2 Kings (2 Kgs)
The 12th book of the OT, which has 25 chapters. The author of this book of history is unknown but it covers the period from about 851 to 586 BC, spanning the reign of many of the 43 kings that governed Israel (either as the United Kingdom or one of the two divisions). Some of these same events are described in 2 Chronicles, but from a different angle. The 17 prophetic books at the end of the OT also give insight into this period, when some 30 prophets faithfully proclaimed God’s message to the people and their leaders. Time to read: 2 hrs 30 mins.
Key people include: Elijah, Elisha, Naaman, Jezebel, Hezekiah, Isaiah and Nebuchadnezzar.
Outline. This book continues on from First Kings with the sad history of the divided nation of Israel. Both the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) were predominantly ruled by evil Kings who encouraged idolatry rather than worship of the one true God, who had done so much for them as a nation and in past generations. Elisha becomes the main prophet after Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Several chapters tell of Elisha’s ministry and the miracles God worked through him.
The message that the prophets proclaimed was that “obedience to God would be blessed, but disobedience would bring judgment and destruction”. However, there was no genuine or lasting reformation of attitudes and lifestyles and in 722 the Northern Kingdom was completely taken into captivity by Assyria after two earlier warning invasions. In 586 the Southern Kingdom fell to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, although some Jews (including Daniel) were taken captive in 605 BC. Throughout Israel’s history, even though the majority disobeyed God, there were always some (a remnant) who remained faithful, not succumbing to peer pressure.
Main lesson. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed and the prophets continued to predict the same fate would come upon the Southern Kingdom unless they repented. Why is humanity so stubborn and self-willed, not learning by the example of others, but often making the same mistakes and suffering similar consequences? There had been ample warning, but there are limits even to God’s patience.
Key verses and thoughts: * “This is the day of good news and it’s not right to keep it to ourselves” (2 Kgs 7:9). Even though the discoverers of the good news had been outcasts and shunned by the populous they didn’t keep it a secret just to be enjoyed by themselves. They could have considered this was their lucky break but overlooked the ostracism of the past and wanted others to share in their find (2 Kgs 6:24-7:20). This should inspire us to share the blessings of our salvation with those who are spiritually starving.
* Although God had blessed them there was a continual swing towards false gods and idols, but there would be inevitable consequences (2 Kgs 17:7-23). They seemed to be fascinated by what was forbidden, drawn to what they could see and control, rather than faithfully obeying God and His messages given in the law and through the prophets. Am I attracted towards something expressly forbidden by Scripture, giving it more allegiance than God?
* “Even while worshipping the Lord they were serving their idols” (2 Kgs 17:41). They tried to have a foot in both camps! God wants our full loyalty and commitment continually, not just serving and obeying when it is convenient or to our advantage.