Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
There are always consequences for sin, but God offers blessings for obedience. The continuing story of the Kings showcases a powerful, blessed empire that should have been a light to the nations. However, in their disobedience, they suffered a curse due to their own apostasy. The wise believer would take note and learn lessons from Israel, in order that they should not also walk away from the Lord in disobedience. For those who are captivated by the story of Israel, 2 Kings is no doubt the best book in the Bible.
Main Themes: The Blessings of Obedience & The Curses of Apostasy
“Then it came about as they were going along and talking, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)
“And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:3)
Originally, 1 and 2 Kings were one book, chronicling the history of Israel from Solomon to the Babylonian captivity. The bulk of the narrative follows the northern kingdom of Israel down its path to destruction, but the southern kingdom of Judah does not escape unscathed. God is faithful—He sends a number of prophets to warn the people of coming judgment. Sadly, they do not repent.
(1:1—17:41). The Divided Kingdom; Israel’s downfall
At the outset of chapter 1, we encounter the death of Ahaziah. However, this sets up the continuing story of the prophet Elijah. Perhaps one of Israel’s most dynamic prophets, Elijah preached passionately for the nation to turn away from the worship of Baal and back to the Lord God. During the reign of King Jehoram, Elijah is taken up to heaven (2:11), leaving his disciple, Elisha, to carry on his prophetic ministry (2:12ff). Elisha’s ministry would be marked by several remarkable events, including the healing of the Shunammite woman’s son (ch. 4) and the healing of Naaman the leper (5:1-27).
Up to this point in the Kings narrative, the northern kingdom of Israel is plagued with bad kings, but chapters 9 and 10 introduce us to Jehu the prophet, and his revolution in Israel, culminating with the destruction of the Baal worshipers in 10:18-36. For a brief point, “Jehu eradicated Baal out of Israel” (10:28).
Starting in chapter 11, we are introduced to a line of godly kings in Judah—Joash (as long as Jehoiada is alive), Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah. However, both kingdoms still have their problems, including various wicked kings. To combat the waywardness of Israel and Judah, God sends a series of prophets: Amos and Hosea in Israel, and Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah in Judah.
However, Israel would not obey the Lord, and they would be attacked and exiled to Assyria by Shalmaneser V in 722 BC.
(18:1—25:30). The Surviving Kingdom of Judah
On the heels of the Assyrian invasion of Israel and subsequent captivity noted in chapter 17, the book shifts its focus to the southern kingdom of Judah under the leadership of the godly king Hezekiah. While he certainly had his problems, Hezekiah was a good king and motivated the people to worship the Lord. Having just sacked Israel, the Assyrians marched to Judah and boasted that they were next. However, Judah under Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, and He would deliver them by wiping out the entire Assyrian army in one night (19:35)!
Judah would struggle to remain faithful, as they operated under terrible kings such as Manassah (21:1-18) and Amon (21:19-26). The last glimmer of hope for Judah was through the reign of godly king Josiah, who brought about religious reforms that would spare the nation from judgment for a hundred years. In the end, however, they would deteriorate under atrocious kings, who would eventually plunge Judah into ruin, and into the Babylonian captivity. 2 Kings ends with Judah being deported to Babylon in 586 BC.
Why This Book is So Great:
As I mentioned in the previous post, 1 and 2 Kings are a crash course in Israelite history (970-586 BC). This is a treasure trove of information for Bible history buffs! While watching king after king lead Israel into apostasy, we also see the elements of faithfulness from kings such as Hezekiah and Josiah. In the end, while God would deliver Israel over to their enemies, we also read in the prophets many promises about One who would be coming to deliver them from their slavery to sin, ushering them into an everlasting rest.
As with all longer books, I recommend breaking the reading up into sections. Also, like with 1 Kings, it is helpful to mark “good kings” and “bad kings” in your Bible, so that you can see how the narrative unfolds. Further, try and align the various prophets to their chronological timeline. Doing exercises like these will help keep the story straight when you go to read and study.
- John J. Davis & John C. Whitcomb, Israel from Conquest to Exile: A Commentary on Joshua – 2 Kings. (B&H, 1994).
- Tony Merida, Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. (B&H, 2015).
- Dale Ralph David, 2 Kings: The Power and the Fury. (Christian Focus, 2005).
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries