2 Kings continues the history begun in 1 Kings. The books tell the story of a nation without leadership. It describes what happens when a nation passes from affluence and influence to poverty and paralysis. Kingdoms taken captive. Many scholars feel that the author may have been Jeremiah. The book of 2 Kings can be divided into 2 sections – section one ending in the captivity of Israel and section two ending in the captivity of Judah.
1. The Divided Kingdom
– 2 Kings 1-17
2. The Southern Kingdom
- a. The third dynasty in the Northern Kingdom – 2 Kings 1-9
- b. The fourth dynasty in the Northern Kingdom – 2 Kings 10-15:12
- c. Israel taken in captivity by Assyria – 2 Kings 15-17
– 2 Kings 18-25
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
- a. The reign of Hezekiah – 2 Kings 18-20
- b. The reign of Manasseh & Amon – 2 Kings 21
- c. The reign of Josiah – 2 Kings 22-23:30
- d. Judah taken in captivity by Babylon – 2 Kings 23:31-chapter 25
Jehoshaphat becomes king in Judah
Elijah begins to prophesy against Ahab
Elijah is taken to heaven in a chariot of fire; Elisha prophesies
Isaiah begins to prophesy in Judah
Ahaz begins to reign in Judah
Israel is taken captive by the Assyrians
Manasseh begins to reign in Judah
Josiah's reign begins in Judah
The Book of the Law is found in Jerusalem
Assyria's capital Nineveh falls to the Babylonians
Judah is taken captive by the Babylonians
PLACES OF INTEREST:
Abana and Pharpar Rivers
– Two great rivers in Syria. When Naaman was told to dip himself in the Jordan River, he referred to these great rivers in his home country. The Abana River flows through Damascus today and the Pharpar flows south of the city. (2 Kings 5:12)
– The name of an area derived from the city Asshur on the Tigris, the original capital of the country. Was originally a colony from Babylonia, and was ruled by viceroys from that kingdom. It was a mountainous region lying to the north of Babylonia, extending along the Tigris as far as the high mountain range of Armenia, the Gordiaean or Carduchian mountains. In 738 B.C., in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser III occupied Philistia and invaded Israel, imposing on it a heavy tribute (2 Kings 15:19). Ahaz, king of Judah, engaged in a war against Israel and Syria, and appealed for help to this Assyrian king by means of a present of gold and silver (2 Kings 16:8). He accordingly "marched against Damascus, defeated and put Rezin to death, and besieged the city itself."
– This was the name of the most ancient of Oriental cities. It was the capital of Syria (Isaiah 7:8, 17:3) located about 133 miles north of Jerusalem. There was a long string of wars, with varying success, between the Israelites and Syrians. Later they became allies of Israel against Judah (2 Kings 15:37). The Syrians were at length subdued by the Assyrians, the city of Damascus was taken and destroyed, and the inhabitants carried captive into Assyria (2 Kings 16:7-9; compare Isaiah 7:8). This city is memorable as the scene of Saul's conversion (Acts 9:1-25).
– Located about 45 miles from Ramoth Gilead, this town was settled by the tribe of Issachar. The city of Jezreel is located near the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley. Under Kings Omri and Ahab, Jezreel was chosen to be the Northern Kingdom's second capital. It was also the site of a confrontation between the prophet Elijah and King Ahab.
(2 Kings 9:15)
- Although alternate sites for the location of Ramoth Gilead have been suggested, the strongest evidence points to the site of Tel er Ramith, which is on the border of modern Syria. The city was situated in the frontier territory allotted to the tribe of Gad, in northern Gilead, near the ancient border of Israel and Syria. Ramoth Gilead's strategic location on the Transjordan Highway made it the site of several battles between the Northern Kingdom and Syria in the ninth century B.C. (2 Kings 8:28)
(the city and the region) – To the north, Samaria is bounded by the Esdraelon Valley, to the east by the Jordan River, to the west by the Carmel Ridge (in the north) and the Sharon plain (in the south), to the south by Judea (the Jerusalem mountains). Samarian hills are not very high, seldom reaching the height of over 2700 feet. Samaria's climate is more hospitable than the climate of Judea. Omri, the king of Israel, purchased this hill from Shemer its owner for two talents of silver, and built on its broad summit the city to which he gave the name of Samaria, as the new capital of his kingdom instead of Tirzah (1 Kings 16:24). This location possessed many advantages. Omri resided here during the last six years of his reign. When the land was captured by the Assyrians, they repopulated the area with captured foreigners from other lands. Later, in the time of Jesus, the Jewish people looked down on these "Samaritans."
– The capital city of Moab. Located about 11 miles east of the Dead Sea and 15 miles south of the Arnon River. (2 Kings 3:25)
– This was a small town in the land of the tribe of Issachar. It was to the north of Jezreel and south of Mount Gilboa. In previous Israel history, it was where the Philistines encamped when they came against Saul (1 Sam 28:4). In 2 Kings, it is where Elisha was treated kindly and entertained by a rich woman of the city.
