The Deep Well with Erin Davis Podcast

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Episode 2: When a Nation Experiences an Eclipse

Laura Booz: Erin, this whole season is about eclipses, right? In the first episode I said I remember an eclipse from 2017. From my vantage point in Pennsylvania, this eclipse was built up for weeks and weeks.

Every headline, every new source was talking about how to see it, where to see it, why to see it. We were so excited! I mean, we just stopped everything. We were out on that lawn for hours ahead of time. We made snacks that looked like the sun, snacks that looked like the moon; it was a really big deal!

But from where we stood in our front yard in Pennsylvania, nothing really seemed to happen. It was completely underwhelming! There we were—the sun was just as bright as anything—and we’re looking through these little ocular devices. And we’re like, “Uh, well, we think we see a little speck of darkness.”

And it was such a good reminder to me of how in our day and age, we can build up the darkness so much: “It’s coming, it’s coming! It’s getting darker and darker, and you should be very afraid, and you should really revere this darkness!”

And yet, in comparison to God’s glory and light, it’s just this little speck. And at the end of things, it’s going to have been completely underwhelming! And that gives me so much hope!

Erin Davis: You got it! Me, too! I mean, that’s it. That’s the whole enchilada for what we’re talking about in this season. I have a bit of a pet peeve: I used to be a high school History teacher (so I don’t know everything about history, but I have an idea for the scope of history). 

When I hear people say, “Oh, this is the worst it’s ever been!” or “Things are getting worse!” or “It’s such a dark time in history!” or romanticizing previous eras . . . That’s probably more where I hear it, as if it were all light and life, and nothing bad happened in the fifties.

Then I’m thinking, You need to go take a history class, because the darkness has been present! It waxes and it wanes, much like the phases of the moon or the phases in an eclipse. But at the end of the day, at the end of our lives, at the end of eternity, certainly; it’s going to look more like that little speck that you and your family could barely perceive. The light of Christ, the Light of the World, is going to shine so much brighter!

Laura: Yes! Welcome! This is The Deep Well, with Erin Davis. This season is all about eclipses, about light and dark, and today you will get hope when you feel like your nation or your culture or your family is overwhelmed by darkness.

No matter how bad things feel, remember, God is in control, and He is the Light of the World! Here’s Erin to explain.

Erin: I was a freshman in high school in 1994. (I’ll save you from doing the math. I’m forty-one.) In my small town high school, everybody got to go outside and watch a solar eclipse that year. That’s when the moon passes between the earth and the sun, and it either totally or partially obscures the sun, so it became dark in the middle of the day.

It was fascinating! I remember being fascinated by it. I remember where I was sitting on the sidewalk. I remember thinking, This is so cool, and I’m glad I’m not in class right now! But here’s the deal: you’re not supposed to look directly at the sun ever—including during a solar eclipse. 

So in science class that week, we all created a safe viewing screen of sorts. You poke a hole in a piece of paper and you’re supposed to watch the eclipse through that. I don’t remember, but I can’t imagine that very many of us actually used our paper viewers to watch the solar eclipse, because something was happening and we wanted to see it . . . even if it burned our retinas!

Well, there's an application for the text in the Bible we’re going to look at in this episode. We’re going to be in 2 Kings 24–25 as we continue a series called “Eclipses.”These are moments in Scripture where an eclipse of sorts happened (not actually in the sky, it’s metaphorical); but these are moments it seemed like the darkness was going to overtake the light.

You don’t even need any special viewing goggles. I don’t want you to filter this at all, and you might be tempted to! I want you to look at these verses head on, because I believe they give us hope for the moment we’re living in right now. I want to pray for you as you listen.

Jesus, I pray for the women listening to this podcast right now. I pray that through these next few moments, only by the power of Your Word and Your Holy Spirit, Lord, You would show them something that gives them hope in the darkness. It’s in Your name I pray, amen.

One of my goals for TheDeep Well is to teach you to follow the thread of a theme or an idea or a phrase. I want you to learn to look for things throughout all of Scripture. And together, I want us to train ourselves to see what God says in His whole Word about all kinds of different things.

So here’s a thread for us to trace together; let’s look for it in 2 Kings 24:9. Scripture says this:

And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done.

I know that probably doesn’t mean anything to you, taken out of context like that, so let me fill in a couple of knowledge gaps. 

