Week 16: 2 Kings 1-25

“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.

Who’s Who?

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
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Week 15: 1 Kings 1-22

As Solomon grew older, his wives beguiled him with their alien gods and he became unfaithful—he didn’t stay true to his God as his father David had done.  1 Kings 11:4 (The Message)

“I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever”  1 Kings 11:39 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

I kings continues the story where 2 Samuel left off. We saw the Nation of Israel established under King Saul, at its height under King David, and here we see David’s son Solomon take the throne. Each of these three kings will reign approximately forty years, so for about 120 years we see Israel as one united nation under one king. In the first half of 1 Kings we are going to see the nation prosper under King Solomon who will be remembered for his wisdom (and his women) and for finally building the Temple, a spectacular dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant and all the ritual and formality that will go with it.

Chapters 11 and 12 are the turning point where we see Solomon’s greatest folly result in Israel being split and becoming two Divided Kingdoms. Solomon’s son Rehoboam is next in line to inherit the throne but a group of rebels in the north choose to split apart and form their own nation. The northern ten tribes will retain the name of Israel under their new king Jeroboam (Jerry) and the southern kingdom will be named after the largest tribe where Jerusalem is located, Judah, and will be led by Solomon’s son Rehoboam (Rey). The kings in Israel will mostly become king by killing the king before him, while the kings in Judah will be passed from father to son and will carry the lineage of David for several hundred years. (hint – the genealogy will appear in Mathew 1 showing the connection from David to Jesus and showing that Jesus was technically in the line of the kings)

We’ll also be introduced to several prophets. While the second half of the Old Testament is filled with stories of different prophets, Elijah’s story is told here. The prophets play a very important role in the Old Testament, speaking God’s will to the people of Israel. They will constantly be calling God’s people to restore their broken relationship with God, reminding them of both God’s love and His demand for faithfulness. God had brought His people out of Egypt in order to be a holy nation, and within just a few generations of the height of the glory of Israel, we will see it begin to spiral out of control, falling further and further away from the Lord. (There is a wonderful oratorio by Mendelssohn called Elijah)

When and Where Are We?

1 Kings covers a little over a hundred years, from about 900-800 BC. The great territory of Israel that David had built up will continue to grow and then split into two distinct nations: Israel in the north will choose Samaria as its capital. Judah in the south with keep Jerusalem as its capital. While we don’t have exact dates, there is a system of stating how many years one king had been on the throne when another king rises to power in the other nation. Pay attention to which kingdom is which as the narrative tends to bounce from north to south but try not to get caught up in the chronology and exact timing of events. There are going to be two parallel stories unfolding during the time of the divided kingdom in 1-2 Kings.

Who’s Who?

  • Northern Kings/Israel: Jeroboam, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Tibni, Omni, Ahab, Ahaziah
  • Southern Kings/Judah: Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Johoshaphat
  • Prophets: Nathan, Ahijah, Shemaiah, an unnamed prophet, Jehu, Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah
  • Foreign Kings: Hiram (Tyre), Hadad (Edom), Rezon (Aram), Shishak (Egypt), Ben-Hadad (Aram)

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: 1 Kings 1-4
  • Tuesday: 1 Kings 5-8
  • Wednesday: 1 Kings 9-12
  • Thursday: 1 Kings 13-16
  • Friday: 1 Kings 17-20
  • Saturday: 1 Kings 21-22
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Week 14: 2 Samuel 1-24

“So here is what you are to tell my servant David: The God-of-the-Angel-Armies has this word for you: I took you from the pasture, tagging along after sheep, and made you prince over My people Israel. I was with you everywhere you went and mowed your enemies down before you. Now I’m making you famous, to be ranked with the great names on earth. And I’m going to set aside a place for My people Israel and plant them there so they’ll have their own home and not be knocked around any more. Nor will evil men afflict you as they always have, even during the days I set judges over My people Israel. Finally, I’m going to give you peace from all your enemies.” 2 Samuel 7:8-11 (The Message)

What’s Going On?

David has become a powerful military leader. After the death of King Saul and his son Jonathon, David will rise to the position of King, first over the southern territory of Judah, and then over all of Israel. Under his leadership, Israel is finally able to defeat the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Arameans. Jerusalem, soon called the City of David, is captured and established as the royal city and capital of Israel. The Ark is moved from Kiriath-Jearim where it has been kept during the reign of Saul to Jerusalem. A royal palace is built for David and the ark is housed inside a special tent that David had constructed. This is truly the golden era in the history of Israel and David is at times depicted as the perfect human king pointing toward a perfect Heavenly King. While the first half of the book concentrates on all the good times, the second half of the book shows us some of the darker times. We see David having an affair and getting a woman pregnant while her husband is out fighting in David’s army. And to top it all off David has the husband killed in the line of duty so he can marry the woman for himself. While the baby they conceived does die, they later will have another son, Solomon, who will follow David as the next king of Israel. David has constant problems with his other sons, one of which will lead a rebellion against his father. 2 Samuel comes to an end when David takes a census of Israel, something that seems harmless enough, but is actually a sign of pride that angers the Lord. In response to the sin, a plague falls on Israel. David purchases the spot where the plague comes to an end and it is on this land that the Temple of the Lord will soon be built.

