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  • Biblical Studies Journal Volume 3, Number 2

    February 22, 1999

    Learn From The Kings

    The story in the Biblical books of I and II Kings can be read as the tragic history of Israel of the nation of Israel.  Indeed, the story of the moral demise and ultimate exile of God's people is a sad one.   However, the very thing that makes that story tragic, also is a source of great encouragement.
  • An Unusual History
  • A Jealous God
  • Heroic Measures
  • A Tragic End
  • God's Desire For Our Souls

     An Unusual History

    Kings, despite its title, is very different from any record of secular, political history.  The focus here is on the spiritual state of Israel and its leaders.  Kings begins with the end of the reign of David, who greatly expanded Israel's borders, making it a major power in the region.  He was also
    a man of great spiritual depth, as seen in the many psalms which bear his name.  In the opening chapters the throne passes to his son, Solomon, who becomes the wisest monarch on earth and brings great wealth and glory to Israel.  Yet immediately after his reign the kingdom is divided, and II Kings ends some 400 years later, with the grand Temple destroyed, and Israel as a nation, no longer exists.    Each ruler during this period is evaluated spiritually, and most are found wanting.  Yet throughout this time, God is engaged in intense effort to turn his people back to him.

     A Jealous God

    Israel was moving away from God, and He didn't want them to go.  His love for His people was intense, and He exercised great patience in allowing them to remain in the land of promise as long as He did.  He had warned Israel that the penalty for turning away from Him was exile.  Israel's actions would have justified such exile centuries before it actually occurred.  God didn't want
    to exile His people.  Thus, He sent His prophets, His messengers, to continually warn Israel and encourage them to repent.  God probably had more prophets working during these centuries than at any other time.  Kings refers to groups of prophets that were active in delivering God's message to His people.   The number of prophets that were sent out by God is far greater than the sum of those actually named in the Bible.  They were sent because of God's great love - because of his great desire to preserve His people.

     Heroic Measures

    No place in Kings is more evident of God's great effort to turn His people away from their sin than in the story of Ahab.  Ahab has the reputation of Israel's most wicked king.  It is no coincidence that his reign coincides with the ministry of the man with the reputation as God's greatest prophet, Elijah.  In chapters 18 through 22 of I Kings, event after  dramatic event (three years of drought, the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel,
    victories in battle that were obviously given by God) seems aimed at Ahab to convince him that there is only one God.  In chapter 21, verse 27 and following, Ahab actually repents and humbles himself before God.  After this, Israel was blessed with three years of peace.  God worked extra hard to bring Ahab and His people back to Him;  they were the object of His desire. Unfortunately, Ahab's repentance didn't last.  Israel also experienced periods of repentance, and, like Ahab, the nation's repentance was temporary, despite God's great work.

     A Tragic End

    Ultimately, Israel was conquered and her people led into exile.  God wanted to let the survivors of Israel's demise to know that the exile was not the result of God abandoning them, but the result of their abandonment of God.  He wanted them to know that His love continued despite their stubborn refusal to acknowledge Him.  The book of Kings reveals God's great concern for His
    people, even when they lived in enmity to Him.

     God's Desire For Our Souls

    We also have been enemies to God.  Yet, even for His enemies, God sent His Son to die.  Through the death of Christ, we have been reconciled to God (Romans 5:10).  He is not willing that any should remain lost in sin, but earnestly desires for all to be saved.    He continues to send this message to us.  He has preserved His Word for us in the Bible, and all His creation serves to
    declare the glory of God  His love is further demonstrated today in the work He has done in the lives of those who have put on Christ in baptism.  God continues to patiently call, because He has intense love mankind, which He created in His image.

     -- David Mayes

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