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II Kings

Author: Unknown

Date Written: 848-517 BC

Date of Narrative: 848-586 BC

 

2 Kings narrates the final decline and collapse of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  The capture of Israel by the Assyrians (17) and the exile of Judah to Babylon (24) complete the undoing of the kingdoms because of their disobedience to the covenant.

          

2 Kings concludes the spiritual history of Joshua-1 Kings (often called the Deuteronomistic History) so it is mainly concerned with the covenant loyalty of the kings not political and military feats.  Jeroboam, who had set up golden calves in Bethel, is the archetypal evil king while David is the standard of a good king.  All the kings of Israel follow the ways of Jeroboam.  Only Jehu attempts to do the Lord's will, but even he fails.  In Judah, a few kings make attempts to return the nation to fidelity to the Lord.  Joash, Amaziah, Azariah and Jotham do some righteous acts like David.  Only Hezekiah and Josiah destroy the places of pagan worship in Judah and call the people back to covenant faithfulness.  Each good king is rewarded for his efforts, but God's judgment has already been fixed: the nation will fall.

 

In 722 BC, the Assyrians under Sennacherib conquer Israel and take the people out of the land, causing them to intermarry with other peoples.  These Israelites are often referred to as the "Lost 10 Tribes" of Israel.  They were never able to return to the land of Israel because they intermarried with other people groups and lost their ethnic identity as Israelites.

 

Soon after the Assyrians conquer Israel, they attack Judah.  But the Lord saves Jerusalem through the prayers of Hezekiah and the Assyrians flee without a fight.  A few generations later, Josiah's wholehearted obedience to the Law of Moses is not enough to ward off impending judgment.  The Lord answers Judah's continual infidelity with the ultimate curse of Deuteronomy: exile (Deut 29).  The Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzer overwhelm Jerusalem and take many of the people captive, destroy the temple and tear down the city walls.

 

In the midst of this dark story, the prophets shine brightly.  Elijah again calls down fire from heaven.  Elisha works many miracles and prophesies a few key messages to the king of Israel.  The ministries of Elijah and Elisha which include healings and other miracles, prefigure the ministry of Jesus.  Isaiah, the same prophet who wrote the book of Isaiah, advises and aids King Hezekiah.

 

The book of 2 Kings continually points to the predictability of the nation's fate.  Faithfulness to the Lord's covenant leads to blessing, unity and abundance in the land, but unfaithfulness to the covenant leads to curse, division and exile from the land (Deut 28-29).

 

The Lord shows his patience with his people by continually bearing with their weaknesses, by holding off his judgment and giving them many chances to repent.  But the people's obstinate disobedience causes them to suffer defeat and exile.  The story of the people in the land from the time of Joshua to the time of the last kings has a sad ending.  The northern 10 tribes are forever lost in Assyria.  Judah and Benjamin are exiled to Babylon.  The glorious kingdom of David and Solomon has come to ruins because of sin.

 

2 Kings shows us that even the best situations are subject to human weakness and that our only real hope rests on the Lord.  In the time of 2 Kings, the Lord was faithful and patient with his sinful people.  Now that Jesus has come, his mercy is even more extensive. 

 

By Mark Giszczak

 

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July 29, 2014

Saint Martha

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Jn 11:19-27

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