Tag Archives: 2 Kings

Through the Bible, May 23

Reading: 2 Kings 23:31-25:30; 2 Chronicles 36:13-21

Summary: After Josiah’s death, the people instated his son Jehoahaz on the throne.  But within three months the Egyptians arrived again, returning from the battle of Carchemish (see the reading introduction for May 20), and Neco took Jehoahaz prisoner and placed his brother, Eliakim, on the throne and changed his name to Jehoiakim.

During Jehoiakim’s reign, the Babylonians come and tribute is shifted from Egypt to Babylon.  After three years Jehoiakim rebels, Nebuchadnezzar returns and takes Jehoiakim as a prisoner to Babylon.  Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s son, rules in his stead.

During Jehoiachin’s reign, Babylon comes again and this time takes captives from among the nobles and princes, including the king.  This would have been the time that Daniel, Ezekiel, Mordecai and Esther were taken captive.  Jehoiachin’s uncle, Josiah’s son, Mattaniah, takes the throne and Nebuchadnezzar changes his name to Zedekiah.   When Zedekiah rebels against Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar returns one last time and destroys Jerusalem and takes all Judah captive.

During this entire time, Jeremiah has been prophesying telling the people of the upcoming captivity and to prepare themselves for it.   He actually is not taken captive and remains with a small group in Jerusalem ruled by a governor, Gedaliah.

Devotional Thought:

Problems God Can’t Fix

God can do anything, right?  Wrong.  Not that He lacks in any ability or power or that any other force exists that can defeat Him.  There have been some wrongs He could not right and some problems He could not fix.

For instance, when He finally brought the Babylonians to Jerusalem to destroy the city and take His people in captivity, it was only after “they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:16).

Did you catch that; “…until there was no remedy”?

A vital part of the “remedy” was the response of the people to God’s messengers and message.  They refused.  God couldn’t fix that.

Our problems, including our biggest problem, sin, is quite fixable by God.  He has made it absolutely and incomprehensibly possible.  But if we won’t respond, there is no remedy.  None.

The critical issue and the big question, after all that God has done, has everything to do with me.

Through the Bible, May 20

Reading: 2 Kings 22:1-23:30; 2 Chronicles 35:1-17

Summary: Though Judah was in a precipitous spiritual fall and Babylon was emerging as a serious threat, one last bright spot remained for the nation’s monarchy; king Josiah.  Repairing the damage caused by both his father and grandfather would not be easy, but he set himself to the task.  Even though the restoration efforts would not avert God’s judgment against Judah, Josiah pursued this noble task.

Given the king’s good character, the circumstances of his death are perplexing.  He confronted the Egyptian army passing through Judah and was killed in the ensuing battle.  Pharaoh Neco understood his efforts to be according to God’s will and warned Josiah not to oppose him.  Josiah ignored the warning and paid with his life (see 2 Chron. 35:20-27).  Incidentally, Egypt was going to Carchemish to aid Assyria in a last stand against emerging Babylon.  Assyria’s loss there marked the end of that empire.

Devotional Thought:

Proof of Heart

Josiah was good, very good.  He was one of the rare kings favorably compared with David in that he did not deviate from David’s way (2 Kings 22:2).

Of course, David served the Lord with “integrity of heart and uprightness” (1 Kings 9:4).  The interesting thing about Josiah is that this is said of him before the book of the Law of Moses was found in the temple during repairs and restoration (1 Kings 22:8ff). Second Chronicles points out that he began seeking the Lord in the eighth year of his reign, began reforms in the twelfth year, and the lost book of the Law was not recovered until the eighteenth year (2 Chron. 34:3, 8).

The real test for Josiah came after 10 years of seeking and serving God.  That’s when he was finally exposed to God’s will as revealed in His word.   What would Josiah do?  Make further changes and adjustments to his service to God and lead the people to do the same?  Or just expect God to accept what he was already doing based on his good heart?

Obviously, he chose to initiate further reforms and changes as per the actual word of God. His was not an attitude of, “Well, what we’ve been doing is good enough.  Besides, we’ve been doing it for ten years and we’ve been sincere and earnest.”

The genuineness of the integrity of Josiah’s heart is proven by what he did after learning what God’s word said.

