Just: “guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness; done or made according to principle; given or awarded rightly; deserved, as a sentence; in accordance with standards or requirements; (especially in Biblical use) righteous.”
Merciful: “full of mercy: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassion, pity, or benevolence; something that gives evidence of divine favor.”
Consider His Just and Merciful Judgment
King Jehoiachin (also referred to as Jeconiah and Coniah), grandson of good King Josiah, was evil and only reigned three months before he was taken captive by the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:8-12). He was not executed as his uncle, King Zedekiah, but he was held thirty-seven years in exile.
Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison; (25:27).
The scene is graphic, the siege horrifying, and the cruelty describing Zedekiah’s plight is gruesome. The last sight he was to ever see would be the slaughtering of his own sons before he was tortuously blinded and taken away in fetters. Does not sound merciful. Except when we consider he had been warned repeatedly with exact details of the impending penalties if he persisted in his rebellious and evil ways.
Now at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the house of the king of Judah, 3 because Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it; 4 and Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but he will surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5 and he will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him,” declares the Lord, (Jeremiah 32:2-5).
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire. 3 You will not escape from his hand, for you will surely be captured and delivered into his hand; and you will see the king of Babylon eye to eye, and he will speak with you face to face, and you will go to Babylon,’” (Jeremiah 34:2-3).
Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘If you will indeed go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then you will live, this city will not be burned with fire, and you and your household will survive. 18 But if you will not go out to the officers of the king of Babylon, then this city will be given over to the hand of the Chaldeans; and they will burn it with fire, and you yourself will not escape from their hand,’” (Jeremiah 38:17-18).
I will also spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. And I will bring him to Babylon in the land of the Chaldeans; yet he will not see it, though he will die there. (Ezekiel 12:13).
And subsequently, King Jehoiachin is also described in his rebellion: “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done,” (2 Kings 24:9). And there would be consequences.
“As I live,” declares the Lord, “even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; 25 and I will give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. 26 I will hurl you and your mother who bore you into another country where you were not born, and there you will die,” (Jeremiah 22:24-26).
And even worse.
“Is this man Coniah a despised, shattered jar?
Or is he an undesirable vessel?
Why have he and his descendants been hurled out
And cast into a land that they had not known?
29 “O land, land, land,
Hear the word of the Lord!
30 “Thus says the Lord,
‘Write this man down childless,
A man who will not prosper in his days;
For no man of his descendants will prosper
Sitting on the throne of David
Or ruling again in Judah,’” (Jeremiah 22:28-30).
The NIV Study Bible notes on Jeremiah 22:30 expounds on this fact of the Lord’s judgment:
“…childless: Not in the sense of Jehoiachin’s having no children at all (he had at least seven; see 1 Chronicles 3:17–18), but of having none to sit on the throne of David in Judah. Jehoiachin’s grandson, Zerubbabel (1 Chr 3:17-19, Matt 1:12) became governor of Judah (see Hag 1:1) but not king. Zedekiah was a son of Josiah not of Jehoiachin (see Jeremiah 37:1) and he and his sons died before the latter (see Jeremiah 52:10-11). Jehoiachin was therefore Judah’s last surviving king – until Christ.”
And the dynasty comes to a tragic end, as King Jehoiachin is the last king from David’s family to sit on the throne of Judah.
So why was such kindness ultimately offered to one so persistent in his rejection and rebellion against Holy God? We do not know the reasoning behind the king of Babylon in his decision to display such compassion. But Jehoiachin’s life was spared and, even more, he was treated kindly. And although there would be no earthly king or kingdom to follow him in Judah, the family line would still continue.
Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison; 28 and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes and had his meals in the king’s presence regularly all the days of his life; 30 and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life, (25:27-30).
And in God’s Just Judgment, His Mercy is made manifest, exactly as He had said.
[spoken to David] “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
And in His Just and Merciful Judgment, He would fulfill His promise to establish the throne of David’s Descendant, forever.
David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah. 7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa. 8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah. 9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. 10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah. 11 Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.12 After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. 13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. 14 Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. 15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah, (Matthew 1:6-16).
And Jesus, the Messiah, would come to both accept God’s Just Judgment for our sins and extend His Mercy to all who would but place their faith in Him.
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith…(Romans 3:24-25).
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people, (Hebrews 2:17).
How do we respond to His Just and Merciful Judgment?
We must receive, through faith, the atoning sacrifice of the blood of Jesus to pay the debt we can never pay as payment for our sins.
They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith… (Romans 3:24-25 HCSB).
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life, (Titus 3:4-7).
And when we have been spared His Just Judgment through faith in Jesus and made heirs by His grace according to the hope of eternal life, let us follow His example to be Merciful, that others might also be drawn in their desire to receive His Mercy.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy,” (Matthew 5:7).
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” (Luke 6:36-5-36).
And may we never forget His Mercy that spared us His Just Judgment, so that we might always be ready to share the hope we have in Christ.
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (1 Peter 3:16-5).
May we always remember that His Mercy triumphs over Judgment. Let us never forget we rightly deserve His Just Judgment, and it is His kindness that led us to repentance. May we never forget who we once were as we daily seek to be an example of His Mercy in Jesus, that He might use us to win a world in desperate need of His Salvation.
But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:3-4).
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light, (Ephesians 5:8).
…mercy triumphs over judgment, (James 2:13).