When and Where Are We?

The time and place of the story of David are literally in the center and the heart of the Old Testament. Abraham lived about 2000 BC and when Jesus becomes a part of our story, the entire timeline changes over from BC to AD. These events of 1-2 Samuel occur right in the center of those two events at about 1000 BC. It is also during this time in Israel’s history that all of Israel is united as one nation. Never before, and not afterwards, will Israel claim so much land, including all of the territories of the twelve tribes and extending beyond that to include many lands that David conquers in battle.

Who’s Who?

  • Ish-Bosheth – Saul’s son who is appointed king when his father dies, reigns in Israel two years
  • Joab – the commander of David’s army
  • Abner – the commander of Saul’s army
  • Bathsheba – the wife of Uriah, who David has killed so he can marry her; mother of Solomon
  • Solomon – one of David’s sons. Solomon will later replace David as King over all Israel
  • Mephibosheth – Jonathon’s son who is crippled; honored by David
  • Absalom – David’s son who kills his brother Amnon when he rapes Tamar; leads a rebellion

“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me; your throne will be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7:16

Weekly Reading Schedule:

  • Monday: 2 Samuel 1-4
  • Tuesday: 2 Samuel 5-8
  • Wednesday: 2 Samuel 9-12
  • Thursday: 2 Samuel 13-16
  • Friday: 2 Samuel 17-20
  • Saturday: 2 Samuel 21-24
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Week 13: 1 Samuel 1-31

“We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20

What’s Going On?

As the period of the Judges comes to an end, the people of Israel decide they want to be like the nations around them and have a king to give them some national security and leadership. They seem to have forgotten that God is the only leader they really need. This is the beginning of the era I call United Israel, when they move from a Theocracy (God-led nation) to a Monarchy (man-led nation). Samuel, a prophet who hears from the Lord from a very young age, will serve both as the final Judge and the High Priest of Israel.

It is Samuel who will anoint the first two kings of the United Kingdom of Israel – first Saul and later, David. While it’s easy to see the importance of these two men as they finally bring all Israel together into one Kingdom, don’t overlook the importance of Samuel as God’s instrument to bring about many changes in the way Israel has functioned for the last four hundred years. Once the Kingdom is established, it is Samuel who will truly be the leader in many ways. Samuel will be the one to call Israel to repentance and turn their hearts back to God.

Saul is chosen by lot and all Israel accepts him to rule over them. Saul’s son Jonathan will lead Israel in an attack against the Philistines, but instead of waiting for the priest Samuel to offer a sacrifice before the battle, Saul will offer it himself and in so doing he will lose God’s favor. David, a young shepherd boy, is then chosen to be the future king over Israel. Even though David is chosen to be Saul’s successor, it will be many years before he actually becomes king.

Saul, who is being tormented by evil spirits, has young David come and play the harp to soothe him. When David bravely stands up against Goliath, he catches the attention of Israel and Saul’s jealousy begins to take root. David soon advances in Saul’s army and becomes close friends with Jonathan, Saul’s son. When Saul tries to kill him, Jonathan helps David escape and he flees Israel. He spends the next few years running from Saul and twice has the opportunity to kill him but spares his life because he respects that Saul is the God-appointed ruler of Israel. The book of 1 Samuel ends when Jonathan is killed in battle and Saul takes his own life before allowing the Philistines to kill him. While we know that God has already appointed David to be the next king and Samuel has already anointed him, the book comes to an end here with no king ruling over Israel.  

When and Where Are We?

It is about 1000 BC and the twelve tribes are combined to form the Nation of Israel.

Who’s Who?

