26 March 2016

Stone 12 - 2 Kings

We started looking at a long line of kings that followed David in 1 Kings, now we will look at several more in the lineup.

We ended 1 Kings by mentioning that some kings did right in the eyes of the Lord and others did not. A careful inspection reveals that those who did right were all from the southern division of Judah. The book of 2 Kings is no different. None of the kings of Israel did right in the sight of God.

Elisha Takes Over As Prophet
Elijah was nearing the end of his time (2Kings 2:1) and as he was leaving, Elisha requests a double portion of of Elijah's spirit (2Kings 2:9).  Here is a partial list of miracles performed by Elisha through the Lord.

1. Heals the water (2Kings 2:21)
2. Multiplies oil (2Kings 4:3-5)
3. Raised dead son (2Kings 4:32-35)
4. Cleansed stew (2Kings 4:38-41)
5. Multiplied bread (2Kings 4:42-44)
6. Heals Naaman (2Kings 5:14)

I find the healing of Naaman to be of interest because of some of the logic we see come out as well as some of the deception common to humans. So Naaman has a skin disease and he is informed that there is a prophet in the land of Israel who would cure him (2Kings 5:3). Naaman gets permission from the king to go and it is granted. The king even sends him with a gift to give to the prophet (2Kings 5:5).

So Naaman shows up at Elisha's place and he is told to go and wash up in the Jordan River a total of seven times (2Kings 6:10). Now here is the interesting part... Naaman is told what to do in order to become cured and he gets upset. He gets upset because it did not happen the way that he was expecting it to go down (2Kings 6:11). First, Naaman was expecting Elisha to come out and call on God and wave his hand in some sort of jedi mind trick and shazam! it is healed (2Kings 5:11). Secondly, He tries to argue that the Jordan River is not as nice as some other waters and asks why he could not just wash there instead...(2Kings 5:12)? It was almost as if Naaman was grossed out by the thought of washing in the dirtier water. At any rate, Naaman rejects the truth based on some faulty reasoning. Fortunately, he came with some servants who offered some wise counsel (2Kings 5:13). In the end, Naaman performs the task and is healed (2Kings 5:14).

Here is the deception... Elisha declines the gift from Naaman but Gehazi, Elisha's servant, was feeling a bit jaded that Naaman didn't have to pay up for such a service (2Kings 5:20). Gehazi crafts up a little story to throw at Naaman in order to swindle some loot (2Kings 5:22) and then lies to Elisha when he comes back (2Kings 5:25). As a result, Elisha basically curses Gehazi and his descendants with the same skin disease Naaman had. Consequences...

More Kings
Recall that 1Kings ended with Ahaziah taking over for a couple years and he died after injuries from falling out of a window.
Joram took over after that. Joram was the son of Ahab and reigned for 12 years (2Kings 3:1).
Jehu followed Joram and went on a killing spree that tore through the house of Ahab as the Lord had commanded (2Kings 9:6-7). Jehu did well on his mission to eradicate the the house of Ahab and was rewarded for that by having four generations of sons be granted the throne but he did not choose to follow the Lord (2Kings 10:28-30). He reigned 28 years until his son Jehoahaz took over.
Jehoahaz reigned 17 years and did evil in the sight of the Lord (2Kings 13:1-2).
Jehoash then stepped in for 16 years of evil (2Kings 13:10) when Jeroboam II stepped in and reigned for 41 years and continued to do evil (2Kings 14:23-24)
Zechariah followed as king for six months at which time Shallum killed him (2Kings 15:10).
Shallum, for all the work killing the king in order to become king was himself assassinated by Menahem only one month after seizing the crown (2Kings 15:13-14). I guess that didn't work out so well...
Menahem managed to hang in there for 10 years but did evil in the sight of the Lord (2Kings 15:17-18).
Pekahiah was Menahem's son and he took over when his father died and reigned for two years. One of his own officers, Pekah, assassinated him and took the throne (2Kings 15:25).
Pekah held the crown for a total of 20 years when Hoshea assassinated him and took the crown. (2Kings 15:30).
Hoshea was the final king of the northern tribes of Israel as after nine years the Assyrians conquered the land and deported the Israelites out (2Kings 17:6).

**That was sure a lot of assassinating going on - was the struggle for power worth it...? Not a single one of the kings from the northern tribes did right by the Lord. 2 Kings 17:7-20 explains well why the nation ultimately fell. They sinned against the Lord and despite all the prophets that came to try and help - they simply would not listen.

Jehoram followed Jehoshaphat and reigned for eight years. Now he had married Ahab's daughter and followed Ahab's ways of evil in the sight of the Lord (2Kings 8:17-18).
Ahaziah followed Jehoram and only reigned for one year when Jehu had killed him and then his mother Athaliah killed off some heirs and reigned for six years (2Kings 11:1)
Joash, as a baby however, was hidden away and did not get killed so that when Athaliah was ousted by the priest Jehoiada he was able to take kingship. So Joash was only 7 when he became king. Say What!? Well at least he was doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord and reigned for 40 years but it turns out that he started to turn at the end of his reign (2Kings 11:21-12:1).
Amaziah took over at that point and reigned for 29 years and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.
Azariah reigned afterwards for 52 years doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2Kings 15:2-3).
Jotham reigned 16 years and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2Kings 15:33-34).
Ahaz also reigned 16 years but did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2Kings 16:2-3).
Hezekiah did what was right and reigned for 29 years (2Kings 18:2-3).

**A note on Hezekiah, who we will visit again in the book of Isaiah since Isaiah is the prophet who is there at this time. From a military standpoint, what in the world is Hezekiah thinking...!? Some dudes from Babylon show up and Hezekiah gives them a complete tour of the whole place - like everything! - treasury, armory, palace - great way to give away valuable intel to be used against you... just sayin'.

Manasseh was 12 when he became king and reigned for 55 years.
**I have to wonder how that really works - so immature at that age to run a nation. I mean the people in our country five times that age have difficulties. Anyway, Manasseh was pretty bad with respect to the level of idolatry that he promoted - so bad that it sealed the fate of Judah to be like that of Israel if not worse (2Kings 21:10-13, 24:2-3).

Amon held the crown for two years doing evil in the eyes of the Lord (2Kings 21:19-20).

Josiah was only eight when he became king and remained king for 31 years.
**Again - you gotta wonder - not surprising that that nation is being driven to ruin when ruled by a bunch of children over the years. When my children are left to their own devices for even a short period of time, there is nothing but chaos to be expected. At least he was doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Perhaps the children of Israel have that much going for them.

During the reign of Josiah, as the temple was being repaired, the Book of the Law was found. The king realized the seriousness of the words within the book as the nation has not been good about following them (2Kings 22:8-11). Josiah really went on a quest to remove the evil and set things right in the nation of Judah.

Jehoahaz was the son of Josiah and only reigned for three months and did evil in the eyes of the Lord during that time.
Jehoiakim continued to do evil during his 11-year reign.
Jehoiachin continued to do evil for the three months that he reigned.
Zedekiah, the last king of the tribe of Judah, reigned a total of 11 years doing evil in the sight of the Lord before they were conquered by Babylon and deported.

So Where Did That Get Us?
Remember that Israel wanted a king just like the other nations? Well they got what they wanted - or did they? In the end we find that all these kings did not really do so well. The nation of Israel ended up becoming divided with the northern nation of Israel being conquered by the Assyrians (2Kings 17:6) and the southern tribe of Judah being conquered by the Babylonians some 136 years later. Jerusalem was destroyed (2Kings 25:8-9) and all of the Israelites were exiled from the land that the Lord had given to them. The majority of the kings did not do what was right but rather what was evil in the sight of the Lord and as a result, it became Israel's downfall.

Next we will look at 1 Chronicles which will essentially be a review of what we have already went through up to the end of king David and the beginning of king Solomon's reign.

Here is a video from the Bible Project about both 1 & 2 Kings.

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