PEOPLE OF INTEREST:
( Southern Kingdom) - Son of Joash, he became king of Judah in 796 B.C., and ruled 29 years. He executed those who had killed his father Joash. He challenged the Northern Kingdom to battle and was badly beaten, and was also assassinated like his father. (2 Kings 14:1; 2 Chronicles 25:27)
(Southern Kingdom) - He was the first king to hear Isaiah's prophecy about the virgin birth (see Isaiah 7:14). He began his rule in 735 B.C. at age 20 and was king in the south for 16 years. Even though he had Isaiah and Micah around as prophets, he was a wicked king who refused to hear their message. He worshipped false gods and sacrificed his own children. (2 Kings 16:1)
(Southern Kingdom) - Ruled the Southern Kingdom beginning in 841 B.C. upon the death of his father Jehoram. He reigned for only one year—the shortest of any king of Judah. He came from a bad family line. His grandmother was Jezebel and his mother was the equally wicked Athaliah. He was killed by Jehu. (2 Kings 8:25)
(Southern Kingdom) - He began his reign in 642 B.C. and lasted only two years. Like his father Manasseh, he was wicked and his servants rose up and killed him. (2 Kings 21:19)
– One of the kings of Assyria who moved non-Israelite foreigners into the now de-populated Northern Kingdom. They would intermarry with the remaining Jews in the land. This was the beginning of the Samaritans. (2 Kings 17:24)
(Southern Kingdom) - She was the only woman ruler of either the Northern or Southern Kingdoms. She began her six-year rule in 841 B.C. after the death of her son Ahaziah. When she assumed power, she had all of her grandchildren executed except Joash, because his mother Jehosheba, hid him. She was married to the high priest Jehoiada. Athaliah was eventually arrested and executed. (2 Kings 11:1)
– Ruled in Damascus Syria around 801 B.C. He was the son of Hazael. He was defeated a couple of times by the Northern Kingdom. Jehoash recaptured the land from Ben-Hadad and Joash defeated him three times (2 Kings 13:24-25).
– After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of the prophets, and became noted in Israel. God granted Elisha's request for "a double portion" of Elijah's spirit (2 Kings 2:9), and for sixty years (892-832 B.C.) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2 Kings 2:9 & 5:8).
– An unknown prophetess in the land. Her husband, Shallum, was the wardrobe keeper for King Josiah. She was the one who confirmed the genuineness of the Law of Moses when it was found by Hilkiah the priest. (2 Kings 22:14)
– A prince of Judah, a rebel from the line of David who fled to the Ammonites when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans. Soon after, he returned and assassinated Gedaliah the governor who had been selected by Nebuchadnezzer (2 Kings 25:25).
(Southern Kingdom) - The second son of Josiah, he ruled for only three months. He was taken out of power by Egypt's Pharaoh Necho and his older brother Jehoiakim was placed on the throne. He was carried off to Egypt where he later died. (2 Kings 23:31)
(Northern Kingdom) - The son of Jehu, he ruled in Israel for 17 years, beginning in 814 B.C. He repented of the sins of his fathers, but his repentance did not last long. (2 Kings13:1)
(Northern Kingdom) - Son of Jehoahaz, he was rebuked by Elisha as he lay on his deathbed. He began his 16-year rule in 798 B.C.(2 Kings 13:10)
(Southern Kingdom) - This son of Jehoiakim reigned only three months in 597 B.C. He was carried off to Babylon. A special curse was put on this king. (2 Kings 24:8)
(Southern Kingdom) - Began his reign in 609 B.C. and ruled for 11 years. During this time, he became a vassel king for the invading Nebuchadnezzar. After three months in this position, he rebelled.(2 Kings 23:34)
(Northern Kingdom) - He began his 12-year reign in 852 B.C. He was Ahab's youngest son and much took place under his reign. He was king when Naaman visited Elisha to be healed, and he was there when all of Samaria was saved through the work of four lepers. However, he was killed by Jehu, a former commander and chariot driver for Ahab.(2 Kings 3:1)
– She was the wife of the high priest Jehoiada. When Athaliah was killing all the heirs to the throne, she saved Joash and hid him from his power-grabbing grandmother. He would later become king due to the heroic action taken by Jehosheba. (2 Kings 11:2-3)
(Northern Kingdom) – Ruled for 28 years beginning in 841 B.C. He was the founder of the 5th and longest dynasty in the Northern Kingdom. Jehu became a very bloody leader. He executed Ahaziah while he was visiting from the Southern Kingdom, and he also killed Jehoram, Jezebel, the priest of Baal, and Ahab's 70 sons. (2 Kings 9:29)
– The wicked wife of the wicked King Ahab, she was a Baal-worshipping princess from Phoenicia. 1 Kings 21:23 predicted her violent death and her remains being eaten by the dogs. (2 Kings 9:30-37)
(Northern Kingdom) - He was the son of Jeroboam II and the last king to rule from the dynasty of Jehu. He reigned a short six months in 753 B.C. before being murdered by a man named Shallum. (2 Kings14:29)
A man being lowered into his own grave – There was a group of Israelites who were in the process of burying a man when they were interrupted by a band of raiders. They threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb and ran away. When the man's body came in contact with Elisha's bones the man became alive again and jumped to his feet. He is not mentioned again (2 Kings 13:21).