  • Hannah – Samuel’s mother
  • Eli – the High Priest in Israel at the beginning of the book.
  • Samuel – raised by Eli and follows him to become the next High Priest; anoints Saul, and later David, to be king over Israel
  • Saul – first king over the united nation of Israel
  • Jonathan – Saul’s son
  • David – shepherd boy who plays the harp for Saul, kills Goliath, serves in the army of Israel, and will eventually become the second king of Israel after Saul dies.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” Psalm 46:10

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: 1 Samuel 1-5
  • Tuesday: 1 Samuel 6-10
  • Wednesday: 1 Samuel 11-15
  • Thursday: 1 Samuel 16-20
  • Friday: 1 Samuel 21-25
  • Saturday: 1 Samuel 26-31

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Week 12: Judges 1-21, Ruth 1-4

“When God was setting up judges for them, He would be right there with the judge: He would save them from their enemies’ oppression as long as the judge was alive, for God was moved to compassion when He heard their groaning because of those who afflicted and beat them. But when the judge died, the people went right back to their old ways—but even worse than their parents!—running after other gods, serving and worshiping them. Stubborn as mules, they didn’t drop a single evil practice.”    Judges 2:18-19 (The Message)

What’s Going On?

Now that the Israelites have conquered the territory that God had reserved for them, the twelve tribes finally settle in the land. In Deuteronomy, God had let them know that there would be blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. As long as the people followed God, lived according to the Law, and kept their focus on the Lord, they were prosperous. When they allowed the other nations around them to have an influence on them, they lost the Lord’s favor. The Lord had told them to rid the land of its inhabitants, knowing they would be a bad influence, but they didn’t and the seed of corruption takes root. As the Israelites began to turn their backs on the Lord, they soon found themselves being invaded by neighboring kingdoms. The Lord would then raise up a leader, or Judge, to rule for a while until Israel was no longer in danger. For the next 350 years Israel will swing like a pendulum between total obedience and trust in the Lord, to rebellion and disobedience leading to oppression by foreign rulers. The cycle would go something like this: The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord, they cried out for help, God raised up someone to help them, they had peace in the land, and then they would get complacent and begin doing evil again. This cycle would be repeated over and over during the time of the twelve Judges.

A Moabite woman, Ruth, lived during the time of the Judges and chose to stay with her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, when her husband dies. She then finds true love with a man named Boaz who is a relative of Naomi’s and is therefore eligible to be her kinsman-redeemer. They will become the great-grandparents of David and will carry the lineage that leads to Jesus, the ultimate redeemer, about a thousand years later.

When and Where Are We?

1375-1050 BC.  The period known as the Judges lasted for about 350 years, from the time of Joshua’s death until the time Israel would finally be led by a king in the period of the United Kingdom. The stories all take place within Israel as it is still functioning under the twelve tribal lands.

Who’s Who?

The Judges were Othniel (Caleb’s brother), Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon, and Samson.

  • Baals – false gods worshipped by the inhabitants of the land (Dagon, Ashtoreth, Chemosh)
  • Cushan-Rishathaim – king of Aram; Eglon – king of Moab; Jabin – king of Canaan
  • Sisera – the Canaanite army commander, Jael – the woman who kills him
  • Barak – an army commander who joined with Deborah to fight the Canaanites
  • Zebah and Zalmunna – the kings of Midian
  • Abimelech – son of Gideon, puts himself in position as king but is killed
  • Micah – built an idol/image and used a wayward Levite to act as his priest who then went with the tribe of Dan to establish a new home after they couldn’t rid their allotted land of the Amorites
  • Naomi – an Israelite living in Moab with her two daughters-in-law: Orpah and Ruth
  • Ruth – a Moabite widow who marries Boaz, her kinsman-redeemer

“In those days, Israel had no king” Joshua 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; and 21:25

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Judges 1-5
  • Tuesday: Judges 6-8
  • Wednesday: Judges 9-12
  • Thursday: Judges 13-16
  • Friday: Judges 17-21
  • Saturday: Ruth 1-4
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Week 11: Joshua 1-24

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6

What’s Going On?

As we turn the page from Deuteronomy to Joshua, we also begin a new section of the Bible I call ‘The History.’ The first five books, ‘The Beginning,’ told us about God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants to have a large family, to own the land that would come to be known as Israel, and that one day all the world would be blessed through this family. We saw the family grow into a very large group of people while enslaved in Egypt and then watched as Moses was responsible for bringing the people back to the land that had been promised to Abraham in Genesis 13:14-18. The Law was given to Moses that all of Israel would be expected to follow and a system was set up for sacrifice to make atonement for sin. The people who came out of Egypt did not fully trust God and therefore would die before their children would be allowed to enter the land.

Now it is finally time for the conquest of the land that would soon be known as Israel, named after Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. This section begins with the Lord appointing Joshua as leader of His people. They are camped on the east side of the Jordan River when Joshua sends two spies to look over the land, this time for a plan of attack. They are protected by Rahab who acts in faith and will be spared when the city of Jericho is taken. Joshua then leads the people to the Jordan River where the waters are held back as the people pass through on dry land (sound familiar?) and a memorial is left behind. After circumcising all the men and celebrating the Passover, the manna was no longer needed as they finally were able to eat the produce of the land.