The “he” here is Jehoiachin, and his father referenced in this verse is Jehoiakim. One ends with an “n,” one ends with an “m.” So, “And he [Jehoiachin] did what was evil in the sight of the Lord according to all his father [Jehoiakim] had done.” Both Jehoiakim and Jehoiachin reigned during the period of the judges. You find that in 1 and 2 Kings . . . and 1 and 2 Chronicles.

God’s people, the nation of Israel, wanted a king. They cried out to God for a king, because all of the people around them had kings. But all of the people around them were pagans who did not worship the one, true God.

And so one of themes we see in Scripture, in these books, is that God will often give us over to what we want if it makes us more acutely aware of what we really need. If you skim the books of 1 and 2 Kings looking for the phrase, “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord,” you’re going to find it plenty. In fact, I found it attached to twenty-four kings!

Put that in real time. Try to imagine if twenty-four of our Presidents here in the United States, in their bio it said, “And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Really, as I was looking at 1 and 2 Kings again for this series, I realized, “This is a treatise on bad leadership!” And not just failed policy, but failed morality.

And there was a trickle down—and a trickle up—moral economics happening throughout this period of Israel’s history. God’s people were willing to tolerate unrighteous leaders, and those unrighteous leaders led them to tolerate sin and idolatry in their own lives. And that was where the real eclipse happened, that’s where darkness really entered in.

It wasn’t the dramatic events that we read about in 2 Kings 24 and 25. It was the dramatic tendency to sin by God’s people! John chapter 3, verse 19, says this:

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

An eclipse happens when something comes between us and God, and that’s what kept happening with the people of God. They kept choosing the darkness; they kept choosing sin; they kept choosing to worship false gods that couldn’t save them from anything.

And despite many warnings and many opportunities to turn from their sin—over and over, and over and over, and over and over and over and over—the kings did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. And over and over, so did God’s children.

What we’ll see in 2 Kings 24 and 25 is the result when we love darkness, when we choose darkness instead of the light. What happens when a culture turns from God? What happens is that culture ends up in bondage, tied up by their own sin. I want you to open your Bible.

When you listen to TheDeep Well, I always want you to open your Bible. And today, I want you to open your Bible to 2 Kings 24. Here we find an eclipse of sorts. Now again, I don’t know what was happening in the sky, but I do know from the text what was happening in the lives of the people of God. 

This was a dark moment in the history of God’s people. At first glance (maybe even at second or third glance) it seems like the darkness overtook the light. Let me read us 2 Kings 24:10–12: 

At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged.

And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign.

This was bad! The king gave himself over to an enemy tyrant, seemingly without a fight. He didn’t just “take one for the team.” He didn’t just give himself to King Nebuchadnezzar to save his people—no! It was the king and the king’s mother and the king’s officials—all of them—given over to Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. But it gets worse!

Let me pick it up at verse 13:

. . . and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the Lord had foretold.

He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon. The king's mother, the king's wives, his officials, and the chief men of the land he took into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. 

And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,000, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,000, all of them strong and fit for war. And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah. (vv. 13–17)

This is Babylon Exile, Round 1. Let’s get to Round 2. We find it in 2 Kings 25:1–7. It happened eleven years later, and again Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem. He was a relentless tyrant!

And for two years, nothing got in and nothing got out. That’s what happens in a siege. So I want you to imagine making what is in your pantry—right this minute—last for two years! There’s probably a lot more in your pantry than there was in the pantry of the average family in Jerusalem. 

In chapter 25, verse 3, we read this:

On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.

There we see darkness, seemingly eclipsing the good gifts that God had promised for His people when He promised them this land. 

And verse 4, the king and his men made a break for it, but they didn’t get far. In verses 6–7, we pick it up:

Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.

And the darkness got darker! 

And the Lord turned His children—whom we know from Scripture He loves deeply, whom we know from Scripture that God had given great and beautiful promises, whom we know from Scripture that God had rescued again and again that He had cared for them—and He gave them over to the consequences of their culture of sin. 

In verse 9, one of Nebuchadnezzar’s officers burned down the house of the Lord, the temple where God’s people had worshipped Him for generations. Then they carried away the sacred objects within that temple, the ones that God’s people had so painstakingly built under the leadership of Solomon.

And then, listen—without a filter—to what happened in verses 13–17:

And the pillars of bronze that were in the house of the Lord, and the stands and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried the bronze to Babylon.