The widow's oil – Olive oil was an essential ingredient in just about every aspect of daily life at this time. In cooking, olive oil was poured into a pan to prevent the meat or bread from sticking. Oil was mixed with flour to make bread dough. The lamps of most houses burned with oil-soaked wicks. Minor injuries were rubbed with light oils to help the healing process. Wealthy people would bath with oil to heal aches and pains. Women rubbed oil onto their skin to replenish moisture in the dry, hot desert climate. The kings of both Judah and Israel were anointed with oil. (2 Kings 4:1-7)
How oil was made – The most common type of oil used in Palestine was olive oil. The ripe olives were at first partially squeezed to remove the seeds. After that, to remove the remaining oil, they were pressed with a heavy stone or trampled on by foot. One olive tree yielded about 10 gallons of oil per year. Since it was so expensive, the olives were sometimes squeezed three or four times. Each time it was pressed, the oil lost some of its purity. (2 Kings 4:1-7)
A room for Elisha – Elisha was a traveling prophet always moving throughout the land. At Shunem, a woman was concerned for Elisha and set up a room that he would be able to stay in while he was in that area. This room was built on the roof of their house. This would allow the room to be cool and bright. The location also allowed for privacy. (2 Kings 4:8-17)
The life of a leper (Naaman) – Until healed, a leper lived as an outcast in a society. Though not hated, he was greatly feared. Therefore he would often be driven from town and forced to live in caves. While this seems cruel, it was the only way to protect the healthy segment of the city. Naaman, since he was not an outcast, probably had a milder form of leprosy. Sometimes it took 10 to 20 years to heal from leprosy – but most would not live that long. (2 Kings 5:1-19)
Cosmetics – Before Jezebel was killed, she went in and put on her makeup. What did she do? Women of her day painted their faces with bright colors and drew heavy dark lines around their eyes. These colors came from iron or copper ore mixed with water. Ancient fingernail polish came from a dye made from the flower of the henna plant. It was actually a stain. (2 Kings 9:30)
Rimmon, a god of Syria – In the land of Syria, just north of Israel, the people worshiped a god named Rimmon. He was known as the god of storms and rain. It was in the temple of Rimmon that Naaman would worship (2 Kings 5:18).
Heavenly Father, thank you for hungry hearts and a warm place where we can gather together and enjoy the warmth of Your spirit, the encouragement of fellowship and the joy that comes just by being with each other and seeing Christ displayed in so many different lives and in so many different ways. Lord, there're a lot of different spiritual levels represented here tonight, from recently saved to veterans in the faith. There're different age groups, physically that are represented but we trust Lord that Your Spirit can break through any barrier, address any need and speak to any of us at our level and at our place in life. We pray that You do that. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
By reading USA Today, I noticed that American Idol started last night. I've always been intrigued by that title, by the way. It's sort of a very honest title and admission: American idolatry. The opening program is the one where they highlight all of the rejects and yet it is one of their most highly rated programs. The title of the USA Today article was, "Idol Starts Out Bad, and Fans Love It." It's interesting and here's a sentence from it: "TV shows usually don't boast about how bad they can be but that's the big selling point for American Idol's hugely popular season opening auditions." As you know if you have seen the program, they mix the very bad and the very good. They show the ones who have been accepted and are going to make it to the next level and the ones who are really bad but for some reason think they are good and they get in and it's very entertaining.
This period of Israel's history in the book of 2 Kings is similar to that. You have a mix of the very good and the very bad. You've got great kings; not many but some and you've got a lot of very bad kings. So it's almost like we have parallel tracts of degeneration and regeneration; and of unrighteousness and righteousness. The book, A Tale of Two Cities begins, "It was the best of times and it was the worst of times;" two parallel tracts. This is a tale not of two cities but of two kingdoms, two countries and if you remember from the last study in 1 Kings the big event is the division of the kingdom. It's not a united monarchy with one king reigning over the country; it is split from north to south. Ten tribes in the north, which is the nation of Israel and the two tribes in the south, the nation of Judah with Jerusalem as the capital. The big event in 1 Kings is the division of the kingdom. The big event in 2 Kings is the collapse of the kingdom or you might say the captivity. There are a couple of different super powers and there will be the taking over of these two kingdoms in the north and in the south. I'm going to give you a division of the book very simply into two slices. Basically what you have here and if you have read some of the chapters you know that there are a lot of lists of names of kings and a couple of prophets, which we will meet in this study. But you have a list of kings and how long they reigned and something notable about them and you'll notice that it will tell you who reigns in the north and then who reigns in the south and if they intersect or interact at all. It's just sort of follows that through but there is a distinct division in 2 Kings. Chapters 1 through 17 is the first division and chapters 18 through 25 is the second division. You can call that first section, "The Struggling Kingdoms," (plural). The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah are struggling. Sometimes they are going down and sometimes they are going up because the prophet will speak to them and there will be a mild period of repentance and then they go back down. Sometimes they are fighting each other. Then in chapters 18 through 25 is the surviving kingdom (singular). So we have the struggling kingdoms and the surviving kingdom which is Judah. I say it survived because the kingdom of Israel will go into captivity and the kingdom of Judah will survive for a period of about 150 years but the book ends where it finally collapses as well.
Something to note about God (and you see it in the ministry of two notable prophets) is that God is a pursuing God. He is a merciful God and before He judges He loves to reach out. He loves to give people as many chances as is possible before He ultimately judges them. Though it's repeated here, it doesn't happen just here, you see it repeated as a theme throughout the Scriptures. God pronounces a judgment and gives a warning but before He ultimately judges, it's as if He reaches His hand out and says, "Now, let's consider this. You don't have to go in that direction. It can be changed and you can turn around." That's a theme we see even in the New Testament. One of the most notable examples of that is with a fellow by the name of Judas Iscariot; the one who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver; the one who had prearranged the arrest of Christ even before the last supper. That is why I find it interesting that at the last supper Judas was sitting to Jesus' left. If anybody knows ancient Middle East customs, the honored guest was at the right hand and at the left hand of the master and you only get there by invitation. So before the supper, I'm sure Jesus walked up to Judas and said, "Judas, I want you sitting right next to me buddy; at my left hand." That's why Jesus said, "The one that I give the sup to," and it's typical at Passover to take a piece of the bread and dip it in that bitter herb sauce and pass it to the left; He gave it to Judas. It was as if He was reaching out. "I know what you are doing and I know what you are about and you don't have to go this direction." As He got up, Jesus, finally said to him, "Whatever you do, do it quickly."