A sincere heart is a fine thing, but neglecting God’s expressed will and relying solely on our good heart is a fool’s venture.

Through the Bible, May 18

Reading: 2 Kings 21; Nahum 1-3

Summary: It very well may be said that Manasseh was to Judah, what Ahab had been to Israel. Hezekiah’s wicked son undid so much of what his good father had done.  It is during his reign that God determines that Judah, too, will be punished as had Israel.  Also, like Ahab, Manasseh does repent and by the end of his reign he “knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chron. 33:12-13).  Unfortunately, his son, Amon, broke the pattern of alternating good and wicked kings by following in the evil ways of his father.

It is interesting that three of the Old Testament (literary) prophets’ messages were directed toward a foreign power; and two of them to the same people.  The first writing prophet, Jonah, had great success—to his own consternation—in his preaching to the city of Nineveh.  Nahum addresses the same people about a century later, but without his predecessor’s results. The third prophet is Obadiah (see May 30 reading introduction).

It should be remembered that Nineveh is the capital of the Assyrian empire, which had taken the nation of Israel captive.  Now, their own demise is immanent.  Babylon would replace Assyria in world domination and would soon also play a major role in Judah’s future.

Devotional Thought:

God is Not Simple

He cannot be understood, simply.  That’s not to say God cannot be understood.  And there are critically important things about God that are simple—radically simple; like the fact that He loves us.  The simplest mind can fully grasp that powerful reality.  He also is patient and kind and good, plus a whole lot more.

The problem comes when we begin to define His love and patience and goodness in ways that are quite human, not divine.

A case in point is His description in Nahum.  “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nah. 1:7).  In the verse immediately prior to that statement, the prophet speaks of God’s indignation, anger, and wrath (v. 6).

It’s not a contradiction, though it may appear to be a great inconsistency.  But that’s just it; it only appears that way.  Our trouble is that we cannot envision ourselves as both loving and good and patient while at the same time having great indignation, anger, and wrath.

Because I can’t, does not mean God can’t.  He’s not that simple.

Through the Bible, May 11

Reading: 2 Kings 18-20

Summary: It is remarkable to think of a man like Hezekiah taking the throne of Judah; one of outstanding character and zeal for God’s will having come from a home where his own brother was offered by their father as a sacrifice to a pagan god (2 Kings 16:3).  Perhaps Hezekiah recognized what happened to Israel and why (it fell during his fourth year of reigning in Judah).  He worked relentlessly to restore the temple and the nation back to their rightful place before God.  No wonder so much space in the biblical text is given to the record of this great king’s rule.

Devotional Thought:

Three Keys to Spiritual Success

That Hezekiah was truly one of Judah’s great kings is undeniable.  Simply stated, “there was none like him” (2 Kings 18:5).  So what clues do we have to the secret of this man’s greatness?  Several points are apparent.

1) He took personal responsibility and accountability for himself.  No doubt, Hezekiah came from a horrible spiritual background.  His father was deeply engaged in the worship of pagan deities, even offering some of Hezekiah’s brothers (we don’t know how many) as human sacrifices (2 Chron. 28:2).  Despite this evil influence, Hezekiah did what was right.  His upbringing was no excuse for doing anything but what was right.

2) God’s word dictated his actions, not tradition.  Too often, people do what they do—even spiritually and religiously speaking—only because that’s what has always been done.  Hezekiah stopped the traditional offering of incense to Nehushtan.  This was the actual bronze serpent Moses had made in the wilderness, at God’s instruction, to save the people from the fiery serpents He had sent as punishment for the people’s sin (Num. 21:8-9).  No doubt the destruction of this authentic historic relic and this generations-old practice raised some eyebrows.  But the bottom line it was not a religious practice from God. Period.

3) He not only did what was right, but he trusted God (2 Kings 18:3,5).  Some who obey God put their confidence (trust) in their obedience.  That is they feel God’s acceptance of them is based on doing right.  Doing right is important, but being right in our attitude and disposition toward God is even more important (1 Sam. 15:22; Hos. 6:6).

Hezekiah has much to offer, if we’re willing to learn, about spiritual success.

