Overview of 2 Kings – Let Us Be The Change We Seek

Posted: March 30, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

OVERVIEW OF 2 KINGS

Personal Reflection on Overview of 2 Kings

Today, we begin the sequel of 1 Kings – 2 Kings. Man, there was a lot that happened in 1 Kings. We go from a united kingdom at the time of the death of King David and Solomon’s rise to the throne (970 BC) to where we are now at the beginning of 2 Kings (852 BC), where we have two kingdoms standing at the precipice of their decline into captivity by foreign nations. What a difference a few centuries can make! What started as an argument among Solomon’s descendants at the palace ripped the country apart and led them into straying from God and ultimately led to the separate and weaker kingdoms being destroyed by surrounding foreign nations.

Is there a lesson for us as Christ followers living in the United States at this moment in history in 2019 (some 2,871 years removed from the point in history that 2 Kings begins)? If anything, the books of 1 and 2 Kings, and particularly 2 Kings, is a warning call to us as a nation as a whole and to us as Christ followers within that nation of people. That history repeats itself is the sad truth of human history. That we think we have evolved to our highest point at every point in history leads us to begin to worship ourselves in every society and at every point in history.

For us in the United States, we are entering an age where the growing majority of people are functionally agnostic and/or atheist. I say functionally because there are many who claim to be Christians but do not regularly attend church nor do they believe in all the basic tenets of the Christian faith. So, in this age, our nation is descending into worshiping itself. We have become so enamored with our own luxuries that we have become increasingly self-centered. We seek that which is right for us individually. We seek that which pleases us in and of ourselves. Jesus is a self-help guru and one of many options of self-help gurus and not the one and only way to the Father. We may not have wooden images that we worship as they did back then, but we worship ourselves now and the things we take pleasure in – money, possessions, celebrity, unencumbered pursuit of our self-defined lifestyles. We may not offer human sacrifices as they did back then but we have our own ways of defining what is worthy life and what is not now. The year on the calendar may change but people have not really changed that much. Following God requires us to recognize that there is a higher authority than ourselves. We, as humans, in the absence of truly knowing God on His terms, do not like to cede control of our lives and the world in which we live to anything or anyone other than ourselves. The names change, the year changes, but people have not. If we learn nothing else after walking through 1 Kings is that it is a mirror to us in 21st century America. Don’t let that get lost in the process of reading old city names, odd Hebrew names of people, their genealogies, and the seeming brutality of different historical era. The basic motivations of people in Israel toward self-worship is exactly the same as it is now in the 21st century. Let us really examine the spirit of the content of 2 Kings and see ourselves as a society.

The second thing that we as Christians in America when we read 2 Kings is that it is the appalling silence of any of the God-fearing people of that age. Yes, there were a few people, prophets, who stood up and called the people to repentance in public and large ways. However, I am certain that there were God-fearing people living in those times that just did not speak up as the countries of Israel and Judah drifted toward destruction. They just accepted things the way they were and went along. That’s the other takeaway from 2 Kings. We, as Christians, know that the further our country drifts away from God that it will not end well for the United States. We have the Bible to demonstrate this to us through the fall of Israel and Judah. In fact, in the New Testament, we still see it with the Roman Empire being the latest empire to conquer and occupy Israel and Judah. We know from this biblical evidence that God has and will judge nations that purposely turn their backs on Him. We know it’s coming to our country as well.

That’s the call of 2 Kings to us as 21st century American Christians. Let us arise and speak out and BE THE CHANGE that we seek in our country. En masse, we must engage our culture on a one-on-one basis. We must befriend those who are far from God and engage them in dialogue. We must gain their trust so that we can speak truth into their lives. We must not withdraw into our churches and say that the world is going nuts outside and barricade ourselves in our four walls inside our churches. Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus spoke to people that the “religious people” would not speak to. Jesus touched the untouchables of his day. Jesus was out in the streets. I read somewhere that when you see where Jesus spoke, 95% of the things he said in the Bible was outside the synagogues and the Temple. We must be out in the streets getting to know people who are far from God. They are listening to the culture right now because no one else is talking to them. Let us encounter the culture around us not with disdain and picket signs but rather through relationships. Let us encounter our culture with the uncommon, unusual, crazy love of Jesus Christ. That’s the warning of 2 Kings to us. If we just go along to get along we will get what we get – a culture that is shaking its fist at God as it heads for its judgment by Him. Let us be a people who loves people back to God.

Let us not be a nation of Christians who just says that we can do nothing to change the world in which we live. Let us not withdraw. Let us take 2 Kings as the powerful call to be prophets in our 21st century context. Let us each be prophets in our individual spheres of influence. Let us examine our circle of friends and see the lack of non-believers in our circle of influence. Let us be purposeful in engaging the culture around us and seeking ways to make contact with non-believers. Let us then create relationships with those that are far from God. Let us then be able to earn the right to speak the gospel into existence into their lives in love – because we actually do care about them and love them and want to see them in heaven one day. One on one, one person at a time. Let us be the change that we seek in our culture. Let us not just quietly go along to get along.

Amen and Amen.

KEY FACTS AND THEMES OF 2 KINGS

Author:

The Book of 2 Kings does not name its author. The tradition is that the prophet, Jeremiah, was the author of both 1 and 2 Kings.

Time Period in Human History Covered In the Book:

852 BC – 586 BC (266 years). Previously, 1 Kings covered the period 970 BC – 852 BC (118 years). Together, these books cover a period of 384 years of ancient Israel’s history.

