2 Kings Preview
As a reminder, 1 & 2 Kings (much like its historical predecessor 1 & 2 Samuel) were originally one long book, later divided into two separate parts. While the author of this book is unknown, some scholars have guessed Ezra, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah as the potential author. Because it was compiled over a period of several hundred years from 973 B.C. to 561 B.C., it is likely that source material came from several people and it was eventually compiled into one long book by one (or potentially multiple) author(s).
The story arc of 2 Kings begins somewhere around 853 B.C. The kingdoms are still divided into two parts (Israel and Judah) and, as we’ll see unfold, the leaders of the kingdoms produced mixed results. As this book plays out, we’ll see the Babylonian Empire begin to assert its dominance to the point where God’s people no longer inhabited the Promised Land by the end of the book. Each of Israel’s kings did evil in the sight of the Lord. Some of Judah’s, on the other hand, remained faithful and even led Judah closer to the heart of God. Ultimately, however, it wasn’t enough to keep them from continuously violating the Mosaic Covenant outlined in Deuteronomy 28.
Each day as you open your Bible, take good notes. Read closely and carefully, paying special attention to the sequence of events that are unfolding before you. Try to visualize what’s going on in each chapter. That’s the fun of reading these Old Testament stories! Get to know these characters, both major and minor. What does each chapter in this book teach you about God’s character? What does it teach you about humanity? What are the implications for you today? These are the questions we’ll be seeking to answer over the next month as we continue reading the story of 2 Kings.
Read 2 Kings 1
The Lord’s Judgment on Ahaziah
1 After Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.”
3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!’” So Elijah went.
5 When the messengers returned to the king, he asked them, “Why have you come back?”
6 “A man came to meet us,” they replied. “And he said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’”
7 The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?”
8 They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.”
The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
9 Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”
10 Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
11 At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’”
12 “If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.
13 So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! 14 See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!”
15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.
16 He told the king, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!” 17 So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.
Because Ahaziah had no son, Joram succeeded him as king in the second year of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. 18 As for all the other events of Ahaziah’s reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
Although this chapter appears to be the beginning of a new book, 1 and 2 Kings were originally one book together, describing the history of Israel and their relationship with God from King Solomon until the exile. Because of this, our chapter skips introductions and wastes no time getting to the action.
Within the first few verses, King Ahaziah falls through the lattice of his upper room and becomes injured. Instead of turning to God, Israel’s king sends messengers to consult with a pagan god. The rest of this chapter describes the fallout of this choice of disobedience and rebellion. Elijah is sent by the Angel of the Lord to confront the messengers, and in turn, confront the king. He questions Ahaziah’s choice to turn to a pagan god instead of the one true God of Israel, and condemns him for it. In the end, Ahaziah dies, just as the Lord told Elijah.
This story, like many in the books of 1 and 2 Kings, shows us the consequence of sin and rebellion. The Israelites were God’s people, and yet their leaders repeatedly turned from God. When we sin or turn to something other than God for true healing and comfort, we see that God is the only true source of joy and life, and other “gods” are just imposters, and will not satisfy our needs.
We also can find a key takeaway in the part of the story where Elijah is called down from the hill by the king. The first two groups sent to retrieve Elijah were completely consumed by the fire of God. In these acts, we see God’s power and righteous anger on full display. For the final group, the Angel of the Lord commands Elijah to move toward what appears to be certain death or imprisonment at the hands of the enemy. While the other two groups showed the undeniable power of God, this last group shows his power in the face of scary circumstances. God worked through Elijah and protected him, killing the king after Elijah brought the message to him. Even when we are afraid and feel like we are in the hands of the enemy, we can still call on God to protect us and give us strength, and in time, we will see that he is in control and trustworthy.
- This is Elijah’s last noted passage before being taken up into heaven. What was the most memorable miracle that he performed in 1 Kings?
- Would people in your life call you a man or woman of God? Why or why not?
- What are the “gods” in your life that you are tempted to turn to before God in times of pain?
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