Something to note is that in spite of these kingdoms struggling and the one surviving and in spite of these kings going from bad to worse, there are two prophets and their names are similar: Elijah and Elisha. It's as if God sends them in the midst of a faltering kingdom to defibrillate the heart; that's the only term I can really think of. They are failing, they are having heart failure and these prophets come in and try to defibrillate the heart and revive the patient, but it's too late. So you have some wicked kings but you also have some great messengers that come and we'll notice them especially in the first eight chapters.
Let's begin in chapter 1. This is the struggling kingdoms of Israel in the north and Judah in the south. As we begin in chapter 1, we are beginning with the end of Elijah's ministry and the beginning of Elisha's ministry. Most people get these two prophets mixed up because their names sound so similar and that's because that's what they sound like in English. In Hebrew it would be very easy to tell the difference. The first prophet is Eliyahu and the second one is Eliyshah. But in English they sound very similar to each other but they are very different and we'll read about that succession in this study. In chapter 1 verse 8 we see a description of Elijah the prophet. By the way, the chapter opens up with Ahaziah who is the king in the north. Jehoram is the king in the south as the book opens and Elijah and Elisha will interact with them. Verse 8 describes Elijah and he is called: "A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist." It sounds like Bigfoot! "And he said, 'It is Elijah the Tishbite.'" Turn to chapter 2 verse 1: "And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal." Verse 9: "And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, 'Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?' Elisha said, 'Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.'" What does a double portion mean? Simply this. "I want to be your successor. I want that same Spirit of God that is operating so powerfully in your life that allows you to not operate in your own strength but see God's continual power. I want that; I want to continue where you leave off." The idea of a double portion comes from the laws of inheritance. Back in the Torah, the first five books of Moses, the first born son got a double portion of dad's inheritance. That was his right as he was going to become the successor in that family as a leader. So that's the idea of it. It doesn't mean, "I want twice as much as what you have." The idea is that "I want to succeed where you leave off." Verse 10: "So he said, 'You have asked a hard thing.'" That's an interesting thing to say. "Hey, I want to operate by the same spirit and power that you do; I want the double portion; I want that law of inheritance from you." "Well, you've asked a hard thing!" Why would he say that? Because, frankly it's hard to be a prophet. As you read about their stories and their lives you can see that being a spokesperson for the Lord to a nation is difficult. I would even say this to anyone who says, "I want to be in the ministry. I want to be a pastor." I would say, "What you ask is a hard thing; it's not easy to do that." Notice what he says after that: "'Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.' Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." It's wild, I'll admit it, and it's better than American Idol! He's taken up into heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah does not die. This makes him an exception to the rule where it says, "It's appointed unto every man once to die and after this the judgment." This guy doesn't die. Now, I believe that he ultimately will die. It's my personal belief that just like the long standing Jewish tradition that Elijah will come that he indeed will come as it says in the last chapter of the Old Testament, chapter 4 of Malachi, "That God will send Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord," (that's that final epic of judgment in the tribulation period), "and he will turn the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children." I believe that it's very possible that we see Elijah mentioned in the book of Revelation. I'm going to briefly read Revelation chapter 11 and it concerns the two witnesses that come in the tribulation period and look at their description; verse 5: "If anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies." You've heard of bad breath? This is deadly breath! "And if anyone wants to harm them he must be killed in this manner. They have power to shut heaven so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy," (which incidentally is 3 1/2 years), "and they have power over waters to turn them to blood and to strike the earth with all plagues as often as they desire. When they had their testimony the beast that rises up out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them." The question is always, "Well, who are these two strange witnesses?" It's my belief and it's very possible that it's none other than the prophet Elijah and Moses the law giver who return as a testimony. It would be the greatest testimony to the Jewish nation; Moses the great law giver and the greatest of all prophets to the Jewish nation, Elijah. It would be the final bright light before the final Day of Judgment at Armageddon occurs. I make that statement based on a few clues: Number one is the past. If you think back in your Old Testament to some of the things that Moses and Elijah did, it's very similar. For instance, in 1 Kings chapter 18, Elijah brings fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifices. Also, in 2 Kings chapter 1 when the king demands that Elijah be brought before him he sends 50 men to go get Elijah and they look up to him as he is sitting up on a hill and say, "You, man of God, come down here because the king wants to see you." Elijah says, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and wipe you guys out." Fire fell from heaven and all 50 of them died. Another group is dispatched and the same thing happens. A third group comes and the leader of the third group finally says, "Please spare our lives! Please come down and talk to the king." So he does but fire falls down from heaven. Then also back in the Old Testament, Moses turned the Nile River into blood and brought all sorts of plagues; a similar description as we see in Revelation 11. So the first clue is the past and the second is that prophecy that I mentioned in Malachi chapter 4. "Elijah will come," and even Jesus who said that John the Baptist is a partial fulfillment turned to His disciples and said, "Elijah will," (future tense) "still come." Even to this day at Passover, the Jews leave the door open and a chair at the Passover table for Elijah, just in case he would happen to show up at their Passover. A third clue is New Testament precedence. For them to come again is already established in two of the Gospels when Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, two persons were transfigured with Him and they were Moses and Elijah. That's found in Matthew 17 and in Mark chapter 19. Moses and Elijah appear with Christ and they are speaking about the Kingdom. Then finally, their passing and the way they died is a clue. As I said, Elijah didn't die; he was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind. Moses died and the Bible says in Deuteronomy, "God buried Him and nobody knows where his body was." When we get to the New Testament we read a very strange passage in the book of Jude verse 9 that says: "Michael the Archangel in contending with the devil when he disputed about the body of Moses." It's an odd Scripture. We have insight into the fact that you have an angel of God and Satan fighting over a dead corpse. I would look at that and think, "What's the point of this argument?" Unless of course, God wanted to use the body of Moses for some future purpose: i.e. resurrection and bringing him back as a testimony with Elijah in the tribulation period to speak to the people of Israel and 144,000 of them will be saved. It's a very interesting thought, is it not?
Elisha, the second dude and the guy that asked for the double portion, not only does a lot of miracles that are recorded here (we'll only touch on a couple) but he also confronts the kings of Israel and Judah. In chapter 3 he confronts King Jehoram down in Judah.
In chapter 4 we have a couple of little highlighted stories and a couple of cameos of the prophet Elisha and some of the miracles that he worked. One is with a poor widow and the other is with a Shunemite woman (I'll explain those terms in a minute.) The chapter opens up with a widow. Her husband died, the creditors want money, and she is left destitute. Finally the creditors come and threaten to take her sons and sell them into slavery. Now enters the prophet Elisha who says, "I'll tell you what to do. Go get a container of oil and bring it into your house. Get as many empty containers that you can from all your neighbors and bring them inside the house and close the door. Take whatever little oil you have and start pouring it. She poured it and it miraculously filled up all of the empty vessels that she had and then Elisha said, "Now sell them and you'll be able to live off of that income and pay off your creditors."
Also in that chapter is a story about a couple living up in Shunem and the Shunemite woman. There was a husband and wife up in a little village up north called Shunem that was up in the northern coast of Galilee. It seems that they saw Elisha the prophet traveling a lot. The woman said to her husband, "You know what we ought to do honey? We should prepare a little guest room for this guy so that when he is in town he can stay in the guest bed and we can give him food and take care of him." They outfitted this little room and Elisha stayed there whenever he was in town. As a sort of reward he prophesized that this couple who didn't have a child would within a year's time have a baby boy and miraculously that occurred. A baby boy was born and he started growing up and one day while he was out in the field he grew faint and grabbed his head. He had some kind of a splitting headache, we don't know if it was sunstroke or what, and he fell over and was presumed dead! She was so upset that the child that God gave her was now dead and she searches for the prophet Elisha. In chapter 4 verse 27 they didn't find Elisha but they found his servant: "Now when she came to the man of God at the hill, she caught him by the feet, but Gehazi came near to push her away. But the man of God said, 'Let her alone; for her soul is in deep distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me, and has not told me.'" So here is the prophet Elisha saying, "You know, this woman is really troubled and for some reason God hasn't told me what is troubling her." The reason I'm pointing this out is because can you imagine being so in tune with God that you are surprised when He doesn't reveal something to you that is going on in a person's life? This was shocking Elisha. "I should now about this! This should be on my radar screen but God hasn't revealed it to me!" It is revealed by the woman and Elisha comes and spreads himself over the child and he breaths on the child and the child comes back to life.
In chapter 5 is a great story about Naaman who was a field commander for the Syrian army. Though he was a powerful man he had a dreaded disease for that time, some kind of a skin outbreak all under the category of leprosy; he was a leper and he didn't know what to do. In his household he had an Israeli slave girl who knew about Elisha and said, "If only my master could get a hold of Elisha the prophet who is living in Samaria, I know that my master could be healed." Naaman hears about that and goes down to meet Elisha the prophet. Chapter 5, verse 9: "Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha's house." Picture the scene. He's a dignitary and he's come not only on his steed but he no doubt has a lot of people with him. He's a field commander. It's typically customary that if some dignitary shows up you go out to greet him; it's common protocol. It seems that Elisha the prophet didn't follow common protocol. He didn't care about any dignitary. He's a servant of God after all so why should he pander to some human dignitary? Verse 10: "And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, 'Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.'" So Elisha doesn't come and say, "Good to meet you. I heard so much about you! You're such a wonderful guy!" Instead, he just said to his messenger, "Just go tell him that if he wants to fix this problem to go dunk in the Jordan seven times and he'll be clean." "But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, 'Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'" You have a commander with an expectation of a man of God, "I expect him to come out and do this." But Elisha didn't do it and didn't fulfill his expectations. He goes on to say: "'Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?' So he turned and went away in a rage." The Jordan River is like the Rio Grande on a bad day. It has some beautiful spots but there are some places where it's really narrow and muddy. The Jordan River up where they were was just this muddy little stream. It wasn't like the mighty Mississippi or even like these rivers that he mentioned. It's like a little puddle and it's really brown and muddy. So we can imagine this great commander shows up and Elijah doesn't even show up and just says, "Go give him a message; go tell him to go dunk in that dirty, muddy river seven times and he'll be fixed." He gets angry and thinks, "You want me to just go in the water? I could have done that up at home! This is ridiculous!" Elisha the prophet through God's power is going to have this man healed but it brings up a very interesting and an important principle: God's people do come with expectations of some things to happen; or for men, or women or leaders of God to perform certain ways and they can be disappointed when those expectations aren't met. For instance, and this is just an example. Somebody will come into a counseling office and say, "We are having problems in our marriage." If it's a good counselor he will quickly assess the situation and give Biblical principles on how that couple can change their relationship and hence fix the problem. Some people don't want the problem fixed as much as they want to be coddled; "Just understand and pat me on the back." There is room for that and the Bible even says that we are to encourage each other. However, as it is with Naaman, so it can be said with us. Do you want to be coddled or do you want to be cured? You want me to come out and wave my hand and make you feel really good or do you want this problem fixed? If you want the problem fixed, get in that muddy, crazy little river and it will work. I can just picture Naaman. He reluctantly says okay and walks in the river and he dunks one time and people are looking at him and maybe his men are snickering at him. He goes down once but he has to do it six more times. He comes up and is all wet and thinks how ridiculous this is and goes down again. He's still wet and has mud hanging off all over him. On that seventh time he came up and he was healed. It was miraculous. No he didn't get the personal attention that he wanted the prophet to give him but he was cured and the problem went away.