And they took away the pots and the shovels and the snuffers and the dishes for incense and all the vessels of bronze used in the temple service, the fire pans also and the bowls. What was of gold the captain of the guard took away as gold, and what was of silver, as silver.

So as I was reading that passage, I stumbled there on that sentence a few times, and I thought, What does that mean, what was as gold he took as gold, and what was of silver, he took as silver? I think what it means is that, to these armies that besieged Jerusalem, these objects were meaningless.

To them it was just treasure, the spoils of war. The items were no longer going to be used in worship; they were just metal, to become a currency. But that’s not what they are! God instructed His people to build these things and to use them in their relationship, their worship with Him. then they just got thrown on a cart, because they were silver and gold.

Verse 16 says,

As for the two pillars, the one sea, and the stands that Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these vessels was beyond weight. The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits . . .

If you’re wondering, a cubit is about the length from your fingertip to your elbow, so this was tall!

. . . and on it was a capital of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits. A latticework and pomegranates, all of bronze, were all around the capital. And the second pillar had the same, with the latticework. (v. 17)

These things might not mean a whole lot to you, but you need to know they were beautiful, and they were meaningful . . . and they were destroyed. I don’t want you to let the strange names and the unfamiliar geography of this passage put a distance between your heart and these verses. 

I think this would be like seeing all of the Bibles where we live, rounded up and carted away to be burned! These were evidences of a people set apart for God, a people loved by God, cared for by God, dedicated to God.

If we will let our hearts feel all that was happening in these verses, we will feel the eclipse that was happening—that darkness seemed to be overwhelming the light here. And if we keep reading, we’ll also see, it can always get darker.

Verses 18–19 say:

And the captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three keepers of the threshold; and from the city he took an officer who had been in command of the men of war, and five men of the king's council who were found in the city and the secretary of the commander of the army, who mustered the people of the land; and sixty men of the people of the land, who were found in the city.

And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took them and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon struck them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. So Judah was taken into exile out of its land. (vv. 18–20)

I want you to picture all the pastors, all the missionaries, your favorite Bible study leaders rounded up.

I want you to picture those senior saints whose faith in Jesus you emulate captured and slaughtered, like the priests of Israel, along with every military leader and every political leader. That’s what’s happening in this eclipse.

I want you to try to picture being a woman living in these days where your leaders have been taken and tortured, where the churches—the sacred places—are on fire! Where all the artifacts, all the symbols of your culture, have been taken. The musicians are gone, and the craftsmen are gone, and anyone fit enough for war has been taken!

I don’t know what the equivalent of the temple is for us—maybe it’s our church building where we attend—but imagine it burning and all of the physical symbols of who we are being destroyed and disregarded. This is a dark time! It feels unthinkable!

But the question for us to wrestle with as we read in 2 Kings is, “Is it?” Is it unthinkable for us to imagine our culture could choose leaders who do what is evil in the sight of the Lord? Is it unthinkable to imagine that we as a people could persist in rebellion and ignore the warning signs of God’s judgment?

Or do we know what it’s like to live in a culture in bondage to wrong beliefs about God and wrong allegiances and wrong excuses about sin . . . because that’s not contained to the pages of the Old Testament.

What we see here in 2 Kings is that sometimes God allows entire cultures, entire groupsof people, entire nations to experience bondage caused by collective sin and rebellion. And for me—and I hope for you—that’s a jarring realization!

I used to be a high school history teacher. On the first day of teaching high school history I had this great plan . . . that didn’t work out all that well. I had one of those pull-down maps (which I love, but they hardly exist anymore). I pulled down the map, and behind the map I had written this statement: “Those who fail to study history will be doomed to repeat it!”

On the first day of class, everybody came in and sat. I rolled down the map, and I unveiled that statement. I said, “I want you to write me an essay: what does this mean?” I would say easily eighty-five percent of my high school sophomores and juniors wrote, “If I don’t study for this class, I’m going to fail!” 

That was true, but I was hoping they were going to grasp something a little more philosophical, which is, that if we don’t study the patterns of the past, we’re bound to repeat the patterns of the past. 

When we study the Bible, I hope one of the lenses we look through is: if we don’t look at, take seriously, the mistakes of our fore-parents, if we don’t see those as a warning, then we’re going to repeat them! Second Kings 24 and 25 could keep us from being a culture in bondage to sin . . . if we’d read it, listen to it, take it to heart.

