Today's devotion from 2 Chronicles 36.
The last stages of Judah's decline was not exactly climactic. In many ways, it seems simply to stem from a continuation of old habits. The king strayed. The people strayed. At this point, what did it matter if the king was merely a puppet figurehead positioned by a foreign power? Infidelity is infidelity.
It appears that the proverbial last straw, was in the fact that the people came to a place where they just could not or would listen to God. Verse 15 indicates that God was persistent in sending His word to them by messengers. His choice to pursue them was not based on their worthiness, but on His compassion. However, not only did they refuse to listen, but they openly mocked the messengers, "despising his words and scoffing at his prophets."
The day had finally come when God's compassion and patience led Him to the next, inevitable step...wrath. Once begun, this stage would be painful.
Jerusalem was captured and portions of it destroyed. The people were treated severely. For seventy years, their was little hope for the previous inhabitants of Jerusalem. While little, there was still hope. As we continue through the Bible, we will encounter some messengers of that hope. However, in conclusion to the chronicler's account, he steadfastly refuses to leave us in exile.
Even as he has recorded the downfall of this once blessed people, he cannot help but to lead us into a confrontation with hope through the decree of Cyrus. God would once again prove His sovereignty by using a pagan king to begin the process of rebuilding His people and their land. However, more importantly, this restoration would lead to that most blessed of events in human history when Christ Jesus became flesh to dwell among us.
You see, it's just almost impossible to be completely absent of hope in the story of God. As long as He exists, hope will remain. No matter where we find ourselves in the arch of Scripture, we find the fingerprint of God and some amount of hope. Regardless of where you are today in His story, be encouraged and remember to look for hope.