Good morning! Much progress is being made in the Bible, and I hope you are as inspired by God's word as I am.
Today, we finished 2 Kings and the first twenty chapters of 1 Chronicles.
While there is much to say, I am going to focus on just a few key moments throughout the two books.
Yesterday, we read of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah and Elisha are both prophets in the northern part of Israel.
Elijah was an amazing prophet; he called fire down from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal, he condemned King Ahab and Jezebel for the murder of Naboth over his vineyard, he called down fire again to destroy fifty people sent from King Ahaziah. Elisha asks him for a double portion of his Spirit when Elijah's time to be taken by a chariot of fire was near. Wouldn't you ask Elijah to impart his Godly spirit of wisdom before leaving? Elisha is given the double portion as asked, and performs many miracles as well. Elijah is spoken of in the New Testament; many of the Jews believed that he would return because of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6. This Elijah that was to return was not Jesus the Messiah, but was indeed John the Baptist, as Jesus himself testifies in Matthew 11:14.
Today, we see similar happenings as in First Kings. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah go through many different kings, most of which do not please God with their lives. However, there are some kings in Judah throughout that did right in the eyes of the Lord.
Two especially important historical events that took place in Second Kings are the invasions of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 734-732 B.C. and then again in 722 B.C. The first invasion (2 Kings 15:29) was under the reign in Israel of King Pekah. During Pekah's reign, Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, took control of much of the Northern Kingdom (eight areas mentioned in 2 Kings 15). During the invasion, a man named Hoshea assassinated King Pekah and succeeded him as King.
The second invasion, occuring in 2 Kings 17:3-6, was due to King Hoshea, the same one that assassinated former King Pekah. The then current King Shalmaneser of Assyria heard of Hoshea's treason, for Hoshea was sending messengers to So, the king of Egypt. Further, Hoshea was not meeting his payments to Assyria, so Shalmaneser put him in prison and laid siege to all of of Israel for three years. Then Shalmaneser deported the Israelites to Assyria.
As you read through the reign of the kings in Israel and Judah, you will commonly see "so and so became king" and "he did evil in the eyes of the Lord." There are only a select few that were righteous, some more than others, and they were in Judah.
"And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incenses there" (2 Kings 12:2-3). Johoash played a vital role in making repairs to the temple, the regular maintenance of which had ceased (2 Kings 12:7).
"[Amaziah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not like David his father. He did in all things as Joash his father had done. 4 But the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places" (2 Kings 14:3-4).
"[Azariah, also known as Uzziah,] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places" (2 Kings 15:3-4).
"[Jotham] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah had done. 35 Nevertheless, the high places were not removed. The people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 15:34-35).
Do you notice a trend here? King after king in Judah did what what right; however, they did not remove the high places, and the people continued to worship other Gods. Jotham's son Ahaz succeeded him as king, and did not do what right in the eyes of the Lord. He walked in detestable ways, and offered sacrifices to foreign Gods.
Then. Ahaz's son Hezekiah succeeded him as king, and he is perhaps the most memorable of all the kings of Judah in the divided kingdom.
"In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. 4 He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).[a] 5 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" (2 Kings 18:1-5).
Unlike the kings before him, he removed the high places and destroyed the foreign gods. He trusted God, and he was righteous, and he led the people to righteousness.
While these kings were all from Judah, the kings of Israel meanwhile all did evil in the eyes of the Lord (other than maybe Shallum, who was assassinated after one month on the throne). It was because of Israel's continual sin that they were exiled in 2 Kings 17.
While Judah's kings were righteous for a time, they also began to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. With the exception of Josiah, the rest of the kings of Judah in 2 Kings did evil. Josiah found the book of the Law in 2 Kings 22 and called together all the elders of Judah and Jersualem, along with the prophets and the priests, and all the people from least to greatest. He then read the book of the Law of the Lord in the temple and renewed the covenant of God before the people (2 Kings 23:3). Amazing!
At the end of 2 Kings, Jerusalem falls to Babylon and those from Judah went into captivity under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon around 586 B.C. (or 605 B.C.). This is also when the beginning of the book of Daniel takes place chronologically.
Did anyone like reading thirteen chapters of names? We won't focus much on them, but if you ever want a fantastic study on the the families in the Bible, Chronicles is an easy way to see the family trees laid out before you. A helpful list to refer to in order to understand First and Second Kings in 1 Chronicles 3:10-16.
The book of Chronicles refers back through history, starting with the genealogical record of Adam. First we are shown clips of Saul's life as king of Israel, then David's, then Solomon's. Tomorrow, we will read through the end of 1 Chronicles, and will read through most of 2 Chronicles, nearing on the destruction of Judah and the people's exile to Babylon, as we already read in 2 Kings. At the end of 2 Chronicles, we will also see Cyrus, king of Persia, bring back the exiles from captivity and authorize the restoration of the temple. This occured in the 5th century B.C. under Ezra, who is traditionally thought to have written First Chronicles.