Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for July 1, 2 Kings 1-4

Today's readings are 2 Kings 1-4. Tomorrow's  are 2 Kings 5-8.

In the Jewish Bible, 1 & 2 Kings are one volume. It was divided into two volumes when the Hebrew text was translated into Greek. Together, they are a history of Israel as a monarchy first, under David, then divided into two nations, Israel to the North and Judah to the South. 

Overall, it is a sobering record of the fall of both nations. God gave specific guidelines to the leaders of Israel (Dt 12), nearly all of which are violated by the kings of the divided kingdom as it existed after the death of Solomon. 

Israel falls first, then Judah. Through the lens of 1 & 2 Kings, we will see God's grace, in how He sends prophets to warn the kings of their downfall, His faithfulness in continually refining both kingdoms in spite of their disobedience, His holiness in exacting discipline for their rebellion and His sovereign authority over all nations as He continually uses pagan nations to do His sanctifying work in both kingdoms. 

Hopefully, as we read through 2 Kings, we can see some of ourselves in Israel and Judah and become more aware of God's sanctifying grace in our lives. 

In 2 Kings 1-2, Elijah, after chastising Ahaziah, king of Israel, for consulting Baal, is taken up and replaced by Elisha after Ahaziah dies. God is making sure Israel has a prophet to convey His word to them. Again, we see God's grace toward a fallen nation. 

Elisha performs signs and wonders, establishing him among the people as Elijah's replacement. One of the signs occurs when a group of young men who had mocked Elisha are eaten by bears. Apparently God is serious about defending His faithful prophets against detractors and those who would mock the work God is doing among His people. 

Joram becomes king of Israel. Moab rebels against Israel. Joram calls upon the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, for help (also related in 1 Kings 22). Elisha consults the Lord for the sake of Jehoshaphat, who is a descendant of David. The Moabites lose the battle with God's intervention. But their king, Mesha, sacrifices his son before Israel can fully take Moab. Human sacrifice is strictly prohibited (Dt 18:10). When the armies of Israel see the sacrifice, they withdraw out of fear. The text does not tell us, at this point, if that is a wise decision or not. 

in 2 Kings 4, God continues to provide for and protect Elisha, performing a number of miracles through him, constantly validating him as a true prophet and building his credibility in the eyes of the people of both kingdoms.

Throughout all 4 chapters, we see God's gracious provision for those who remain faithful (Judah). At the same time, we see Him provide for, but discipline, those who stumble (Israel). Meanwhile, the pagan nations surrounding both kingdoms are used by God as His refining tools.

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