In chapters 6 through 8 there are more of Elisha's miracles as God is providing a witness to the nation. I'm taking you now to chapter 8 verse 16 and I'm purposely taking you to certain sections because in the Bible from 30,000 Feet I want you to not only get the overall picture but I want you to see how the New and Old Testament intertwine. Chapter 8 verse 16 gives insight into the covenant that God makes. "Now in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab, king of Israel, Jehoshaphat having been king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat began to reign as king of Judah. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem." At first he served as co-king with his father Jehoshaphat; then his dad died and he continued the reign without him. Verse 18: "And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord would not destroy Judah, for the sake of His servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever." Jehoram happened to be the king that introduces Baal worship into the southern kingdom. Just like his father-in-law, Ahab introduced Baal worship with Jezebel into the northern kingdom. Jehoram introduces this idolatrous pagan worship into Jerusalem and all of Judah. Back in the Old Testament in the book of Genesis, God promised that the tribe of Judah would be kept and preserved because the Messiah would come through that tribe. In Genesis 49 it says: "The Scepter will not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes"; and that's a Messianic prophesy; Judah would be protected. With that in mind, get ready for some spiritual warfare here because the narrative goes on and we have more kings that are displayed and mentioned here in the north and in the south; more intrigue; and more warfare.
We're going to skip to chapter 11 and past some of the names and some of the intrigue to a very key verse. Verse 1: "When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs." Everyone who could succeed from the house of David in the tribe of Judah and become the king; destroying all of the royal heirs and wiping out the bloodline. "But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed." So everybody was killed except one. "So he was hidden with her in the house of the Lord for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land." Eventually this guy will become the king of Judah. Think about this. From a human perspective, this is a close call for salvation history. It reveals a very intense spiritual battle that is happening. On the human level, the lineage of King David, the royal heirs were almost wiped out. Spiritually and Messianically that means that it would hinder the Messiah's coming. What if all of them were destroyed? Yet the prophecies say that someone from the seed of David will become the Savior of the world. If you don't have a royal seed any longer and they are all destroyed, God's promises will be thwarted.
Back in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve fell and the serpent deceived our first parents and they sinned, God gave a prediction. He said to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you, Satan and the woman, between your seed and her seed, He (ultimately Jesus Christ) shall bruise or crush your head and you, Satan, will bruise his heel." The prediction is that eventually a male child is going to be born who will crush Satan's power while at the same time the best that Satan will do is bruise Jesus Christ. Jesus died on a cross but that paid for the sins of the world. Ever since that prediction, it was Satan's counter attack to discover who the royal seed is going to be so he could destroy Him. This answers a lot of questions for us. For instance: Why did Cain kill Abel? Because Abel was the righteous seed of Adam and Eve. So Satan inspired Cain to kill Abel so that seed was removed. Then God raised up Seth and the line continued through Seth. Secondly, Satan created such havoc on earth that the whole world was judged by God in the flood. God destroyed the entire world except for one family and that was Noah and his seed and the lineage continued. Here's a third point. Satan motivated Esau to destroy Jacob, Isaac's promised son. Here's another example. Pharaoh came up with the bright idea, "Hey let's kill all of the male Hebrew children. When the Hebrew's have their babies if it's a male kill it and throw it in the river and if it's a girl let it live." What was that all about? It was Satan's attempt to destroy all of the seed of the Jews so that the Messiah would be hindered from coming. We continue on in history and we find that Saul tried to destroy David. 1 and 2 Samuel record several instances of that; to destroy the Messianic line. Another one is Haman in the book of Esther. He puts out this weird edict to destroy all of the Jews in the land; a mass genocide in another attempt to destroy the royal seed. Now Athaliah, this crazy woman says, "Let's take the entire royal household and kill them all," because she wants to be in charge and have no competition. But she is inspired by Satan so that God's promises couldn't be fulfilled. You follow that all the way through the Bible and you come to the New Testament and you have Herod the Great saying that all of the male children in Bethlehem should be killed which is another attempt to kill Jesus Christ. In Luke chapter 4 Jesus goes into the synagogue and says, "I'm the fulfillment of the Scripture" and they take Him out to a brow of the hill upon which the city was built and try to throw Him over and He escapes from their midst. At the temptation of Jesus Christ, Satan takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and says, "Jump! If You're really the Son of God He will send His angels to protect You!" All of these suggestions and attempts are a definite counterattack to destroy God's promised Messiah. When you put it in that frame, it puts a whole different view on anti-Semitism. It gives it a whole different complexion; it's satanically inspired. Here's the premise. What if God's promise of redemption required the existence of a nation and the continuance of that nation? That would mean then that if Satan could destroy that nation, he would have thwarted God's plan. That's a heavy statement and that is exactly what we see in the Scripture and it is all summarized in Revelation chapter 12. So here with Athaliah is one of those examples where there is the attempt to destroy the royal seed but it doesn't happen. One of them is kept and becomes the next king and the lineage continues.
