? If so, consider the ancient and often-forgotten example of a man who lived through the destruction of his nation. This man was far from perfect, yet God upheld him for His purpose!
Jehoiachin lived thousands of years ago in ancient Judah. As a young king, he did “evil” during his reign (2 Kings 24:8–9). Yet, God upheld him to serve His purpose. In fact, Jehoiachin’s name means “The Lord will uphold.” And God would indeed be faithful to “uphold” Jehoiachin, making him a powerful example for us today.
Jehoiachin lived during calamitous times. His nation was turning further away from God. Sadly, the Western world today is continuing to move further away from a deep respect and awe of the Creator and His true ways. As the Bible repeatedly warns, God will bless people and nations who love and obey Him, and will curse those who continuously reject Him (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
Jehoiachin also lived during a time when his nation was on the edge of economic collapse. Similarly, today, influential economists warn that our world remains on the brink of economic meltdown, and the U.S. remains at risk of falling into another and potentially more damaging recession (CNNMoney, February 24, 2012).
Jehoiachin saw his nation face overwhelming military challenges. Today, the Western world faces growing threats on many fronts. For example, the U.S. Army general who runs the Defense Intelligence Agency has warned that China is preparing for space wars, and is developing technology to destroy U.S. navigation, communications and intelligence satellites (The Washington Free Beacon, February 23, 2012). And NASA recently announced that hackers broke into its computer systems 13 times last year, including one attack in which “hackers working through a Chinese-based IP address broke into the network of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory” and temporarily “gained full system access” to “mission-critical” JPL computers (Reuters, March 2, 2012)! Meanwhile, because of budget strains, Britain is exploring the prospect of storing large parts of its tank force in Germany—a continuing fulfillment of Hosea 7:11 in which modern Ephraim (Britain) is portrayed as a “silly dove” putting her trust in foreign powers (including “Assyria,” identified in prophecy as modern-day Germany)!
Jehoiachin inherited a kingdom in revolt. He would rule Judah only briefly—from 598–597bc—and he would soon be overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar’s mighty Babylonian army (2 Kings 24:8; 2 Chronicles 36:9–10). Jehoiachin would lose his throne and his nation. His nation’s economy would collapse. His kingdom would be destroyed, and his people would be slaughtered. He and his family would be taken captive to Babylon, where torture or even execution could await them. For Jehoiachin, all may have seemed hopeless. Yet, his name meant, “The Lord will uphold”—and the Lord did uphold Jehoiachin for His purpose!
According to the Babylonian Chronicle, Nebuchadnezzar’s armies entered Palestine in December of 598bc, and they captured Jerusalem on March 16, 597bc. The Babylonians plundered the city, and took Jehoiachin and his family captive. Nebuchadnezzar placed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Mattaniah, on the throne of Jerusalem—renaming him Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:12–17).
Despite this turmoil, and even during a time of national collapse and captivity, God upheld imperfect Jehoiachin. The Babylonian Chronicle refers to Jehoiachin as “Yaukin” and records special rations of expensive food provided to him and to his family. And of far greater importance—as is reflected by the fact that Ezekiel dates his writings from the year of Jehoiachin’s exile and not of Mattaniah’s ascension—God ensured that Jehoiachin would continue in royal status as the legitimate heir to the throne of Judah!
Why did God uphold Jehoiachin in all these ways? He was fulfilling His purpose, as the Messiah was to come through the line of Jehoiachin. Notice, it is Jehoiachin and his descendants who are listed in Matthew’s genealogy as the ancestors of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:11–12)! Herein lies the lesson. God will “uphold” those whom He chooses.
One lesson from Jehoiachin’s life is that God has the power to uphold us for His purpose, regardless of dangers or trials we may face! Jehoiachin was an imperfect man, yet God upheld him for His purpose. Today, God calls imperfect people to receive His Holy Spirit, after repentance and baptism, to overcome human nature and to put on the “new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Christians show God their love for Him through their obedience to Him (1 John 5:3).
Prophecy reveals that the modern Western nations will endure societal trials of increasing severity. Increased personal trials will also come. Yet, no matter the challenge Christians may face, we can endure, because we have access to unimaginable strength—the strength of the Lord God who upholds those whom He has called for His purpose! If God would uphold Jehoiachin for His purpose, then He surely will uphold those in whom He works to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)!