2 Kings 22-23

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Revival & ReformationIn 1 Kings 13 a Prophet of God spoke out against Jeroboam regarding the evil that he was leading God’s people into. The Prophet spoke of a righteous king who would come and undo all the idolatrous worship that was being set up in the land of Israel… that king’s name would be Josiah. Now, here in 2 Kings 22-23 we see this king come to power as an eight year old boy – and grow up into a leader who loved the Lord unlike any of his forefathers before him. Josiah took over a kingdom that had become so perverted that it was hardly recognizable from what was originally established.

Under the reigns of Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon – the most vile practices of idolatry that one could even imagine were set up and performed out in the open. Scattered throughout the land were “groves” set up to the goddess Asherah – these were idols carved out of tree trunks (sort of like totem poles of Native America) – and there were groups of them set up in the very Temple itself where vile, pornographic dances were performed around them by priestly male and female prostitutes. There were altars throughout the land where sacrifices were burned to the sun, moon, stars and planets (zodiac). There were fire-pits set up outside of Jerusalem, which were originally used to burn the city trash, but had been transformed into sacrificial pits where children were sacrificed (“sent through the fire”) to the demon Molech.

Israel was lost… what was needed was a revival.

For 18 years King Josiah ruled in this vile dump, until one day he made the decision to begin to renovate the Temple. It was at that time a copy of the “Book of the Covenant” was found. (This would have probably been a copy of the Pentetuch – the first five books of our Bible – as written by Moses. It was probably hidden somewhere in the Temple by godly priests during the reigns of the evil kings before them). Upon reading the words of this lost book – Josiah was gripped with repentance – and thus began a long-needed revival in the land.

Revival.

Josiah immediately gathered all of the people together and read the words of this book to them all. After that – he stood and remade a covenant with God… leading God’s people back to Him. With their hearts reconfirmed to the ways of the Lord, Josiah then began the arduous process of cleaning up the disgusting mess that his forefathers had made. He tore down the places of idol worship, destroyed the altars, put to death the many groups of dark priests who led the sacrifices to demons. (Josiah even went as far as to dig up the bones of former idol worshipers and grind them up into powder). He left no stone unturned in his reformation of the land.

Revival.

Next he re-instituted the commands which God had given to His people many generations before. Commands to keep the Passover and never forget that God had led them out of slavery to Egypt. These commands had been basically ignored since the days of the Judges – but now Josiah was reinstating them for the first time.

Revival.

I cannot help but notice that the reformation and cleansing was begun by a complete reading of the Word of God. It was the fact that the Law of God was ignored that things had been permitted to go as far as they did. Generations of people had come and gone without any knowledge or remembrance of what God had originally set up for them to do. Little concessions had led to huge departures from God’s way of life, until eventually a huge cleansing, such as this one, was needed. All it took was one man to stand up and turn the eyes of the people back to God’s Word.

Sort of reminds me of America.

 

Unfortunately – God knew that the change was not permanent. He knew that once Josiah was gone, the people would return back to their sin. That is why He does not relent from His plan to lift protection off of Judah and allow them to be overtaken and drug off into captivity. This wasn’t God’s doing… this was the result of many, many years of sinful rebellion – of such depraved depths that even this wonderful revival could not stem the tide that was building against it. HAD the people of Israel genuinely turned from their sin and repented, then no doubt God would have relented and saved them (as proven by His many warnings through the Prophets, along with His promise to save a remnant even after the destruction of Judah).

In the end, what God knew came to pass. Josiah dies and both of his sons, Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, continued to do “evil in the sight of the Lord” as their forefathers had done… despite the reforms set in place by their father.

Revival.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Kings 17

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In 2 Kings 17 we see details which will set the tone for historical significance that will stretch into the time of Jesus. This one chapter provides insight into not only the great love and patience of God – but also the choices of people which led to much heartache for the nation of Israel.

First – let’s recap a bit:

  1. David becomes king of Israel after Saul is rejected by God. David loves God and God continues His promises through David.
  2. Solomon becomes king after his father David – and also loves God… but he also loves women. He takes many foreign wives (disobeying God) and they influence him to sin against God and re-introduce idol worship into the land.
  3. The nation of Israel divides in civil war after Solomon – with Jeroboam taking over the 10 tribes to the north (Israel) and Rehoboam assuming the 2 tribes to the south (Judah).

