No one will achieve perfection in this life, but God is a God of surprising mercy with large plans.
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. May 2023 data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that roughly 15 percent of adults in the United States suffer regularly from feelings of worry, nervousness, anxiety, or depression. The World Health Organization in June 2021 reported that 1.3 percent of all deaths worldwide were suicides, and that among those aged 15–29 suicide is the fourth most common cause of death. While worldwide suicide rates have declined during the last 20 years, the suicide rate increased by 17 percent in the Americas.
However, Christians, despite these sad figures, are to be full of joy (Galatians 5:22), peace (Psalm 119:165), and confidence, “which has 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—and 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 6:4–6). But His desire 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.” 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 and further away from God. Sadly, the Western world today is continuing to move 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 continually reject Him (cf. Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
The young king lived during a time when his nation was on the edge of economic collapse, which should remind us of recent U.S. political wrangling over the “debt ceiling” and risk of national default. His nation also faced overwhelming military challenges, and today, the Western world faces growing threats on many fronts. The U.S. Chief of Space Operations, General Bradley Saltzman, told reporters in February 2023 that China is now the “most challenging threat” and that the U.S. is “seeing a whole mix of weapons being produced by our strategic competitors.” With the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the U.S. is losing its once-unchallenged position of political and military dominance, as China steps in to fill the void. More than a decade ago, Britain chose to store a large part 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 ruled Judah only briefly—from 598–597 BC—and he was soon be overthrown by Nebuchadnezzar’s mighty Babylonian army (2 Kings 24:8; 2 Chronicles 36:9–10). Jehoiachin lost his throne and his nation. His nation’s economy collapsed. His kingdom was destroyed and his people were slaughtered. He and his family were 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 the region in December of 598 BC, and they captured Jerusalem on March 16, 597 BC. 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 is that God ensured that Jehoiachin would continue in royal status as the legitimate heir to the throne of Judah. This is reflected by the fact that Ezekiel dates his writings from the year of Jehoiachin’s exile and not of Mattaniah’s ascension (cf. Ezekiel 1:1–3).
Why did God uphold Jehoiachin in all these ways? He was fulfilling His purpose, as the Messiah was legally to be considered part of the line of Jehoiachin, descendant of King Solomon. Notice that Jehoiachin, or “Jeconiah,” is listed in Matthew’s legal genealogy 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 the 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 Almighty, who upholds those whom He has called for His purpose. If God upheld Jehoiachin for His purpose, then He surely will uphold those in whom He works to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
[Editor's Note: The print edition of this article states that the Babylonian Chronicle says Nebuchadnezzar entered "Palestine" in December of 598 BC. Some readers were understandably concerned that the word "Palestine" was perhaps being used to refer to Israel or Judea, which goes against the policy of this magazine. However, this is not the case. The ancient cuneiform tablet states that Nebuchadnezzar had entered the land of the "Hatti" at that time, meaning portions of Turkey and Syria, north of Israel and Judea (as the article notes, Nebuchadnezzar did not get to Jerusalem for another three months). Still, while we avoid using "Palestine" to refer to Israel or Judea, the use of the word was still an error, since "Palestine" is not an accurate reference to that region in the northern part of the Levant. We apologize for our error and have corrected it in this online version of the article.]