2 Kings (letter 12, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters)

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Russian novelist, historian, and short story writer) said the line between good and evil does not run between us and them; it runs through each one of us.Don’t make it your main goal to change bad times to good (though of course we may pray that things will improve) but seek to know God better and to represent Him well in all circumstances, no matter how we feel.Even in the church we talk more about wounds and the promise of therapy.

2 Kings – David Jeremiah (Understanding the 66 Books of the Bible)

Key thought: Though the story of the decline and fall of Israel’s monarchy appears bleak at times, God never lost control of Israel’s destiny and His promises were undeterred..

Key Verse: “So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’” 2 Kings 6:16

Key Action: We, like Elisha, should live with confidence in chaotic times, for we are protected by the invisible armies of the Lord of Hosts (see 2 Kings 6:17).

2 KINGS: A Wasted Life – From Ray Stedman<-(click here for entire Bible summary)

1st and 2nd Kings are aptly named Kings, as they trace the lives of various rulers of God’s kingdom, beginning with Saul and David, down through the division of the kingdom under Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. Then these two books trace out for us the various dynasties in Israel, the northern kingdom, and the single dynasty of the house of David in the southern kingdom of Judah. In each case, the spotlight is always on the king; it is what the king does in relationship to God that determines how the nation goes. The character of the kingdom is largely determined by the character of the king. When the king walked with God in obedience and humility, and worshipped and obeyed God in the temple in Jerusalem (or later in Samaria in the northern kingdom), God’s blessing in prosperity and victory rested upon the kingdom. There was no such blessing for the northern kingdom because they had no godly kings. But in the southern kingdom, in the house of David, there was victory and prosperity when godly kings appeared from time to

When the kings were in obedience, they were always types of Christ – such as David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Joash, and Jehoshaphat. But when they were in disobedience, they were types, or pictures of the antichrist, the man of sin who is yet to appear upon the earth. As we read these books, we will find ourselves right in the midst of the problems and blessings and possibilities that are reflected in these books of the kings.

Everyone knows that there are two evident divisions of human life:
1. First of all, there is the body of which we are so aware. We take it around with us. We spend our time taking care of it. Unfortunately most of life seems to be spent in taking care of the body.
2. There is also the soul, the invisible part that contains the personality, and is so obviously gone when we look at the emptiness of a corpse and the terrible tragedy of death.

The ten tribes of the north are representative of the body, while Judah and Benjamin, the two tribes of the south, represent the soul. If we permit the Spirit of God to dwell within our human spirit he governs our soul, thereby adjusting and controlling the body and the outward life. Remember what the Lord Jesus said to the woman at the well about the nature of God? “God is Spirit,” he said, “and those who worship him must worship [where?] in spirit and truth” {John 4:24 RSV}. He can find lots of worshipers who are worshipping him in soul – mere soulish, emotional worship. But he is not interested in that. He is looking for that worship which is centered in the deepest part of human nature, in the spirit, and this is figured by the temple.

In your kingdom your will is king and nothing can take place in your kingdom except as it passes by the authority of your will. Therefore, what your will does, determines what your life will be like. If you willingly, obediently yield yourself to the influences brought into your life by the Holy Spirit dwelling in your human spirit, you are like the kingdom when David walked with God. But if, like many of the following kings, you walk in disobedience – if your will is defiant, and is set against the things of God; if you refuse his sovereignty and dominion in your life – then the same kind of evil invasions that fell upon this kingdom will come into your life. Thus the kingdom falls into ruin.

As we trace this ruin we notice that Solomon, the son of David, introduced the principle that began the deterioration of the kingdom. He fell in love with the daughter of Pharaoh. Soon he had a thousand wives and along with them came their idols. The kingdom began to deteriorate under Solomon because he allowed the world to entice and allure him, to draw away his heart’s interest from the temple where his worship should have been centered. You can draw the parallel picture in your own life.

Then Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, actually split the kingdom so that the northern ten tribes were removed from the southern two tribes and a separate kingdom was set up in the north. If the northern kingdom is representative, as I have suggested, of a man’s body, then when our spirit loses fellowship with the Holy Spirit within, it isn’t very long before the body begins to disintegrate. Fleshly indulgence sets in and bodily wrongdoing soon follows, as the first chapter of Romans tells us.

Then came Jeroboam, the son of Rehoboam. It was Jeroboam who introduced the great sin for which the northern kingdom was noted. Jeroboam set up two calves in Bethel and Dan to be the worship centers. This represents that form of godliness which denies the power of God. It is an outward conformity to Christian faith which lacks the inner response of the Spirit. It is quite possible to make a very good appearance of being a Christian – so much so, in fact, that you fool everybody but God. You can come to church, you can stand when everybody stands, sit down when everybody sits down, hold the hymn book at the right angle, bow your head at the proper prescribed angle and at the proper prescribed time, but inwardly there is no worship at all. This is exactly what is pictured here in the worship which Jeroboam the son of Nebat introduced into the northern kingdom.

From that moment on, these two kings, David and Jeroboam, become the representatives of the two spiritual principles that are traced throughout the kingdoms. They become the measuring sticks for the kings that followed. Time and time again in these books we read that a king either walked in the ways of David his father and served the Lord his God or they say he walked in the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat and caused Israel to go whoring after the gods that Jeroboam had set up.

All through this time of decline God made various efforts to stop the corruption and decay of the kingdom. These centered largely on the ministry of Elijah and Elisha.

God used the kings in government, to control and to administer justice. The life and the character of the kingdom was due to the reflected character of the king. When God wanted to speak to the nation, he sent a prophet. Hosea, Amos, Joel, Isaiah and Jeremiah were also prophets that ministered to the kingdoms, but the only ones that appear in First and Second Kings are Elijah and Elisha.

Elijah was a rugged personality. He went around wearing a leather girdle and dressed in haircloth. Time after time, he met the king face to face to deliver a message of judgment and his life was at stake many times. But he was faithful and God protected him. This was the character of Elijah. He was primarily the prophet of the Law. It was his ministry to bring the thunderings of the Law to the nation Israel, to try to wake it up to its shameful condition. Therefore, his was a ministry of love and of fire and of judgment.

When Elijah was caught up into heaven in a chariot of fire, his mantle fell upon Elisha. In contrast to Elijah, Elisha’s ministry was the ministry of grace and sweetness and glory throughout Israel. Now why was this?

Well, if you study this carefully you will see that these two men together prefigure the ministry of Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus came to Israel, it was in a period of decay and corruption, as it was when Elijah came to the nation.
· The Lord Jesus’ ministry to official Israel was in the power of Elijah. He began his ministry with the cleansing of the temple.
· But our Lord’s ministry to the individual was the ministry of Elisha – the ministry of grace, of winsome sweetness, of compassionate tenderness and helpfulness.

The book of Second Kings traces the decline of these kingdoms, and Israel goes first.What a picture this is of the evil results of sin in the human life particularly as it affects the outward bodily life. Have you ever noticed this? I am talking about the marks of coarseness and vulgarity that mark the body of man when it is expended in high living, a dissolute life, overindulgence in food and drink, and all the other things that leave a mark upon the body. The body is first to go just as Israel was the first to go here.

Judah was next. Judah was arrested from decay for awhile by the glorious life of Hezekiah who arose in the midst of darkness. He also destroyed the great brazen serpent that the people had been worshipping. This was the very serpent that God had used for their blessing when Moses lifted it up in the wilderness (Num 21:8-9). Many things that were once used in blessing become idols if we hang on to them because of the sentimental value.

Zedekiah was the last king that Israel ever had. Later, in the tumult and the tremendous confusion in Jerusalem during the Passover week when our Lord was crucified, Pilate offered their king to the nation, “Here is your King!” {John 19:14b RSV}. But the crowd meant it when they cried out, “We have no king but Caesar,” (John 19:15b RSV). Yet it was Caesar’s governor who taught Israel its lesson by having this inscription written above the cross “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (John 19:19b RSV). That poor people will never know another moment of genuine prosperity and blessing either spiritually or physically until they shall see “him whom they have pierced” {Zech 12:10b RSV}, and recognize the king that was sent to them in lowliness as Zechariah prophesied. Now do you see what this book is about? It is
a picture of a wasted life.

Here is a picture of an individual who is a Christian, whose foundation is laid by Jesus Christ, but who has built upon it with only wood, hay and stubble. In the secret place of his heart, in the will, he has refused to walk in obedience to the things revealed unto him through the Holy Spirit who dwells in the temple of his human spirit. As a result his life becomes more and more characterized by decay and corruption and defilement. It begins with the body and then becomes evident in the personality. Cruelty, hardness, and defiance set in, and, finally, the temple itself is burned. Paul tells us in First Corinthians that for each one there is the judgment of fire which will reveal our work; “the wood, hay, [and] stubble” {1 Cor 3:12 RSV} will be burned although the believer himself will be saved, “but only as through fire,” (1 Cor 3:15 RSV).

The whole lesson of Second Kings, of course, is that it need not be so. God is continually interrupting our lives with the evidence of his grace. God tries to arrest us in our stubborn deliberate ways. Yet we can go ahead. God will not stop us – just as he didn’t stop them. We can go on beating our way to the top of the heap, and, perhaps, win the acclaim and approval of the world around us. But one day we shall have to stand naked before the one who loves us who gave himself for us and to whom we have denied the right to be God in the temple of our spirit. We have robbed him of his inheritance in the saints. In that day, John says, we shall be ashamed before him at his coming {cf, 1 Jn 2:28}. May God grant that the lesson of these books may come home to our hearts.