 

2 Kings 17 begins with Hoshea becoming king over the northern Israel. He follows suit with the many kings before him by not obeying the Lord (although he isn’t as bad… he still is bad). He does evil… and this pushes God beyond His patience level. God has been gracious with the 10-tribes of Israel… for 260 years He has pleaded with them to return back to Him. 19 Kings have ruled these people and not one of them have walked in the ways God set up for them… leading God’s people into rebellion – idol worship – even child sacrifice. This has forced God’s hand.

(Take a moment to re-read 2 Kings 17:7-18 to see a great recap of this. It shows God’s great patience… sending prophets to warn the king and people, yet to no avail.)

With a broken heart, God is forced to withdraw His hand of protection over this stiff-necked people. This opens the door for the king of Assyria to come in and destroy the 10-tribes of Israel… carrying all of the people into slavery… This is not evidence of God’s rejection of the people as much as it is of the people’s continual rejection of God. In the end – God “removes them out of His sight” (vs 18). This should have served as a grave warning for Judah as well… but, as we shall see, the same fate will happen to them 133 years later at the hand of Babylon.

 

Rabbit Trail: There are many theories as to what happened to these 10 tribes of Israel that were sent off to Assyria. The speculation is that they were lost forever because King Cyrus of Persia would eventually overthrow Babylon and release the people to go back to Jerusalem. The theory goes that this only represented the southern portion of Judah… signifying that the 10 other tribes were assimilated into the foreign culture and lost forever. But, the other side of the argument is that when Cyrus defeated Babylon – that included the old territory of Assyria… thus the people sent back to Jerusalem represented ALL 12 tribes reunited. Interesting study if you are so inclined. 🙂

 

After Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, attacked and destroyed the northern nation of Israel, (as per the custom) he removed the original inhabitants and repopulated the land with various foreign people groups. These people had foreign customs and false gods which they brought with them into the once-Promised land area of Samaria. Once Cyrus released the people to go back to the land – they settled among these new inhabitants… inter-marrying and diluting the pure Jewish blood. This is the beginning of the political and racial tension between Jerusalem and Samaria – seen still in action in Jesus’ day in John 4.

In the end, it wasn’t God who caused all of this to happen… but people who rejected the covenant of love that God had established through Abraham – Issac – Jacob – David. When people today blame God for the heartache – disease – pain – frustration – poverty – calamity of the world they reveal an ignorance regarding these Truths in God’s Word. As we have clearly seen over these past few months… it was God who lovingly pleaded and warned His people to stop the path they were on and return back to their original partnership with Him (as established at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 20).

The Good News for us today is that Jesus came to bear the punishment of this rejection by God’s people. It was on the cross that Jesus took all of this sin upon Himself… paving the way for you and I to fully walk in the Covenant of Blessing God originally intended since Genesis 1-2. By reading through God’s Word – one can easily make these connections from Creation to Jesus to all of us today!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Kings 15

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Although it is difficult to imagine… things have gone from bad to worse for the once blessed nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. For the northern 10-tribes of Israel, they are in such constant turmoil and violence that is almost unheard of in our modern world. Their continual choice to “do evil in the sight of the Lord” has caused their once prosperous kingdom to slowly and methodically descend into barbaric chaos. Assassinations and treachery rule the day – with kings even going as far as to rip open pregnant women in an effort to secure their power and fortune (2 Kings 15:16). Each king, presented with the option to return the kingdom back to the ways of God and their ancestors – instead chooses to follow the path of recent generation – causing the people to creep further into sin and chaos. (I find it disheartening that each King is referenced to Jeroboam, the son of Nebalt, in level of evil committed. That is what Jeroboam was remembered for years. This causes me to consider what my legacy will be remembered for…).

The southern 2-tribes of Judah are not fairing much better. Although they are not quite as evil as their northern brothers, (some even being described as “doing right in the eyes of the Lord”) – it seems with them as well there is only partial obedience. For with each king of Judah we see the same label… “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… EXCEPT he failed to remove the high places and allowed the people to burn incense there”. (paraphrase mine). What this indictment is saying is that, although the kings of Judah seemed to follow the Lord a bit more closely then their northern counterparts – they still allowed idolatry and the worship of foreign false gods to permeate the land. This resulted in longer reigns for the kings (52 years for Uzziah – also known as Azariah), yet still kept them from experiencing the full blessing of obedience – and ended with their future total destruction by Babylon.

