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November 12, 2012, 10:51 AM

Hidden Prison

            At the end of 2 Kings a sad story is told. The nation of Judah has finally fallen to the Babylonians. The city is burned to the ground, many people are killed, the king Jehoiachin and all the leaders have been taken into captivity while the poorest of the poor are left to farm the land and pay tribute to the Babylonians. When Jehoiachin arrives in Babylon he is immediately thrown into prison. He was robbed of all position and power, dressed in prison garb and for the next 37 years languishes in prison. But then something happens. Nebuchadnezzar dies and Evil-merodach (what were his parents thinking naming him that?) becomes king. And listen what he does for Jehoiachin. “Evil-merodach was good to Jehoiachin, and he gave Jehoiachin an honorary throne that was higher than all the thrones of the other kings held captive in Babylon. Jehoiachin removed his prison garments and put on new clothes. He ate his meals with the king every day for the rest of his life. The king also gave him a stipend on a daily basis for the rest of his life.” 2 Kings 25:28-30.

            Sounds pretty good right? Removed from prison, given new clothes, given a new title, eating with the king and even given an allowance for the rest of his life. How fortunate for Jehoiachin! No more prison, no more captivity, finally power and prestige have been restored. How blessed...or is he? Read more carefully, he was no longer in prison walls, but neither was he free to return to the life he had as king of Israel. Yes he had the highest title, but only of the captive kings. That’s like being valedictorian of a class of one, totally empty and meaningless. Yes he eats with the king, the one who has the real power and who refuses to let him go home again. Yes he gets a daily allowance, but what a joke compared to the riches he had as king. What a horrible trade for Jehoiachin. He is still in prison, even though things look a lot nicer than they had for the past 37 years. Perhaps even worse is that this new prison seemed like freedom to Jehoiachin after all he had been through. He’d been a prisoner so long that he had forgotten what freedom tasted like, and for the rest of his days until he died he lived what looked like a life of luxury, but in reality was a prison. What a horribly sad story!

            We know something about Jehoiachin’s story though, do we not? We are in prison on this world, broken by our sin, stripped of our power and position locked away. We know this and feel it, but then one day something crazy happens. Freedom is offered. We can join the world and get titles and prestige, money and authority, we can be free. But it is an illusion. Our titles are meaningless, our “freedom” is still enslavement, our money can not buy us free. Yet we’ve been in prison so long this pseudo-freedom looks so promising we buy into it and devote our lives to it. Thinking we’ve found freedom, while real freedom remains outside our grasp.

            Don’t buy into this lie, especially at this time of the year when it will be peddled to you so vigorously. Real freedom is not found in anything this world has to offer, no matter how shiny or nicely it is packaged. This world is a prison, and all it offers is dust. Remember that real freedom is found in only one thing, and that thing is a person, Jesus. Real freedom, that breaks the bonds of sin and brokenness, that redeems and restores our soul can’t be bought, only accepted by grace through faith in Jesus. Real freedom is freedom from needing titles and power, and intimately knowing the one with all the titles and power, and being loved by Him. In this holiday season, this prison all around us will be decorated and made to look glorious, but don’t be fooled. Remember where real freedom is found, look to the cross.

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