Chapter 12, verse 1: "In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash became king, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. Jehoash did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him." A priest becomes a mentor to a political figure and I love that. Because of this man's mentoring and influence, you now have a Godly king, one of the few, who is living by the book and living according to the Spirit of God. A politician with a spiritual heart. However, in verse 3: "But the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places." As long as Jehoiada the priest was alive, King Jehoash did okay. As soon as Jehoiada, his spiritual mentor died, his spiritual life fell apart. 2 Chronicles, chapter 24, verse 17 gives us the rest of the story: "Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen." The lesson is interesting and sobering: If your faith in God needs to be propped up by other people, what happens when those props are taken away? Don't get me wrong, we all need encouragement, instruction and example but if you are relying on people rather than the relationship with God and those props are taken away, your spiritual life could collapse. That's why we all need our own relationship, our own time, and our own interaction with God; so that we can help others along.
Chapter 14, verse 23: "In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin." (So we have two different Jeroboams mentioned.) "He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher." I'm showing you that Jonah is mentioned in the Old Testament apart from the book of Jonah. When you mention Jonah of course people think of the story of the great fish and being swallowed and going to Nineveh. What 2 Kings shows us is that this prophet had a ministry of revival and preaching to the northern kingdom. He was a prophet used by God even before he was sent to Nineveh from Israel and he was ministering in that quadrant of the land. I bring this up for a couple of reasons. Number one, some people have a tough time with the whole idea of the existence of Jonah the prophet. They say, "He's probably a myth and it probably didn't happen. It's probably some Old Testament myth just like there are Greek myths. This is probably an old Hebrew myth about a big fish that swallowed a dude and it's just not true." Others say that it's probably an allegory. It's a great story but it's simply an allegory where the great fish in the story of Jonah represents Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians and Jonah represents the people of Israel and Nebuchadnezzar was going to come in and swallow the people of Israel and destroy them. Or some will say that what probably happened was that there was a guy named Jonah who went on a boat and had a wild dream about this great fish coming and swallowing him. So it's either a myth, an allegory or a dream. Here we know that the prophet Jonah existed historically; he was an historical figure and he really lived. Apart from that, we have the words from Jesus Christ who looking back to the Old Testament said, "As Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." He is staking His death, burial, and resurrection on a historical Jonah who lived and went through all of those things. Now we find out that he was a prophet in Israel even before the whole incident with the great fish.
By the way, notice where he is from. It says Gath Hepher. That is Galilee and I bring that up because if you remember in the New Testament when Jesus was introduced to some of the Pharisees and Scribes and they said, "This is Jesus of Nazareth," and they answered, "Galilee? No prophet has arisen from Galilee." These were Bible scholars who apparently had forgotten all about this text. If they had just done their research and boned up a little bit on the Old Testament they would have remembered that Jonah was from Gath Hepher, a region in Galilee, and so was their Messiah, Jesus.
Chapter 15 is a story about King Uzziah. Some of you will remember that name. Here he is called Azariah. Sometimes there are two different names for the same dude so it gets a little confusing. Azariah is mentioned here but he is called Uzziah in some of the rest of the chapters here and in other places. Verse 1: "In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah the son of Amaziah, king of Judah, became king. He was sixteen years old when he became king." Is that frightening? What if a candidate running for president was 16 years of age? Would you vote for him? Well this guy was in the succession of kings and he became king at 16. "And he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jecholiah of Jerusalem." Before you think, "Those poor people, to have such a young king"; he was one of their best kings. He reigned 52 years, brought spiritual reform and expanded their borders, etc. Verse 3 tells you his secret: "And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done." He is one of the great kings of Judah. There weren't many but he is one of them. In fact, Isaiah chapter 6 begins: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple." When king Uzziah died after a 52 year reigned, it so shook the people of Israel that they were wondering, "Now what are we going to do? We had a great leader and now he is gone." God had to remind them and even the prophet Isaiah, "I'm still on the throne; I haven't left; I'm still in control and even though your king has left you, I the Lord God am sitting on that throne and I haven't vacated it and I'm fully in charge." So he did what was right except verse 4 tells us some of his failures and flaws. "Except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Then the Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. And Jotham the king's son was over the royal house, judging the people of the land." So he was good but he wasn't perfect and he had some failures. These were his failures: number one, as he got older he decided he wanted to be a priest so he dressed up as a priest one day and went into the very temple itself and started offering incense and that's why God struck him with leprosy. The second thing he did was show the vessels of the house of the Lord to foreign dignitaries who would eventually come in and seize control of the land. So he kind of gave away the spoils and God's judgment fell upon him.
In chapter 18 Hezekiah is the king. Verse 3: "And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him." This is the danger of relics. Back in chapter 21 of the book of Numbers Moses had a bronze serpent that he held up in the desert and if they looked to it they were healed. Evidently, they kept it and preserved it and after a while they superstitiously attached significance to it rather than to the Lord. They were using it and started burning incense to it. They venerated it and they made it the big deal. People do such things to the Shroud of Turin. Or I remember as a kid seeing a little card and on it there was a sliver of wood that my dad showed me. He was insistent that it was a piece of the original cross of Christ. The story told is that they found this piece of wood outside of Jerusalem and it was kept in a monastery and the hierarchy of the church sold it off until it ran out. Then they came up with a new miracle, the perpetuation of the cross wherein miraculously more and more wood appeared and they sold thousands and thousands of crosses. It was a miraculous perpetuation of the cross and people would pray to these things. The children of Israel were now superstitiously following a brass serpent.