During these years of evil and barbaric sin – there were Prophets who were speaking the Words of God… warning (sometimes even pleading with) God’s people to change, turn their hearts back to God, repent, and again walk in His favor. As we read through the short accounts of these evil kings – keep in mind that the prophetic books of Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Jonah, and Micah were all written during this time.

At the end of 2 Kings 15 we see a foreboding sign which should serve as not only a foreshadowing, but also a warning for us today. Right smack dab in the midst of evil kings and murder and treachery… we see the first mention of Assyria coming to power and beginning to invade the land of Israel. While God’s people were busy rejecting God’s ways and gallivanting in sin – a powerful enemy kingdom was growing stronger to the east – multiplying and consuming land around them. Assyria is beginning to encroach on the Promise Land which God had given to His people years before… and would eventually overtake God’s people and destroy them.

Sin brings death… and the enemy silently plots while we abandon our posts to dabble in it.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Kings 8-11

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There is always a purpose to what is happening around us… and even more so with what we read in God’s Word. As we continue through the various accounts of the kings of both Israel and Judah – it can be easy to see them as pointless details and historical records, but that is far from the truth. In order to see some of that truth – let’s recap a bit.

Due to sin, the original nation of Israel (firmly established under King David and prospered under King Solomon) quickly descended into civil war – ending up with a divided nation… Israel to the north and Judah to the south. From then on we start to read of the acts of the various kings from both parts (Israel and Judah) in a sort of intertwined mixture. Israel would never have a king who would obey the Lord God and walk in His ways (hence why they would eventually be destroyed first) – yet Judah would occasionally have a king who would seek to reform the policies and people back to the ways of Jehovah God.

If you remember, back in 2 Kings 8 – we are told of a unique alliance between Joram (the King of northern Israel) and Jehoshaphat (king of southern Judah). Joram was the son of the evil Israelite king Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel In 2 Kings 8:16-17 we are told that Jehoshaphat (being an old man) has his son, Jehoram, begin to reign alongside of him on the throne of Judah. Then notice a tiny detail we are told regarding Jehoram:

He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab, for [Athaliah] the daughter of Ahab was his wife. He did evil in the sight of the Lord.” – 2 Kings 8:18 AMP

Did you see it? During the unique alliance between Joram (of Israel) and Jehoshaphat (of Judah) – in order to strengthen their alliance, Jehoshaphat married his son off to Joram’s sister, Athaliah, (the daughter of evil Ahab and Jezebel). Although this can quickly start to sound like a modern day soap-opera… in reality it is further signs of Satan at work.

As we have already read – after Jehoram dies… his son Ahaziah begins to reign over Judah (2 Kings 8:25). (This is the seed of Jehoram and Athaliah – the grandson of Ahab & Jezebel). Next, we see that Ahaziah (king of Judah) gets caught in the assassination plot of Joram (king of Israel) and is himself killed as well. (2 Kings 9:27).

Confused yet?

Well – from there we read that Athaliah (Ahaziah’s mother – widow of Jehoram – daughter of Ahab and Jezabel) is still alive and, when she learns of her son’s untimely demise… seeks to grab the throne of Judah for herself by having all of her children/grandchildren destroyed (2 Kings 11).

That was Satan’s plan… worked out through the initial alliance between Joram and Jehoshaphat.

You see – Satan remembers the promise God has spoken in Genesis 3:15 – that a Seed of the woman would eventually be born who would destroy the work of Satan. So the devil has been watching all these years for that Seed to come forth… he doesn’t know where or when… but he knows it will eventually happen because God said so. In his effort to thwart that promise (as he always does), Satan has been working overtime to destroy any Seed he can. Satan has heard God’s promises to David – that his seed will be established forever (2 Sam 7:12-16) – and so he knows that the Seed will eventually come through the southern kingdom of Judah… which God is also sustaining (2 Kings 8:19).

