Posts Tagged ‘2 Kings’

2 Kings 25

2 Kings 25 has the end of this book about the kings and the consequences of disobedience and provocations against God.  We’ve seen a long string of kings who were evil and did things that put God at odds with the people in both Israel and Judah.  The punishment of that disobedience continues in this chapter as Nebuchadnezzar lays siege to Jerusalem during the reign of King Zedekiah. It went on for a couple years and “the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land”.

Finally, the breach was made in the city, and Zedekiah is captured.  “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”.  He was king of God’s chosen people, and yet like many before him, suffered a cruel death because of his choices – that of being disobedient to God and His commandments.  And those choices by this king and many before him, caused the people to go astray and God’s punishment was spread throughout the land on all.

In this case, King Nebuchadnezzar, sends in Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard to clean up and finish the destruction.  “He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down….broke down the walls around Jerusalem….the rest of the people who were left in the city….carried into exile”.  God’s chosen people are destroyed and looted once again, all because of the evil leadership of the kings and the following of that evil by the people.  The end result: “Judah was taken into exile out of its land”.  They are prisoners in another land.

There is one rather strange turn that happens as this book ends.  “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah….Evil-merodach king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar’s son who just took the throne) ….graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison….he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon”.  So dad has Jehoiachin locked up for decades and now his son not only frees him but makes him part of the kings table.  This ties into the last four verses in Jeremiah 52 where we are told the same story with a few more details.

2 Kings 24

2 Kings 24 now has us a couple kings from Josiah, one who had followed the Lord to the best of his knowledge, to Jehoiakim who becomes Nebuchadnezzar’s servant for three years.  The Babylonians had taken over Judah but soon Jehoiakim decides he doesn’t like to be a servant to that king so “he turned and rebelled against him”.  I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn’t.  Judah was still at odds with the Lord because of their present leadership, and what Manasseh had done some decades earlier when he led the people as far from God as possible.

So “the Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by his servants the prophets”.  God has had enough, and was on a mission “to remove them out of His sight….according to all that he (Mannaseh) had done”.  Jehoiachin takes the throne from his father Jehoiakim as the long line of very bad kings continues.

Jehoiachin carries on and “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  He’s just experienced captivity and attack from four nations and yet he can’t connect the dots that how they are living is the problem.  Nebuchadnezzar came and sieged the city and takes Jehoiachin and “his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials” as prisoners.  He also came in and took all the treasures form the king’s house as well as anything of value from the temple of the Lord.  He ransacked the place.

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”.  There wasn’t much left in the kingdom of Judah.  Nebuchadnezzar puts another guy on the throne, whom he names Zedekiah, to manage his conquered land.  It was “because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence”.  Yet still, these kings and leaders don’t get it, that their circumstances are because of their sin and evil ways.

2 Kings 23

2 Kings 23 continues in its description of Josiah as king of Judah.  He was very focused on walking with God once the Word was discovered in God’s house.  He called all the people together and “He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord”. Josiah was passionate about knowing God’s truth and making sure all the people in his care knew it as well.  They had gone for decades without hearing it, and he is changing that in Judah.

But he goes well beyond just reading and knowing God’s word.  He wants it to change his life and his country.  He “made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul”.  Josiah was all in for God.  And he was going to lead his people to be that way too.  He systematically went through the nation and destroyed other gods, other worship, other idols and anything that was not lined up with God’s Word.  He broke things, burned things, and killed priests and people who were leading the people away from God.

Scripture describes his passion for God this way.  “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him”.  That is some pretty high praise.  Josiah was consumed with returning the people to obedience to God.  And yet, in spite of all those efforts, “Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him”.  The sins of the past were too great to be overcome by Josiah’s obedience.  God had some work to do.

Josiah was a great king, but his life was ended when “Pharaoh Neco killed him at Megiddo”.  He had lived wholeheartedly for God.  But now, as his son Jehoahaz takes the throne, and shortly thereafter his son Joehoiakim follows, we see that both of these sons, from two different mothers, “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  How can that happen?  They grew up watching their dad King Josiah totally consumed by his desire to please God.  But obviously he didn’t intentionally pass that passion on to his kids.  They go 180 degrees the opposite way and return Judah to a nation without God.