Through the Bible, May 10

Reading: Micah 1; 4:1-5; 5:1-6; 6:6-16; 7:18-20; 2 Kings 17

Summary: God sends one final prophet to Israel; Micah.  He is a contemporary of Hosea as well as Isaiah.  Though Micah does prophesy to Israel, he also addresses Judah.  Like Amos and Hosea before him he announces the fall of Israel, but in addition, he tells of the future destruction of Jerusalem.  Micah strongly denounces the injustices in the land and he also looks to the future Messianic kingdom.

Just as God had warned, the Assyrians arrive and overthrow Israel following a three-year siege on the capital city of Samaria.  The people are taken into exile and Judah is spared during this time only because wicked king Ahaz pays exorbitant tribute to their king, Shalmanezer.  At the time of Israel’s final fall, Hezekiah has succeeded his father Ahaz.  The time of the divided kingdom ends and Judah remains alone.

Devotional Thought:

Giving What I Want

In an episode of the old Andy Griffith Show, little Opie is trying to pick out a birthday present for Aunt Bea.  He can’t decide between the baseball cap or the salt and pepper shakers.

We’ve all done it haven’t we?  Given something to someone based on the fact that we like it or would want it for ourselves?  In that kind of giving, emphasis is placed on the giver, not the recipient.  It turns the whole “giving” concept on its ear.

We see the inappropriateness of it between ourselves, why can’t we see it with God?

Micah poses the question of what we should give to God.  Should it be burnt offerings, thousands of rams and rivers of oil, even my own child as a sacrifice for my sin? (Micah 6:6-7). Some or all of these may sound like appropriate, sacrificial, or meaningful offerings to God.  Maybe there are even others.  But the answer is, “No.”

It doesn’t matter how “good” I think the gift is.  Rather, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

It should be obvious, but apparently, it isn’t; the question is not what do I want or what would I like to give, or what do I think God should receive from me.  Instead, it is what has God says that He does want.

It’s all that matters.

Through the Bible, May 8

Reading: 2 Kings 15-16; 2 Chronicles 26:3-23; 28:8-15

Summary: Azariah becomes king of Judah following his father’s death.  He is also called by the name Uzziah.  His is quite a lengthy reign (52 years) and though he begins very well and God blesses him and the nation greatly, he also follows the pattern of both his father and grandfather, falling away from God.  The Chronicles record provides the details of his sinful pride and consequent leprosy.  So even prior to his death, his son, Jotham, began to reign alongside his father (called a co-regency).  Jotham proved faithful, but his son Ahaz did not and turned from God, even modeling the altar of the gods of the Assyrians and having it constructed and replaced with it the altar in the temple of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, in Israel, the dynasty of Jehu comes to an end with the assassination of Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II.  What follows is a series of coups in which one challenger to the throne after another seized power through assassination.  It begins with Shallum and is followed by Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah. The end for Israel is drawing very near.

Devotional Thought:

The Bible is So Backwards

Of all the wicked kings, both in Israel and Judah, nothing like this is said about any other.  Concerning Ahaz (Hezekiah’s father) we read that “he brought about a lack of restraint in Judah” (2 Chronicles 28:19; NASB).

It is interesting to see the various ways different translations handle this statement. It ranges from “he had made Judah act sinfully” (ESV, with a footnote of “wildly”), to “unleashed an epidemic of depravity” (The Message, technically a paraphrase, not a translation), to “he made Judah naked” (KJV), to “he had given up all self-control in Judah” (BBE).

There is a direct correlation between sin and self-restraint (rather the lack of it).  But self-restraint isn’t high on many people’s priority list.  Self-indulgence, though,  is a different story.  A popular philosophy of life (the most popular?) is that happiness, joy, and contentment are found in the pursuit of personal pleasure and desire.  If I want it, there’s only one sensible response; right?

Not surprisingly, God and the Bible say something different.  It’s not self-indulgence, it’s self-control; it isn’t self-serving, it’s self-denial (Gal. 5:23; Luke 9:23).  As counterintuitive as that may sound, just think of Jesus.  His entire existence was not about pursuing His own will, but God’s; it was not to be served but to serve (Matthew 26:39; Mark 10:45)

The Bible just always seems to have things backward; the way to exaltation is humility (Jas. 4:10), the way to get is to give (Luke 6:38), and the way to gain is to lose (Matt. 16:25).