Let's go back to chapter 17, verse 20 for just a second. This is the fall of the north; here is the collapse. "And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight." This is 722 B.C. "For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day. Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities." It's 722 B.C. and the Syrians come in and take the northern kingdom captive. Here was their style. They took people and they let the poorest of the land remain. They brought in other people from nations they had conquered and had them intermarry and repopulate the land with foreign people who brought in foreign Gods. So here you have the northern country of Israel, already in idolatry becoming polluted with even more gods and goddesses. This group will become the Samaritans and this is precisely why in the New Testament the woman at the well of Samaria says to Jesus, "Why are You talking to me a Samaritan woman for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." By the New Testament time there was a rival temple in Samaria that rivaled the worship down south in Jerusalem and a huge split and that split happened because of this occurrence in 722 B.C.
Chapters 18 through 25 are the surviving kingdom of Judah. They last another 150 years. The Assyrian King, Sennacherib that conquered the northern kingdom goes down to conquer Jerusalem but he is unable to do it. They approach twice. In 713 B.C. they are to conquer Jerusalem after having conquered Judah. Hezekiah the king spreads out a letter before the Lord. Isaiah the prophet comes in (this is found in Isaiah chapters 26 and 37) and God answers his prayer and Jerusalem is spared. He comes again in 701 B.C. to conquer the land and this time look what happens in chapter 18, verse 13: "And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them." Now he is going to try and take Jerusalem.
Hezekiah spreads out this letter that Sennacherib sends him saying, "We're going to destroy you before the Lord." Isaiah says, "Don't sweat it, God is bigger than that." Now look at chapter 19, verse 35: "And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead." Think of this as I say this next statement. Remember in the Garden of Gethsemane when they arrest Jesus and Peter is out there trying to defend Jesus with the sword cutting ears off? Jesus says, "Put your sword away Peter. Don't you know that I could call right now on my father and get 12 legions of angels?" If one angel can destroy 185,000 Assyrians, imagine what 12 legions (hundreds) of angels could do which are all at the disposal of Christ's command and His power.
They are destroyed but a whole new power emerges. In chapter 25 verses 1 and 2, Assyria takes the northern kingdom captive and they collapse. One hundred fifty years pass and Judah is spared and they are the surviving kingdom and kings are listed in the rest of these chapters. But in 604 B.C. a guy named Nebuchadnezzar makes one of three successive attacks against Jerusalem. In the very first attack he takes captive a whole bunch of choice young men and one of them is named Daniel. Eventually, on the third attack in 586 B.C. Judah will fall to the Babylonians.
Chapter 25, verse 1: "Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah." Let me briefly sum up the whole chapter. After Josiah who was a good king dies, his son Jehoahaz is on the throne. He's only there for three months, barely enough time to warm the throne and he is deposed by the Egyptians. They put his brother Eliakim on the throne and change his name to Jehoiakim and he is there for 11 years. Jeremiah the prophet warns Jehoiakim, "Don't mess with the Babylonians and do whatever Nebuchadnezzar says." He rebels against Nebuchadnezzar and he is deposed by the Babylonians and Jehoiakim is replaced by a guy named Jehoiachin and he is there for three months and ten days. He is deposed and taken captive to Babylon. Zedekiah is placed on the throne and he starts a coup and eventually the Babylonians come in and kill his sons and put his eyes out and he is taken captive to Babylon and the chapter ends.
That's the end of the book. What is the difference between these kingdoms? Answer in short: The kings who rule them. The kingdom was only as good as the king. If you had a good king God would honor the reforms and the sincerity and the repentance and bring them prosperity. When a bad king would take them further away from the Lord the judgment came swifter. A kingdom is only as good as a king. Who is your king? Who is ruling in your life? Are you calling the shots? Are you at the wheel? Are you steering your life or have you given it over to the Lord letting Him control your life? A kingdom and a person is only as good as the king ruling his life.
I was on an airplane in Phoenix and they were boarding us and I heard this lady a couple of rows behind me say, "You mean this isn't the plane to Hawaii?" It's very untypical for someone to get mixed up these days, post 9/11 with the ticket but evidently she was on the wrong plane. As they announced that the temperature in Albuquerque and not Hawaii was 31 degrees, she said, "You mean this isn't the plane to Hawaii?" She had to get on the right plane. Imagine the shock if she was thinking she was going to land in Hawaii to land in 31 degrees weather instead.
Do you ever ask yourself as you live your life which direction you are going and is it the proper direction? It's a question everybody ought to ask because like these two kingdoms, sometimes they went away from the Lord and sometimes they went back to the Lord, briefly. God was always trying to reach in and lend a hand. He's doing that today. If you haven't given your life to Christ, it doesn't matter how many times you've been to church and it doesn't matter what you know or don't know. What matters is, "Who is your king?" Let's pray.
Heavenly Father we thank You for this study though we only highlighted what is fascinating reading with so many great and important spiritual lessons. We're so thankful that You have promised us a Savior, a Messiah, somebody who would come into the world and save us as the angel said to Joseph, "Save us from our sins." Thank You Lord that not only is He Savior but He is pleased to take up residence in our lives and reign as king. We pray Lord that he would not just do that in the short term but throughout our lives. That more and more we would be living under Your authority, in Your kingdom. And as we place You as our king, at the same time we can't wait for Your kingdom to fully come as we were taught to pray, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord it's just great to step into the pages of Scripture and get a little slice of Your plan and then apply it to our lives and see how we intersect with Your plan. I pray Lord that we would live lives in submission to You as our King. In Jesus' Name. Amen.