2 Kings 22

2 Kings 22 has Josiah coming to the throne in Judah at age 8.  “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left”.  The boy obviously had some good mentors and parental instruction as he follows God carefully.  But that was based on what he knew.  Ten years after taking the throne, he instructs one of his main men to go to the Lord’s house and on some business and while there Shaphan is given the Book of the Law.

Hilkiah the high priest says “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord”.  It’s been lost for many years and Josiah had never heard the words it contained.  Shaphan read it before the king and “when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes”.  Josiah had been doing what he knew to follow God, but he had never read God’s Word and knew he was missing the mark.  So he wants to seek God to find out what his status as leader was, as well as the fate of his kingdom.

So Josiah tells his leadership team to “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us”.  No sense guessing what their status is.  Josiah wisely wants to hear directly from God.  And the answer not good.  God says “I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants”.

God goes on to tell Josiah why.  “Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched”.  God is a jealous God, and consistently pours out anger when his people lose their way and worship other Gods.  Josiah is given a little consolation because of his attempt to walk with God.  “I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place”.  Obedience matters, but it needs to be based on God’s Word and His way not what we think it should be.

2 Kings 20

2 Kings 20 has Hezekiah king of Judah sick and on the edge of death.  Isaiah the prophet “came to him and said….Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.”  While Hezekiah wanted to know what his future held, that isn’t the answer any of us would want to hear.  So he does what has been his action every time he faced something that was difficult and out of his control. We can learn much from this king who did what was right in God’s eyes.  Going to God is the only response we should have too in light of every situation.

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying….please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight”.  Hezekiah doesn’t just ask God to heal him.  He reminds God of how they hwave walked together and the depth of the relationship they have.  Hezekiah talks about his faithfulness to God – a complete and wholehearted walk that has led to God’s being pleased.  The foundation of his request for healing was their relationship, not simply that he wanted to live longer.

So as Isaiah was walking away from the palace after delivering the message of Hezekiah’s coming death, God hears Hezekiah’s prayer and turns Isaiah around to give Hezekiah the new reality.  “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you….I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city….I will defend this city.”  What started as a simple request to extend Hezekiah’s life has resulted in a promise of much more from the God he served.  That’s just like God – full of mercy and grace and abundance for those who walk with Him.  Hezekiah asks for proof that what Isaiah has said will happen.

First is the manner of healing God uses.  “Isaiah says….Bring a cake of figs. And let them take and lay it on the boil, that he may recover:”  God chooses a very specific way to remove the disease from Hezekiah.  But God goes much further.  He causes the sun to go backward in the sky – “let the shadow go back ten steps”.  This was a reference to the sundial that was used to keep time for the city.  By making the shadow of the sundial move backward, it gave more time in a day – just as God gave Hezekiah more time. It’s just like God to do miraculous things to assure his people, even at the individual level.

God’s assurance was just the miracle Hezekiah needed to prove to everyone that he was indeed walking with God.  He does some boneheaded things like showing some spies from Babylon where his wealth was hidden which leads to their capture of the kingdom in the future, but overall he walks in obedience.  Hezekiah was granted 15 more years and did some amazing things during his life including making “the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city”.  He served God and his people well. God hears our prayers when we walk with Him.  And He is more than able to respond to those requests.  It doesn’t mean He’ll always answer our way, but He definitely will hear us when we come to Him as faithful servants that chose to walk in obedience!

2 Kings 19

2 Kings 19 has Hezekiah responding to the news from his leadership team that the King of Assyria was threatening to destroy Judah.  So what does Hezekiah do?  What each of us should do when faced with overwhelming situations.  Actually what each of us should do all the time.  He went to God.  “As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord”.  He didn’t hesitate or wait and see what he could figure out.  He got the news and went to the Lord asap.

