So Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and he dined regularly in the presence of the king of Babylon for the rest of his life. As for his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, for the rest of his life.
2 Kings 25:29 – 30 (CSB)
At this point in the Bible, Israel no longer existed as a nation-state. The Israelites had repeatedly been unfaithful to the Lord for centuries, pursuing terrible pagan practices and idolatry. Finally, because of their disobedience, God first allowed the Assyrians and then the Babylonians to decimate their land and deport most of the population. King Jehoiachin, the last of David’s line, spent the rest of his days as a prisoner in Babylon. 2 Kings 25 details the ignominious end to a nation that had once been a significant power in the ancient near east thanks to King David.
But these last two verses serve as another demonstration of God’s steadfastness. Earlier in 2 Samuel 7, the Lord promised that David's line would continue and someday produce a king whose throne would last forever. In this quiet epilogue, the author tells us that despite Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, his faithfulness to them continued – it just strangely manifested itself. Jehoiachin may have been an exile, held under the thumb of Babylon’s king, but he was still protected. God's hidden providence preserved the line of David so that centuries later, it would come to fruition in Jesus.
Sometimes, God seems absent. Sometimes his promises seem to be fading away unfulfilled. The end of 2 Kings reminds us that God remains faithful to us, but his faithfulness may show up in ways that may not be what we expect – or even want. His goodness may be hard to see at times. But his faithfulness endures, even if it does so in a strange way.
This week, remember the strange ways of God’s faithfulness to you.
“Risk-on” was the undisputed sentiment for the week as global stocks gained, with some pockets of global markets up double digits. These moonshot results came from a weaker-than-expected Consumer Price Index (CPI) print on Thursday, causing risk-taking jubilation – an overreaction in our and many other market observers’ opinions. Expectations for the December fed funds rate hike immediately walked back to 50 basis points from the 75 basis points anticipated earlier in the week. The core CPI (less food and energy) reading came in with a year-over-year reading of 6.3% (down from the 40-year high of 6.6% in September) and a monthly core reading of 0.3%. Headline data was 7.7% and 0.4%, respectively. The most significant causes for the reduction in the measure stemmed from health insurance driving medical services lower and used car prices dropping precipitously. Inflation still has a long way to get close to the Federal Reserve's 2% target. Companies will undoubtedly see margin pressure and need to cut costs (take note of the increasing volume of reports about company layoffs). While inflation likely has peaked, a lot of inflation-related dynamics still need to be resolved. For instance, shelter costs – which account for about one-third of CPI – actually rose 0.8%, the largest monthly gain since 1990. In other news, the Labor Department reported that jobless claims rose to 225,000 last week, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week. As reported on Friday, the preliminary gauge of November consumer sentiment fell unexpectedly to its lowest level since July, attributed mainly to elevated prices for goods and increasingly higher interest rates.
The market reaction to the mid-term elections on Tuesday was relatively muted as the anticipated Republican “red wave” turned into a “red trickle.” As of this writing, several news organizations have called the Senate for the Democrats. The final tally for the House remains in question, but Republicans are highly favored to gain a slim majority. We will likely get a divided government, which is generally favorable for financial market performance.
European shares continued their streak of positive performance for the fourth consecutive week as they drifted higher with the upward move in U.S. stocks. Eurozone indices were up around 5% on average. At the same time, the UK experienced a slight decline as its economic situation continued to deteriorate materially (as evidenced by the country’s negative GDP print). The Bank of England forecasted the third quarter to start an anticipated two-year recession. More broadly, the European Commission predicted that the eurozone economy would contract in the fourth quarter, seeing continued weakness through at least the first quarter of 2023, and raised inflation predictions for 2024 north of 2.5%.
Japan’s stock market showed gains of around 4% while gaining momentum from the Bank of Japan's statement of intention to maintain an ultra-loose monetary policy approach. Finally, China shares were up thanks to a Friday announcement from the government that marginally walked back its strict zero-COVID policy by reducing mandatory quarantine times for inbound travelers and implementing slightly less restrictive testing requirements.
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