As Ahaz proved, throwing off all restraints may seem like the path to pleasure and enjoyment, it really only leads to enslavement and misery.

Through the Bible, May 5

Reading: 2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25:1-28; Jonah

Summary: Amaziah, who takes the throne of Judah for his assassinated father, has a reign that in many ways mirror his father’s.   Like Joash, Amaziah begins well in his reign as king serving God.  Unfortunately, he also falls away from God, bringing the gods of the defeated Edomites to Jerusalem and worshiping them. God assures him that he will pay dearly for that sin and he does by being defeated in battle by Israel and eventually dying at the hands of conspirators from his own people.

Jeroboam, the son of Joash of Israel, takes the throne and begins a lengthy reign in the capital, Samaria.  God uses Jeroboam (sometimes called “Jeroboam II” to distinguish him from the first king of Israel) to restore Israel’s borders. This was according to the prophecy of Jonah.  Yes, this is the same Jonah for whom the book is named.  He is the first of the literary (writing) prophets.

Devotional Thought:

Jonah’s Biggest Problem Wasn’t a Fish

      Jonah didn’t like God’s grace.

Obviously what we remember about Jonah most is his bizarre involvement with the great fish, but the story goes far beyond that.  It even goes beyond his incredibly successful preaching efforts in Nineveh.  The story ends with God addressing Jonah’s extreme displeasure that He would graciously spare the Ninevites (Jonah 4:1).

To Jonah’s thinking Nineveh (the capital of the Assyrian empire) should be punished by God, not saved.  God’s grace made Him angry.

It’s not that Jonah was pitiless.  It was just misdirected.  As the prophet waited outside the city to see what would happen, in a booth constructed for that purpose, God caused a plant to grow up over the booth and shade Jonah.  As he had been “exceedingly angry” with God, he was now “exceedingly glad” for the plant (Jonah 4:1,6).

The next day God sent a worm that killed the plant.  The shade was gone and the sun and scorching wind caused Jonah to faint.  Again, the prophet is angry.

God observed that Jonah pitied the plant for which he had not worked or in any way caused to grow, and He was angry with God for His pity over innocent (apparently children) human lives (Jonah 4:10-11).  That’s just not right.

If the thought of God’s mercy and grace upon those whom I think God should punish upsets me, then something just isn’t right–and it isn’t God.

Through the Bible, May 4

Reading: 2 Kings 11-13; 2 Chronicles 24:1-22

Summary: The blood bath of yesterday’s reading is not over. Upon seeing her son, Ahaziah the king of Judah, and her brother, Joram king of Israel, killed by Jehu, Athatliah moves quickly to seize power in Judah.  To do so she must eliminate the living heirs to the throne, which would be her grandsons.  She arranges for the murder of them all; or so she thinks.  One infant son, Joash, is rescued and hidden for seven years in the temple until the priest Jehoida could arrange for Athaliah’s overthrow and instating the rightful king.

Joash proves far different than his father or grandfather as he works to restore the temple.  The Chronicles account tells us that this was due to the influence of Jehoida as the king turned to idolatry following the good priest’s death.

Jehoahaz succeeds his father Jehu on Israel’s throne and his son Jehoash (also called Joash) reigns following him.  It is during the reign of Jehoash of Israel that Elisha dies.

Devotional Thought:

Sin Isn’t Pretty

Sin is awful.  Sin is ugly.  Sin is gross.  Sin is mean.  Sin is sinister.  Sin is hurtful.  Sin is…

And it’s not only the sinner who suffers.  That is part of the reason sin is all of the above, and more.

Think about Athaliah.  What an example of sin at its worst.  A woman so bent on self-promotion and power that she, without feeling, would murder all of her own grandsons.    That is a cold, calloused, selfish, wicked heart.

But that’s not where it started.  Go back to her daddy, Ahab, who chose for himself a wife who incited him to do evil, more than any predecessor (1 Kings 16:33; 21:25).  There’s no wondering about the influences on her life as she grew up.

And don’t forget king Jehoshaphat of Judah who was a good king; mostly.  But he made a marriage alliance with Ahab.  Who knows what he was thinking—maybe that he could be a good influence on the king of Israel.  Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, married Ahab’s daughter—you guessed it—Athaliah.