As I look around, our culture feels pretty dark. It’s easy to point fingers and look at the culture, but when I look at my own heart, I see the same thing. Like God’s people way back here in 2 Kings, there are times that I choose the darkness even though I have the light! So, what we see when we look at our whole Bibles is a God of judgment.

We see that because He is holy. Cultures that turn from Him can expect to end up in chains. But what we also see is that He is a God of grace, a God of restoration. The purpose of His judgment is to draw us back to Him.

When we are women of the Word, we respond differently to the darkness of the world. When we are women of the Word, we can operate as women of hope because we’re fully convinced—we’ve seen the evidence in the pages of our Bible—that God’s judgment is a means of grace.

When we’re fully convinced that God’s judgment is a means of grace, we keep praying as a means of resistance. We keep resisting the darkness and running toward the light, and we’re asking others to do the same. 

What happened with the eclipse in 2 Kings? What caused the darkness to start to recede? Well, you’ve got to finish the story! Just keep reading through 2 Kings chapter 25. I’ll pick it up at verse 27:

And 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, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon.

So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king's table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived. (vv. 27–30)

Here, in the same chapter of the same book where we read about this horrific exile, we get a glimpse of the light! God showed mercy to Jehoiachin—not because he deserved it—we already read that did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. But God showed mercy because He’s a God of mercy.

That king did experience darkness, he was in exile for thirty-seven years. But still, from his life we get this glimpse of who God is and what He does. What God did for Jehoiachin, God wants to do for all of His people!

And this is really not the end of the story. A day was coming (if you keep reading your Bibles) where all of the exiles would have the opportunity to come home. That dark period of exile in Babylon, it would end. But even that’s not the end of the story!

It points forward to another, better moment, when our darkness got pierced, where we get to see the light shine, even on our sin.

Laura: Well, I am really thankful for that lesson from 2 Kings! I haven’t read the book of 2 Kings in a long time, so this story was kind of fresh and new to me to wrap my mind around. I have some questions, and Erin is going to answer them. We are going to go to Erin Unscripted.

Erin Unscripted

Hey, Erin, I have not studied this extensively, but I do think Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were part of that exile in some way or another. The book of Daniel begins, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.” (Dan. 1:1)

Now, I’m so much more familiar with Daniel (and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) than the story in 2 Kings. So I’m wondering if we can talk about what Daniel and his friends did, what their lives looked like on the ground, during this exile.

Erin: I love that you’re making those connections! That’s what I hope all listeners of TheDeep Well do. And you’re right! Daniel was a young man when the exile began, and an old man when he got thrown into the lion’s den (which most of us don’t think of).

So this exile that we’re talking about here in 2 Kings, Daniel would have been one of those young men capable of fighting that were hauled off into a foreign country. And then it was in that foreign land that he experienced the Sunday school stories that we tell so often, of being thrown into the lion’s den and refusing to eat the king’s food. That all happened for Daniel in captivity.

Laura: Well, I flipped my Bible open to the book of Daniel, and I noticed even in Daniel 1:17 it says, “As for these four youths . . .” That’s Daniel and his three friends; you probably know them as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. “God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.”

There he was in the king’s court, right? What everyone else would think, This is a really bad time for Daniel and his friends and his people! What’s going to happen with this young generation?! And here we see God provide for these young men exactly what they needed when they needed it!

I know that this is a passion of yours as we look at the young men and women in the next generation. I just thought I would throw the ball in your court and ask you to talk about that subject: who are the “Daniels” in the next generation, and what do you hope for them as they walk into the future? 

Erin: You couldn’t have given me a better question! There’s no future of the Church; there’s just the Church. So whoever is in the Church right now, whoever is in Christ right now, whoever has given their life to Christ right now, they’re the Church! And God’s hope for them is the same as God’s hope for me. He’s giving them gifts just like He gave Daniel here.

And man! Sometimes I can sound like a grumpy, old lady here! Because that’s another pet peeve of mine, I guess, when we worry that the next generation—the generation behind us or the generation behind them—will be the one to drop the ball when it comes to living for God. And who knows that the next generation isn’t the one with Daniel in it, not my generation?

