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Getting to Know the Bible: 2 Kings Overview



Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.


Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on 2 Kings. But before we get to 2 Kings 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of 2 Kings. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.


And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of 2 Kings, as we prepare to behold and discern 2 Kings, beginning with 2 Kings 1 in our next installment of this series.


Book Type: Book of History; the twelfth book of the Old Testament


Authors: The book itself does not name its author and remains anonymous. Jewish tradition states that it was written by the prophet Jeremiah. However, at least some of the book was likely written by someone else. Jeremiah did not travel to Babylon, and the events of the final section (2 Kings 25:27–30) occurred in Babylon in 561 BC.


Date of Writing: The Book of 2 Kings, along with 1 Kings, was likely written between 560 and 540 B.C.


Audience:

First and Second Kings were originally completed as one text, written for the Jewish people who were most likely living in exile when it was first completed. This Scripture emphasizes the history of the kings of Judah and Israel. Second Kings specifically continues the accounts of the kings of the divided kingdom and concludes with the deportations of Israel and Judah.


Original Language: Hebrew


Genre: Narrative


Timeline: First and Second Kings trace the histories of two sets of kings and two nations of disobedient people, Israel and Judah, both of whom were growing indifferent to God's law and his prophets and were headed for captivity. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings combined are a chronicle of the entire history of Judah's and Israel's kingship from Saul to Zedekiah.


Purpose of Writing: The Book of 2 Kings is a sequel to the Book of 1 Kings. It continues the story of the kings over the divided kingdom (Israel and Judah.) The Book of 2 Kings concludes with the final overthrow and deportation of the people of Israel and Judah to Assyria and Babylon, respectively.


Theme:

The author of 2 Kings directly connected the Israelites’ apostasy—led by their wicked kings—to their national destruction, pointing it out as God’s judgment on His wayward children. Despite repeated warnings from God’s prophets to turn from their ways and return to God, the people continued to live in sin. To their regret, they did not believe that God would allow their nation to be ruined by foreign invaders.


Yet God did not forget His promise to David, either. God saved a remnant from among the people and kept the royal line intact so that one day His people could return to their land to await the promised Redeemer.


Summary:

Second Kings depicts the downfall of the divided kingdom. Prophets continue to warn the people that the judgment of God is at hand, but they will not repent. The kingdom of Israel is repeatedly ruled by wicked kings, and, even though a few of Judah’s kings are good, the majority of them lead the people away from worship of the Lord. These few good rulers, along with God’s prophets, cannot stop the nation’s decline. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is eventually destroyed by the Assyrians, and about 136 years later the Southern Kingdom of Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians.


There are three prominent themes present in the Book of 2 Kings. First, the Lord will judge His people when they disobey and turn their backs on Him. The Israelites' unfaithfulness was reflected in the evil idolatry of the kings and resulted in God exercising His righteous wrath against their rebellion. Second, the word of the true prophets of God always comes to pass. Because the Lord always keeps His word, so too are the words of His prophets always true. Third, the Lord is faithful. He remembered His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-13), and, despite the disobedience of the people and the evil kings who ruled them, the Lord did not bring David's family to an end.


Overview:

This book consists of 25 chapters and includes two main sections. The first section records the ongoing ministries of Elijah and Elisha, leading up to the defeat and exile of the northern kingdom of Israel by Assyria (2 Kings 1—17). It begins with Elijah denouncing King Ahaziah and predicting his death (2 Kings 1). Elijah is taken to heaven in chapter 2, with Elisha receiving a double portion of his spirit.


The text then transitions to Elisha's efforts, through 2 Kings 9:13. Starting in 2 Kings 9:14, the overthrow of Baal worship is developed. This change begins in Israel (2 Kings 9:14—10:36) and then extends to Judah (2 Kings 11—12). Elisha's death takes place in chapter 13. This is followed by ongoing lists of kings from Israel and Judah. Chapters 16—17 chronicle the defeat and exile of Israel by Assyria.