852 BC Moab Rebels 2 Kings 1
851 BC Elijah Taken up to Heaven 2 Kings 2
851 BC Elisha Succeeds Elijah 2 Kings 2:12
850 BC Jehoram Meets Moab Rebellion 2 Kings 3
849 BC The Widow’s Oil 2 Kings 4
849 BC Elisha Raises The Shunammite boy 2 Kings 4:8
849 BC The Healing of Naaman 2 Kings 5
848 BC Elisha Floats an Axhead 2 Kings 6
848 BC Elisha Promises Plenty in Samaria 2 Kings 7
847 BC The Shunammite’s Land 2 Kings 8
841 BC Jehu Reigns in Israel 2 Kings 9
841 BC Jehu Kills Joram 2 Kings 9:11
841 BC Ahab’s Family Killed 2 Kings 10
841 BC Baal Worshipers killed 2 Kings 10:18
841 BC Joash escapes Athaliah 2 Kings 11
835 BC Joash Reigns Well 2 Chronicles 24,
2 Kings 12
812 BC Joash Orders Temple repairs 2 Kings 12:6
812 BC Jehoahaz’s wicked reign 2 Kings 13
796 BC Amaziah’s good reign 2 Kings 14,
2 Chronicles 25
790 BC Azariah’s good reign 2 Kings 15
742 BC Wicked Reign of Ahaz 2 Chronicles 28,
2 Kings 16
725 BC Hoshea the Last King of Israel 2 Kings 17
722 BC Israel Led into Captivity 2 Kings 17:6
721 BC Strange Nations Transplanted into Samaria 2 Kings 17:24
712 BC Hezekiah’s Illness and Healing 2 Kings 20,
Isaiah 38
711 BC Hezekiah Shows Treasures 2 Kings 20:12,
Isaiah 39
701 BC Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem 2 Kings 18,
Isaiah 36,
2 Chronicles 32
701 BC Hezekiah’s Prayer 2 Kings 19,
Isaiah 37
687 BC Manasseh’s Wicked Reign 2 Kings 21,
2 Chronicles 33
640 BC Josiah’s good reign 2 Kings 22,
2 Chronicles 34
621 BC Josiah Prepares for Temple Repair 2 Kings 22:3
621 BC Hilkiah finds the lost Book of the Law 2 Kings 22:8
621 BC Josiah Celebrates the Passover 2 Kings 23,
2 Chronicles 35
601 BC Rebellion of Jehoiakim 2 Kings 24
597 BC Jehoiachim exiled 2 Kings 24:10
597 BC Zedekiah reigns in Judah 2 Kings 24:18
588 BC Siege of Jerusalem Begins 2 Kings 25
586 BC The Fall of Jerusalem 2 Kings 25,
Jeremiah 52

Date of Writing:

The Book of 2 Kings, along with 1 Kings, was likely written between 560 and 540 B.C.

Purpose of Writing:

The Book of 2 Kings is a sequel to the Book of 1 Kings. It continues the story of the kings over the divided kingdom (Israel and Judah.) The Book of 2 Kings concludes with the final overthrow and deportation of the people of Israel and Judah to Assyria and Babylon, respectively.

Key Verses:

2 Kings 17:7-8: “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

2 Kings 22:1a-2: “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

2 Kings 24:2: “The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.”

2 Kings 8:19: “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.”

Brief Summary:

Second Kings depicts the downfall of the divided kingdom. Prophets continue to warn the people that the judgment of God is at hand, but they will not repent. The kingdom of Israel is repeatedly ruled by wicked kings, and, even though a few of Judah’s kings are good, the majority of them lead the people away from worship of the Lord. These few good rulers, along with God’s prophets, cannot stop the nation’s decline. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is eventually destroyed by the Assyrians, and about 136 years later the Southern Kingdom of Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians.

There are three prominent themes present in the Book of 2 Kings.

  • First, the Lord will judge His people when they disobey and turn their backs on Him. The Israelites’ unfaithfulness was reflected in the evil idolatry of the kings and resulted in God exercising His righteous wrath against their rebellion.
  • Second, the word of the true prophets of God always comes to pass. Because the Lord always keeps His word, so too are the words of His prophets always true.
  • Third, the Lord is faithful. He remembered His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-13), and, despite the disobedience of the people and the evil kings who ruled them, the Lord did not bring David’s family to an end.

Foreshadowings:

Jesus uses the stories of the widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings and Naaman in 2 Kings to illustrate the great truth of God’s compassion toward those the Jews deemed unworthy of God’s grace—the poor, the weak, the oppressed, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles. By citing the examples of a poor widow and a leper, Jesus showed Himself to be the Great Physician who heals and ministers to those in the greatest need of divine sovereign grace. This same truth was the basis of the mystery of the body of Christ, His Church, which would be drawn from all levels of society, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:1-6).

Many of the miracles of Elisha foreshadowed those of Jesus Himself. Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:34-35), healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-19), and multiplied loaves of bread to feed a hundred people with some left over (2 Kings 4:42-44).

Practical Application:

God hates sin and He will not allow it to continue indefinitely. If we belong to Him, we can expect His discipline when we disobey Him. A loving Father corrects His children for their benefit and to prove that they indeed belong to Him. God may at times use unbelievers to bring correction to His people, and He gives us warning before delivering judgment. As Christians, we have His Word to guide us and warn us when we go astray from His path. Like the prophets of old, His Word is trustworthy and always speaks truth. God’s faithfulness to His people will never fail, even when we do.

The stories of the widow and the leper are examples for us in regard to the Body of Christ. Just as Elisha had pity on these from the lowest levels of society, we are to welcome all who belong to Christ into our churches. God is no “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), and neither should we be.

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