Text: 2 Kings 15-17 (Ps. 105)
Observe: Israel’s kings: 0/20 good. Judah’s kings: 8/19 good. Today’s sad lineup, in order of appearance:
Uzziah Named by Isaiah, who prophesied during his long reign. Pleased God BUT kept pagan shrines. The Lord afflicted him with leprosy, isolating him until his death. Jotham as regent in this period. Good, but…
Zechariah Did evil in the Lord’s sight. Assassinated by Shallum. Bad. Shallum After only a month, assassinated by Menahem. Probably bad.
Menahem Contemporary of Uzziah. Destroyed an entire town. His bribes and extortion stopped the Assyrian king from attacking Israel. Bad.
Pekahiah Menahem’s son. Continued Israel’s sins. Assassinated by Pekah. Bad. Pekah Continued Israel’s sins. Assyrian king invaded Israel during his reign. Assassinated by Hoshea. Bad.
Jotham Uzziah’s son. Pleased God. Rebuilt part of the Temple BUT let idol worship continue. Israel attacked Judah during his reign. Good, but...
Ahaz Jotham ’s son. Followed Israel’s sins, sacrificed his son, worshipped at pagan shrines. Stole silver and gold from the Temple, bribed Assyrian king to defend Jerusalem. Repurposed, relocated Temple furnishings to please Assyrian king. Bad, really bad.
Hoshea. Contemporary of Ahaz. Did evil in God’s sight. Exile, ‘because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God’. (17:7) Bad.
Worship became thoroughly syncretized under these kings, influenced by Assyria; priests teetered between gods and God. With no discernment, fear of God or obedience to His law, Israel knelt to the true God and whatever idols were handy. Foreigners settled Samaritan cities, bringing their idols with them. Despite a returned priest’s preaching the fear of the Lord, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner (17:40). A dark time, yet again.
Interpret: Reading these scandal sheets, we weary of repeated evil; imagine the depths of God’s righteous anger. Perhaps… ‘God sees the truth, but waits.’* Even the “good” kings disobey God, compromising wholehearted devotion in ignoring His command to destroy all pagan influences.
God gave the people the kings they wanted (or deserved?). But what they wanted was not what they needed – a true King of justice and mercy, of integrity and love, full of grace, sinless, worthy of worship -- a servant/King. The problems with nearly all the kings? They forgot ruling means serving. They forgot to worship God only. Eventually, God erased the kingdom of Israel, exile to Assyria the ending.
Apply: We too live in dark times and see/sense dark things around us: Visible – huge gaps between rich and poor; God’s male/female duality a mockery; increasing crime, poverty, homelessness; child abuse; euthanasia; world-affecting diseases; government corruption; societal and family breakdown; slavery; increased persecution of Christians; injustice; lack of wisdom and truth even in some church leaders, and so (onerously) on.
Invisible – principalities, powers, and spiritual battles; moral laxity; absence of true faith and love of God; idolatries, confusion, greed, anti-authority, unbelief, cynicism; my rights, my ‘truth’, Self as main idol. 2 Tim.3:1-5 is a chilling forewarning...
But God’s truth overcomes darkness: ‘In [His]light do we see light’ (Ps. 39:9); ‘… even the darkness is as light to You ‘(Ps 139:12a) ‘I am the Light of the world...’ (John 8:12) His light shines into the darkest corners of hearts. By His grace, idolatrous self-rule yields to His just and holy governance. We pray for those in authority, at whatever level, that their hearts will turn to “do what is pleasing to the Lord”. As ours must, constantly.
Ask: Lord, what idols do I still ‘worship’? Help me destroy them! What ‘kings’ other than You rule my life? Assume the throne of my heart. Lord God, would You grace me to obey, love and trust You alone? You bought me, at such great price.
Pray: These I ask in Your Name, King Jesus.
Song: The King of Love My Shepherd Is
*Title of a short story by Leo Tolstoy
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.