When Jehoshaphat died and Jehoram became king, he killed all of his own brothers (2 Chron. 21:2-4).  Athaliah’s influence?  Who knows?

So, when Jehoram and Athaliah’s son Ahaziah is killed by Jehu, Athaliah moves quickly and ruthlessly.  But this wasn’t new to her.  Her innocent, dead grandchildren testify to the entangling, poisoning effect of sin.  It is a mess–a tragic, horrible mess.

Athaliah’s sin was her own, but not all her own.  It was also her husband’s, her father-in-law’s, her father’s and mother’s, and who knows whom else’s.

With good reason we are warned to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).

Through the Bible, May 3

Reading: 2 Kings 8:16-10:36; 2 Chronicles 21:1-21

Summary: Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram (sometimes also called Joram), becomes the king of Judah while Ahab’s son Joram (yes, both men have the same name and it can get confusing) still reigns in Israel.  Ahaziah then succeeds his father Jehoram in Judah. The interesting thing about Ahaziah—and important to remember—is that his mother is Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab.  This is the marriage alliance between Jehoshaphat and Ahab mentioned in 2 Chronicles 18:1 (Ahab’s daughter Athaliah to Jehoshaphat’s son Ahaziah) and the reason for the strangely close relationship between Israel and Judah during this time.  Athaliah will play a prominent role in tomorrow’s reading.

God’s delayed judgment against wicked Ahab is finally carried out through Jehu whom Elisha anoints as Israel’s next king and who had been identified years previous to Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:16).  Jehu’s work is quick and bloody.  He exterminates the surviving family of Ahab which includes the current king of Israel Joram—as well as Judah’s king Ahaziah at the same time, who, incidentally is also Ahab’s grandson being the son of Ahab’s daughter Athaliah—and seventy living sons of Ahab.  He also kills Jezebel—yes, she’s still living—and all the prophets and worshippers of Baal in Israel.

The Chronicles reading includes some information regarding Jehoram, king of Judah, not found in Kings.

Devotional Thought:

There’s a Reason God Does What He Does

Why does God do what He does?  How’s that for a loaded, impossible-to-answer question?

Let’s just think about this a minute.  Sometimes God does what He does because it is right.  God is right (you could use the word “righteous” here too).  This, in part, is why he punishes sin. It is just and it is fair and it is right to do so.

But God doesn’t always punish sin.  Stay with me here.

God did not punish King Jehoram of Judah as he deserved.  This son of Jehoshaphat was the worst king so far in Judah.  About him, the Bible says, “he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife.  And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 8:18).

There was little question of what he deserved.  “Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah for the sake of David his servant since he promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever” (2 Kings 8:19).  Notice why God did what He did, or rather didn’t do; because He had made a promise to David (see 1 Kings 11:36).

God’s word is sure.  It is part of who He is.  He does what He does because of that.  God treated His people the way He did not because they deserved it, but because of who He is and His relationship with them (see Deut. 7:7-9).

This applies to me too. Be careful about demanding from God what you deserve.  You won’t like that.  Rather appeal to His nature; there we can find grace and mercy and love.  That’s what I need and want.

Through the Bible, May 2

Reading: 2 Kings 6:1-8:15

Summary: Elisha remains the Bible’s point of focus during his life.  His varied activities involve causing iron to float, single-handedly thwarting an entire foreign army’s efforts,  foretelling future events, and weeping over the calamities that would befall God’s people.  Elisha has as much direct dealing with the king of Israel’s enemy, Syria, as he does with Israel’s own king.

Devotional Thought:

Seeing What You Can’t

We know the reality of many things we cannot see.  I can’t see the air or the wind, I can’t see electricity, I can’t see love.  I’m convinced they are real.  I have seen their affects and influences.  I’m sure of it.

Elisha’s servant feared the Syrian armies encircling them.  Elisha did not.  Elisha was convinced of God’s reality, His presence, and His protection.  The servant failed in such assurances.  To which Elisha prayed, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17).

In response, the servant was able to see the surrounding mountain full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha.  He no longer feared.

So Paul prayed for us “having the eyes of your heart enlightened” (Eph. 1:18).  Life would be quite different if we could just “see” the “hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”  Can you see it?

Faith really is “the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  We can, just as surely with Elisha’s servant, see what we cannot see.