In the book of Second Kings, we read of evil rulers, rampant idolatry, and a complacent populace – certainly pulling downward. Despite the pressure to conform, to turn from the Lord and to serve only self, a minority of chosen people moved the opposite direction, toward God. The Bethel prophets and others, as well as two righteous kings, spoke God’s word and stood for him. As your read Second Kings, watch these courageous individuals. Catch the strength and force of Elijah and Elisha and then commitment of Hezekiah and Josiah, and determine to be one who swims against the current.
Second Kings continues the history of Israel, halfway between the death of David and the death of the nation. Israel had been divided, and the two kingdoms had begun to slide into idolatry and corruption toward collapse and captivity. Second Kings relates the sordid stories of then 12 kings of the northern kingdom (called Israel) and the 16 kings of the southern kingdom (called Judah). For 130 years, Israel endures the succession of evil rulers until they were conquered by Shalmaneser of Assyria and led into captivity in 722 B. C. Of all the kings in both the north and south, only two – Hezekiah and Josiah – were called good. Because of their obedience to God and the spiritual revivals during their reigns, Judah stood for an additional 136 years until falling to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians in 586 B. C.
Although Israel had the witness and power of Elijah, the nation turned from God and was exiled to Assyria. Assyria filled the northern kingdom with people from other lands. There has been no return from this captivity – it was permanent. Such is the end of all who shut God out of their lives.
The northern kingdom was destroyed, and prophets were predicting the same fate for Judah. What more could cause the nation to repent? Hezekiah and Josiah were able to stem the tide of evil. They both repaired the temple and gathered the people for the Passover. Josiah eradicated idolatry from the land, but as soon as these goods kings were gone, the people returned again to living their own way instead of God’s way. Each individual must believe and live for God in his or her family, church, and nation.
Unknown. Possibly Jeremiah or a group of prophets.
To demonstrate the fate that awaits all who refuse to make God their true leader.
The once-united nation of Israel has been divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, for over a century.
To download a PDF outline of the book of Second Kings click here.
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