Jericho was the first land conquered by the Israelites led by Joshua. Next a small band was sent to conquer Ai, but because Achan had disobeyed the Lord’s command not to take any of the sacred things from those they were conquering, Israel was unsuccessful and the small army was defeated. After the destruction of Achan, the land of Ai is then conquered and the people renew their Covenant with the Lord as Joshua carves the Law of Moses on stones and reads all the words before the people. Gibeon had heard about the Israelites coming to take over their land and tricked the Israelites into a treaty which allows them to serve as slaves and not be killed. Five kings in central Canaan join forces against Israel and the sun stands still in the sky until the five kings are killed and the lands are captured. Israel then easily conquers the lands in the southern part of Canaan and then heads up to the northern lands where they again defeat all who stood against them.

Once most of the territories of Canaan had been conquered, the land is divided up among the twelve tribes of Israel and cities of refuge are established and the towns for Levites are chosen. There were still some Canaanites living among them, but the era of warfare was over. Joshua has succeeded in doing all that the Lord had asked of him and as he nears the end of his days, he gathers the people of Israel for his farewell address and a renewal of the covenant before sending them all to the land of their inheritance. The bones of Joseph had been brought up from Egypt and were buried in the plot of land he himself had purchased. Finally, Eleazar, son of Aaron, dies and is buried as well.

When and Where Are We?

Most scholars date this period at about 1400 BC. After crossing the Jordan River from the east, the people camp at Gilgal before going in to conquer Canaan, beginning with Jericho and Ai and reaching to the south and to the north to cover all the land of Canaan. Twelve regions are allotted and named for the families of the twelve sons of Jacob.

Who’s Who?

  • Joshua: new leader of the people of Israel. He had been Moses’ aide and one of the original spies.
  • Eleazar: son of Moses and current High Priest.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Joshua 1-4
  • Tuesday: Joshua 5-8
  • Wednesday: Joshua 9-12
  • Thursday: Joshua 13-17
  • Friday: Joshua 18-21
  • Saturday: Joshua 22-24
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Week 10: Deuteronomy 19-34, Psalm 90

“You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as His people, that He may be your God as He promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.”      Deuteronomy 29:12-13 (NIV)

What’s Going On?

This week we continue Moses’ farewell address as the people of Israel are preparing to finally enter the Promised Land. There are yet still many instructions for how to live their daily lives once they have conquered the Canaanites and settle into their new homes and tribal communities. There are moral instructions, legal instructions, family and marital instructions, instructions about living in a community, instructions about going to war, and most importantly, instructions to keep the Lord’s commands and decrees and teach them to the next generation so that it will go well with them for many years to come. Chapter 28 summarizes how important it is to keep the commands of the Lord saying there will be blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. There is a little bit of foreshadowing here as we catch a glimpse into the future of the Nation of Israel, who will come to see both blessings and curses along the way. Since the people who are listening to Moses as he summarizes all that has happened and tells them what to expect as they move on without him weren’t all a part of the grand exodus from Egypt and the receiving of the Law forty years earlier at Mt Sinai, he realizes the need for this generation to stand in agreement with the Law and the conditions for being God’s holy people and calls for a national renewal of the covenant between Israel and her God. The book closes with Moses handing leadership off to his faithful aide, Joshua, a reading of the entire Law, and the call to read it publically every seven years. Moses then teaches them a song to help them remember all that they have been through and all of the blessings in store if they will only remain faithful to the Lord. Moses then blesses all of the tribes and sends them on their way. Moses must have watched them go with great pride and great sadness that he won’t be a part of the next leg of their journey. God then shows Moses all the land that Israel is about to inherit. We aren’t told exactly how it happens, but apparently after he dies, the Lord Himself buries Moses, the great servant of the Lord, there at Mount Nebo.

When and Where Are We?

It is about 1400 BC and the people are camped in Moab on the east side of the Jordan River.

Who’s Who?

  • Moses – Prophet, Deliverer, Law-Giver
  • Joshua – Moses’ aide and the new Commander in Chief
  • Eleazar – Aaron’s son and current High Priest

“Now choose life, so that you and your children my live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life.” Deuteronomy 30:19b-20b

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Deuteronomy 19-22
  • Tuesday: Deuteronomy 23-25
  • Wednesday: Deuteronomy 26-27
  • Thursday: Deuteronomy 28-30
  • Friday: Deuteronomy 31-34
  • Saturday: Psalm 90
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