So the marriage between Jehoram, king of Judah, and Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel, was part of Satan’s design to introduce idolatry into Judah, so that Athaliah might do for Judah what Jezebel did for Israel. This plan worked both morally and politically – as Judah quickly fell into sin along with her northern sister Israel. The results of this is Athaliah (after the death of her son) destroying her entire lineage in an effort to secure the throne of Judah for herself.

But God’s plan always works. What Athaliah did not realize is that she missed one small infant grandson – Joash. He would be hidden and reared up in secret as the last remaining descendant in the lineage of the eventual Messiah – the Seed of the Woman whom Satan feared so much!

God’s Word will always come to pass… despite the evil schemes of the devil.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

2 Kings

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There are many different ways to read & study the Word of God.

      1. Topical – where you find a topic of interest (such as healing) and you study all of the passages which speak of that topic.
      2. Person/Place – where you study all about a certain individual or a particular geographical location.
      3. Word Study – where you take a particular word and find all of the passages where that word is located… studying it’s various meanings and applications.

But my favorite way to read God’s Word is from a chronological/historical perspective. By reading it through like a novel (as we are currently doing) – one is able to see the heart of God clearly outlined in the various situations people find themselves in. You can hear His heart when He speaks to His people – through His prophets – and through the various acts. To me, it is encouraging to watch God deal with human beings (just like me) throughout history… I feel a sort of connection when Abraham is confronted with the choice to obey – or when Moses doubts his ability – or when David stumbles and then repents in tears. Those were real men – with real fears and doubts – all attempting to walk out a relationship with the Almighty One.

Which brings us to where we are now – in 2 Kings. As we have read orderly through the Word of God – from Genesis to 2 Kings – we have seen a very obvious progressive line that we are following. God’s heart is revealed right out of the gate in Genesis as a loving Creator doting over His beautiful world. As the tragedy of Genesis 3 unfolds, one can actually feel God’s heart break. Down through the generations that follow we watch the devastating effect of sin – and hear God lovingly pleading with His people to turn from that sin and return back to Him.

Along with the progression of mankind and sin – we can see the development of God’s people… from Abraham alone to a nation of millions – led by the mighty King David – into a world power under Solomon. Again, we watch God journey with them as a concerned parent… taking them by the hand in the desert – as well as scolding them when they rebel. One thing through all of this is clear… the Lord loves His people.

By the time we reach the Books of the Kings, one can feel dizzy and disoriented at the names and places mentioned. (Languages separated by time and distance have a way of doing that sort of thing!). How quickly it seems the years go by – and their casual mention can cause the reader to overlook that fact that these years represented real lives… generations rising and falling… wars – famines – weddings – funerals – births – deaths.

People… living their lives… just like us.

Woven throughout this story is another thread which we have pointed to many times so far… the thread of disobedience. From our birds-eye view we have the luxury of witnessing the success of the obedient and the failure of the rebellious. It can be tempting to place ourselves above the disobedient… once again forgetting that these people had no such luxury… they lived it.

So – with that overview in mind – as we have entered the 2nd book of the Kings… have you noticed the tenor shift? All of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, we see the emergence of miracles. Not just the miraculous such as leading a nation out of Egypt and through the desert (although that was miraculous indeed!) – but more practical examples.

  1. Elijah resurrects a boy (1 Kings 17:17-24)
  2. Fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:30-40)
  3. Drying up of the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:7-8)
  4. Elisha healing the waters (2 Kings 2:19-22)
  5. Increase/multiplication of the widow’s oil (2 Kings 4:1-7)
  6. Healing of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14)
  7. Floating axe head (2 Kings 6:1-7)

It seems – as we read through this – that things have been kicked up a notch miracle-wise. Yes, there were plenty of miracles that happened previously… but after years of enduring evil kings leading His people astray – it looks like God has turned up the heat a bit. Although there were 1000’s of “prophets” in the land (actual schools of them) – it seems two main Prophets (Elijah and Elisha) stand out… and it is through them that the atmosphere changes.

God seems to be growing impatient a bit. He has been waiting for His people to return to the love that David showed for Him… yet that doesn’t seem to be happening. More and more generations are falling into progressively worse sin – worshiping Baal (and other false religions) – and rejecting God and His way. From the bird’s-eye view… God seems to be growing weary of waiting and decides to become a bit more proactive.

 

Ladies and gentlemen… the Prophets are coming…

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK