“Then I will reject even the remnant of My own people who are left, and I will hand them over as plunder for their enemies. For they have done great evil in My sight and have angered Me ever since their ancestors came out of Egypt.” 2 Kings 21:14-15 NLT
What’s Going On?
The kingdoms of Israel and Judah are going to continue to function as two separate nations, each with their own king and each with their own history. Israel will mostly have bad kings that lead the people away from God, while Judah will have some good kings who try desperately to restore the glory that God intended for them. The way the story unfolds can be confusing at times, bouncing from north to south. I suggest that you pay more attention to where something is happening than trying to keep up with the names.
There will be a downward spiral for both nations as foreign kings begin to invade and take over their land. About 725 BC, the northern kingdom of Israel will be completely overtaken by the Assyrians and will cease to exist as a nation. Throughout the rest of the Bible, and for nearly two thousand years after that, Israel will be under the power of another nation. It isn’t until 1948 when Israel is finally reinstated as an independent nation.
The southern kingdom of Judah will continue to function independently for another hundred years or so because of several great kings who honored the Lord and His instruction. The Assyrians will fall to Babylon and eventually Judah will be conquered as well. In 586 BC, Judah will fall to the Babylonians and the end of the book of 2 Kings records how the people are being removed from their homeland and taken away in carts, scattered among the now very large and powerful nation of Babylon.
Elisha followed Elijah as a great prophet and continued to give messages and perform miracles for God’s people in order to show God’s power and draw them closer to God. There is a strong pattern visible as we watch the decline of both Israel and Judah. When the king loves the Lord and serves Him only, the nation prospers. But when a king turns away from the Lord, the nation suffers. Remember back when Israel first conquered the land and God told them to rid the land of its inhabitants lest they get comfortable with worshipping all of their false gods? Well now we see why God was so fiercely protective of His people and His land. He knew how easily swayed His people could be and not only the foreigners from within, but now the nations around them have introduced their gods and their detestable worship practice to God’s people and they were not strong enough to stand against them. Now the punishment for turning away from God reaches its full measure.
When and Where Are We?
This book is going to cover about three hundred years, from 875-561 BC. At the beginning of the book we still have two divided kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. In chapter 17 the northern kingdom will fall to Assyria which lies to the north and east of Israel. The Assyrians will overtake much of the land that we now know as Iraq, Syria, parts of Turkey, and Lebanon. Later, the Babylonians will conquer Assyria and the land of Judah plus new territories to the south reaching into northern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait. There will be a series of world powers that will conquer larger and larger territories that I like to visualize as the big fish eats the little fish. So Assyria “eats” Israel, then Babylon “eats” both Assyria and Judah. This pattern will continue with a few more big fish on the horizon.
Kings in Israel: Joram, Jehu, Johoahaz, Jehoash, Joroboam II, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea
Kings in Judah: Jehoram, Ahaziah, Queen Athaliah, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, Jehoahaz, Joehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah
Weekly Reading Assignment:
- Monday: 2 Kings 1-4
- Tuesday; 2 Kings 5-8
- Wednesday: 2 Kings 9-12
- Thursday: 2 Kings 13-16
- Friday: 2 Kings 17-20
- Saturday: 2 Kings 21-25