But he did more.  He also sent his leadership team to the prophet Isaiah.  He went to God’s main man on earth as well as directly to God in heaven.  And he describes it as a day of:

  • distress
  • Rebuke
  • Disgrace

Isaiah is up against some tough stuff and the day was not going well at all.

But for God, none of this was a surprise nor a challenge He could not overcome.  God gives his word saying “I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land”.  God’s got this.  But he doesn’t act immediately, and the enemy sends letters to other kings telling them what is going to happen.  This is as much a war of words and trying to make God look bad as it was a battle of men fighting in war.

So Hezekiah shows his true stripes again and “went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord….prayed before the Lord….save us, please”.  There’s a prayer most of us have said a few times.  God, we’re in trouble, please save us.  But it wasn’t out of character for Hezekiah.  He had gone to God much earlier to seek His protection and help, so as the war of words continues and the reality of a real battle of men was approaching, Hezekiah returns to the God he knows will save him.

Was Hezekiah right to trust God.  Check out what happens.  God says “I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David”.  God is taking this personally and there isn’t going to be any destruction of Judah at this time.  And without picking up as much as one sword by Hezekiah and his army, “the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians”.  This they got the message that it’s not safe to mess with the God of Judah?  The King of Assyria goes home and “as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down”.  The prophecy comes true and God has stood by His people yet again.

2 Kings 18

2 Kings 18 has a major shift in things in Judah as Hezekiah becomes king.  Unlike those before him, “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done”.  We’ve heard those words before in prior kings of Judah, but Hezekiah was different as he went all the way in obeying God’s commandments.  No partial obedience here.  “He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah”.  He cleaned up the nation and got rid of all the remains of the people that had been captured generations earlier.  All the previous kings had been mostly obedient but didn’t remove these things.  Hezekiah was full obedient to God.

So scripture describes him differently.  “He trusted in the Lord the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him”.  He is in a class by himself.  And scripture goes on to describe exactly what he did:

  • “he held fast to the Lord
  • He did not depart from following him
  • kept the commandments

Bottom line is that Hezekiah was fully obedient.  And that returned huge dividends as “the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered”.

Is there a connection between obedience and prosperity? Certainly obedience brings the blessing of God.  It doesn’t mean life will always be prosperous or easy.  In fact, for Hezekiah, he was being harassed by the Assyrians.  This comes after “the king of Assyria carried the Israelites away….because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant….they neither listened nor obeyed”.  The Israelites did not have a Godly king, and the people didn’t walk obedience and the consequences were severe.

So now Hezekiah is faced with threats from the Assyrians that they will do the same to his kingdom.  They come and ask “On what do you rest this trust of yours? 20 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me”?  Hezekiah wasn’t really willing to give in more than to pay a fee to the king to leave them alone.  So they try the intimidation approach and tell the people of Judah “do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand….Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us….Do not listen to Hezekiah”.  Talk about undermining the attitudes and hopes of a nation.  But Hezekiah hears the report from his leaders and they go to the Lord.

2 Kings 17

2 Kings 17 has “Hoshea….reign in Samaria over Israel….he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  Nothing learned yet so God allows “the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison”.  Hoshea is locked up.  Why.  Scripture tells us “this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God”.  The Word does go on to give us a laundry list of what they had done wrong.  Sin always carries a price.  That price includes consequences that must be paid.

Here are the things the people of Israel were doing in their sinful living:

  • feared other gods
  • walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out
  • in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced
  • did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right
  • built for themselves high places
  • set up for themselves pillars and Asherim
  • made offerings on all the high places
  • wicked things
  • served idols
  • despised his statutes and his covenant
  • went after false idols
  • followed the nations that were around them
  • abandoned all the commandments
  • made for themselves metal images
  • made an Asherah
  • worshiped all the host of heaven
  • served Baal
  • burned their sons and their daughters as offerings
  • used divination and omens
  • sold themselves to do evil

Quite an impressive list of sinful behaviors.  And it cost them dearly.  “The Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes….they would not listen….were stubborn….the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight”.  This is suicide in motion.  The people of Israel were way off base in how they were living.  It was not much better down the road for the people of Judah however.

“Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced”.  They were also in the weeds and doing their own thing.  They had a very bad example in that “Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord and made them commit great sin”.  Leadership matters, just like parenting, which is also leadership.  People follow people.  And when the wrong people are leading, the masses will suffer and pay a great price.  That is what happened in both Israel and Judah.  And the price was severe!

2 Kings 16

2 Kings 16 has Ahaz taking over the throne of Judah.  “He did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord” and continued to follow the ungodly practices of the nations that should have been destroyed generations earlier but since they hadn’t been completely removed, their ungodly ways were still alive and well in the Judah.  Ahaz goes a bit further in that “he even burned his son as an offering” and continued with making offerings on the high places and “under every green tree”.

Ahaz takes his poor leadership to an entirely different level.  Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, both come and wage war on Jerusalem.  Ahaz is able to hold them off but knows the siege will eventually work unless he is able to somehow defeat these two armies.  So he sends messengers to the king of Assyria asking for help.  “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me”.  Sounds like Ahaz is willing to give up control but just not to the Syrians or Israelites.

So the Assyrians attack Damascus in Syria and take that city as well as killing Rezin their king.  Ahaz is pretty pleased and has a drawing of the altar of the Assyrians taken back to Uriah, priest in Judah, so he can fashion one just like it in God’s temple.  And that was to become the temple used for worship – a pagan design of an altar to do sacrifice for a Holy God.  Can you see how that really isn’t going to go well?  But Ahaz isn’t satisfied and tells Uriah that “the bronze altar that was before the Lord be removed from the front of the house”.

Uriah the priest did all this, as King Ahaz commanded”.  From outward appearances, it seems Ahaz is doing everything possible to make God angry and to move as far as he could from the practices of David and his forefathers.  Seems like a pretty bold way to live.  God doesn’t react or respond at this time.  Ahaz managed to stay on the throne for sixteen years before he died.  “Hezekiah his son reigned in his place” and we’ll see in a couple chapters that he changes the game for Judah through obedience.

2 Kings 15

2 Kings 15 contains a roster of kings across Judah and Israel and what happened during their reigns.  The first mentioned is “Azariah….king of Judah….he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done”. This much description sounds good, but then we learn the other side of the story – “the high places were not taken away”.  We have another example of a king who did not fully obey God.  He was partially obedient, but didn’t take away the sacrificial spots that were not focused on the one and only True God.

As a result, “the Lord touched the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death, and he lived in a separate house”.  Pretty tough medicine for a king who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  But he missed the real mark – that of walking completely with God.  So “Jotham his son reigned in his place”.  Azariah was a good king, but not complete obedient.  He was given leprocy which meant he had to live by himself away from the family and people he served.  God doesn’t hold back any punches here.  He touched him with His own hand.

In the other kingdom, “Zechariah….reigned over Israel….did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done”.  So you have the king of Judah basically doing what was right, and the king of Israel doing what was wrong.  But in both cases, their rule was cut short.  For Zechariah, “Shallum….conspired against him and struck him down….reigned one month”.  Pretty short lived rule.  “Then Menahem….struck down Shallum….did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  Do you see a pattern here.  King is bad, doesn’t last long, people suffer, God takes them out.

The saga continues as “Pekahiah his son reigned in his place….did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  He failed and “Pekah….his captain, conspired….and struck him down”.  “Pekah….did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”.  Of course that leads to “Hoshea….conspiracy….struck him down”.  All this is happening is Israel.  In the other camp, “Jotham….did what was right in the eyes of the Lord….the high places were not removed”.  So close, but yet so far.  These kings of Judah do what is right in God’s eyes except taking the final step of change – to get rid of the high places of worship and sacrifice.  And that alone means their mostly good obedience falls short.  Close is not enough when it comes to walking with God.  That’s why Jesus is so important.  Without Him, none of us can meet God’s requirements!

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