There’s a young woman that I’ve had in my mind that I wrote this season for (I don’t need to say her name; it wouldn’t mean anything to you). But she’s in her early twenties, and I wrote this whole season in the hopes that it would reach her heart and her mind. 

I do think that she sometimes lives with the sense that darkness is winning, and why be on the side of Christ? The voice of the culture is really, really loud in her ear. I hope that, like Daniel—who was even behind enemy lines, so to speak, even in a culture that is dark—she will live for God in the same way that Daniel did . . . even as an exile.

Laura: So Erin, let’s say we do live in a dark time in history, let’s say even the history books will say, “Yes, that was a dark time!” . . . how do you live? What are some actual, intentional, real-time choices that you are making to push back against that darkness and to walk as a child of light?

Erin: Probably because I love history, and because I’ve been a student of it, I’ve often wondered when I would read about maybe World War I or World War II, I would think, How did they just go on living their lives and getting married and having babies and eating dinner? A world war was going on! How did all that work?

And then, the past year-and-a-half, as I’ve lived through the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve thought often, “Oh, this is how you do it.” You just are in the middle of it and it affects you, but there are still dishes that need washed and people that need your attention, and you still need to eat and sleep.

So that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re living for the light, but there’s a difference between just living through dark times and living as a child of the light, which is what Scripture calls us to be. I heard a pastor just say this week that we are to be bearers of hope. Everywhere we go, we are to give hope away. We are to speak hope.

Early on in the pandemic, I kind of cued into the fact that I would sit around the table with my family or sit around the fire pit with my Christian friends six feet away. And we would just gripe, like everybody else was griping.

And I thought, Wait! We’re the ones with hope here! We’re the ones with the message that transcends all of this. We’re the ones that know how all of this ultimately ends. So I think it’s beating the same drums over and over: “hope” being one of them, “Jesus being the Light” another one, holding high the banner of God’s Word.

It’s like, “Guys! This [the Bible] is a history book, too!” And we see God on the right side of history over and over and over and over. And that’s not a pattern that’s going to end here. So it can sound so elementary I guess, but the only way I know to live as light—even in a dark time of history—is to hold high the banner of hope, and that hope is Jesus.

So we talk about Him, we pray to Him, we sing about Him, we remind people about Him. All of those things, I think they matter.

Laura: My children and I go to a playground down the street. It has a bench there with a quilt on it (I think it’s attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt). The quilt says, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” I love that quote. It’s really helpful to remember when you want to just be cursing the darkness, to light one candle. And I think it has its roots in Scripture.

When you were talking (and then also when I was thinking about those words by Eleanor Roosevelt), I thought about John 1:1–5, where John writes about,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And then John says that he [John] “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him” (v. 7)

As you were talking, I thought, That’s what you’re being, Erin! You are a witness about the Light! And may we each be that. During that dark time, that’s what we witness about: “There is a Light! And His Name is Jesus!”

Erin: Yes! To every Christian listening, let’s be candlelighters in the dark. And of course, we have no light of our own. We’re moons in that way; we can only reflect the light of the Son. But instead of cursing the darkness, let’s light candles.

Laura, I am honored to be a witness to your life, and that means that I know that you’ve walked through some dark seasons of your own, some times of really deep loss and suffering. And so I know you know what it’s like to feel like you’re in darkness . . . and to choose to believe that the light is still there!

Sometimes Laura talks about those seasons of loss or seasons of darkness in her podcasts. Her podcast is one of my favorites! It’s called Expect Something Beautiful. There she points us to biblical truth. It’s not a podcast where she likes to talk about the darkness, but she does like to talk about the Light—Jesus—and how He shines through the darkness!

Laura: Thanks, Erin. And speaking of podcasts, if you enjoy studying the Bible with Erin, I hope you’ll check out her other podcast. It’s called Women of the Bible. In each season Erin and a group of friends study a different character in the Bible. 

You can subscribe to the Women of the Bible podcast, or just visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Expect Something Beautiful, Women of the Bible and the Deep Well are all part of the Revive Our Hearts podcast family. So you can hear all of these podcasts at ReviveOurHearts.com

On the next episode, we will look at the most profound eclipse in human history! Join us again.

The Deep Well is a production of Revive Our Hearts, calling women to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Teacher

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

About the Host

Laura Booz

Laura Booz

Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God's Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She'll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the beautiful ways God is working in your life. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan, and their six children. Meet her at LauraBooz.com.