The second main section (2 Kings 18—25) focuses on the kingdom of Judah. Hezekiah's godly reign leads to positive reforms in the kingdom (2 Kings 18—20). His reign is followed by two ungodly kings named Manasseh and Amon (2 Kings 21). Young King Josiah provides a righteous reign that includes rediscovery of the law of the Lord (2 Kings 22—23). However, his reign is soon followed by the defeat and exile of Judah by Babylon (2 Kings 24—25).


Though 2 Kings is marked by evil and its consequences, it ends on a positive note. Second Kings 25:22–30 concludes the text with mercy upon the king of Judah and hope of a future for the people of Israel.


Foreshadowing:

Jesus uses the stories of the widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings and Naaman in 2 Kings to illustrate the great truth of God's compassion toward those the Jews deemed unworthy of God's grace, the poor, the weak, the oppressed, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles. By citing the examples of a poor widow and a leper, Jesus showed Himself to be the Great Physician who heals and ministers to those in the greatest need of divine sovereign grace. This same truth was the basis of the mystery of the body of Christ, His Church, which would be drawn from all levels of society, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:1-6).


Many of the miracles of Elisha foreshadowed those of Jesus Himself. Elisha raised the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:34-35), healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-19), and multiplied loaves of bread to feed a hundred people with some left over (2 Kings 4:42-44).


Application:

God hates sin and He will not allow it to continue indefinitely. If we belong to Him, we can expect His discipline when we disobey Him. A loving Father corrects His children for their benefit and to prove that they indeed belong to Him. God may at times use unbelievers to bring correction to His people, and He gives us warning before delivering judgment. As Christians, we have His Word to guide us and warn us when we go astray from His path. Like the prophets of old, His Word is trustworthy and always speaks truth. God's faithfulness to His people will never fail, even when we do.


Key Verses (ESV):

2 Kings 17:7-8: "All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced."


2 Kings 22:1a-2: "Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left."


2 Kings 24:2: "The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets."


2 Kings 8:19: "Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever."


*Note:

Second Kings continues the history of the divided kingdom, picking up the story around 853 BC. In 722 BC, the powerful nation of Assyria invaded the northern kingdom, scattering and taking captive the people of Israel. Only Judah remained intact. But then Assyria suffered a stunning fall to the Babylonians, who took the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 612 BC. By 605 BC Babylon dominated Judah, had taken some captives away, and in 586 BC Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took additional prisoners into captivity. Many people who were considered valuable to the invaders, such as the prophet Daniel and members of the royal family, were taken to Babylon early on. By the end of Kings, the people of God no longer inhabited their Promised Land. Many areas of the country had been rendered virtually uninhabitable due to the razing, burning, and other destructive tactics of the Babylonian army, while the people had been enslaved, scattered, and decimated by their enemies.


Second Kings features many unique events and people. Two people were raised from the dead (2 Kings 4:32–37; 13:20–21). The prophet Elijah left this earth without dying (2:1–18); Enoch was the only other man in the Bible to do so (Genesis 5:21–24). The waters of the Jordan River rolled back twice (2 Kings 2:8, 14). These and other miraculous events testify to God’s continuing work among His people.


The time period covered by this book saw the emergence of the first writing prophets in Israel. Amos and Hosea went to the people of Israel, while Isaiah, Joel, Micah, Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah prophesied in Judah, both groups calling the people to repentance and warning them of God’s coming judgments. The author devoted extensive space to Elisha’s ministry after Elijah was taken to heaven, giving special attention to the numerous miracles Elisha performed.


None of the kings of Israel are described as having done right in God’s eyes; each led the people deeper into idolatry. Several of Judah’s kings were righteous, notably Joash, Uzziah, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Hezekiah held off the Assyrians by trusting in the Lord for deliverance. Josiah later instituted an even greater spiritual reformation. Neither effort, however, was enough to stem God’s eventual judgment on the nation in fulfillment of the curses of the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 28).


The book ends with an epilogue of sorts, giving a peek into the good fortune of Jehoiachin—Judah’s last true ruler before a series of puppet kings were installed by Babylon. If Jeremiah did write much of Kings, he could not have written this section, set in Babylon, for he had been taken away to Egypt years earlier.


May we establish, nurture, and grow a sincere love for the word of God, and study it lovingly & faithfully.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.


Love you much.


Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!


-Humble Servant


P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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