Old Testament Survey - Lesson 19

1 and 2 Kings (Part 2)

This lesson on 1 and 2 Kings will highlight the theological and historical narrative of Israel from the reign of David to the exile. It outlines how the Israelites' frequent forgetfulness of God's covenants, especially the dynastic promises made to David, influenced their political and spiritual trajectory. It reviews the reigns of various kings, detailing Solomon's ascent and failures, the division of the kingdom, and the ultimate downfall of both the northern and southern kingdoms. This decline is attributed to their leaders' departure from God's laws, leading to idolatry and the erosion of national unity and strength. 

Daniel Block
Old Testament Survey
Lesson 19
Watching Now
1 and 2 Kings (Part 2)

I. Overview of Kings

A. Introduction to the Lesson

1. Purpose: Analyze the narrative of I and II Kings

2. Approach: Walk through the theological plot of the text

B. Challenges in Understanding Kings

1. Complexity of summarizing the extensive narrative

2. Importance of understanding God's grace and covenants forgotten

II. The Downward Spiral from David to Exile

A. Continuation of David’s Legacy

1. David’s character and covenant in the background of Kings

2. The operating system analogy: Constant but unseen influence

B. Key Themes in I and II Kings

1. The promise to David and its fulfillment or failure by his successors

2. The covenant with Abraham and its historical implications

III. Significant Movements in I and II Kings

A. Early Loss of Memory

1. Solomon’s reign and the initial forgetting of David’s ways

2. Narrative of Solomon’s piety, wisdom, and folly

B. Division of the Kingdom

1. The division into northern and southern kingdoms

2. Impact of the division on covenant adherence

C. Demise of the Kingdoms

1. Final collapse under Babylonian conquest

2. Enigmatic note of hope at the narrative’s conclusion

IV. Theological Insights and Narrator’s Role

A. Role of the Prophets and Kings

1. Importance of prophetic and kingly adherence to Yahweh’s commands

2. Narrative assessments by the inspired author

B. Reception and Purpose of the Text

1. Intended for communal reading and hearing

2. Theological commentary’s role in understanding the text

  • Learning about the First Testament's language, geographical, and cultural contexts, and how these factors contribute to its frequent misinterpretation and underappreciation in modern times.
  • Gain insights into the literary and cosmic foundations of grace and glory in the Torah, understanding its role as more than law.
  • Learn that to be made in God's image entails embodying divine qualities and functioning as His representative on Earth, which extends a universal dignity upon all humans and shapes a theological ethic that influences how you treat others.
  • Genesis 1-3 frames human response to divine creation, emphasizing human dignity, work's moral role, free will's consequences, and the persistent grace amid sin.
  • This lesson reviews the Israelite covenant, understanding its stages, implications, and its role in God's redemptive plan.
  • Gain insights into Abraham's covenant with God, exploring his faith and God's promises.
  • Learn how the Exodus from Egypt marked Israel's transformation from a family to a nation under Yahweh.
  • Understand how the covenant at Sinai transforms Israel from slaves into a treasured nation destined for a divine mission, fulfilling God's ancient promises.
  • This lesson covers the covenantal expectations at Sinai. The covenantal agreement provided a constitutional and ethical framework for societal living, focusing on community rights and responsibilities.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into how the tabernacle was both a physical manifestation of God's presence and a profound symbol of His grace, emphasizing the holiness and detailed guidance He provided to the Israelites for worship and daily life.
  • Gain insights into Deuteronomy, recognizing its focus on teaching rather than legislation, and understanding Moses' role as an instructor of Yahweh's will.
  • In this lesson, you explore how to interpret the First Testament's historiographic writings, emphasizing the divine inspiration and literary artistry that guide the selective storytelling and theological themes.
  • Learn how the books of Joshua and Judges illustrate the fulfillment and failure of Israel's covenant with Yahweh, highlighting divine promise, cultural assimilation, and the cyclical nature of faith and apostasy.
  • The Book of Ruth, highlights divine providence, social justice, and personal righteousness while exploring the role of Boaz as a pivotal figure in maintaining the lineage of King David.
  • Samuel had a significant yet complex role in Israel's history; judge, priest, prophet, and crucial figure in establishing monarchy.
  • Learn of David's central role in the Bible, understanding his unique portrayal and the extensive attention he receives compared to other figures.
  • Learn about the Davidic covenant's role in shaping biblical history and theology, emphasizing its eternal impact on Israel and beyond.
  • The books of Kings and Chronicles use historical events to underline theological themes, highlighting the role of scribes in documenting Israel’s history.
  • In this lesson on 1 and 2 Kings, review the downfall of Israel through kings' forgetfulness of God's covenants.
  • Learn about Solomon's temple's historical and theological significance, its divine design and purpose, and its role in Israelite worship and communal life.
  • Gain insights into the transformation and resilience of the Judean people during their exile in Babylon from 586-539 BC, exploring their struggles and adaptations in a new socio-political and religious context.
  • Learn about Daniel's exemplary life in Babylon, his integrity, and his prophetic visions, which highlight divine sovereignty and the vindication of the faithful amidst calamities.
  • Review the Persian period's impact on the Jewish diaspora, analyze the Book of Esther's literary and theological significance, and reflect on divine providence and cultural identity.
  • Explore the crucial roles of Ezra and Nehemiah in reconstructing the Jewish community and faith post-exile, understanding their historical significance, source materials, and theological insights.
  • Gain insight into the roles and significance of prophets in ancient Israel, learning about their historical context, and their critical function in guiding and correcting the nation through direct communication from Yahweh.
  • Learn about the lives and ministries of prophets Amos and Hosea, their calls for justice and return to divine covenant amidst Israel's political and spiritual turmoil, through prophetic books that blend personal biography with national prophecy.
  • This lesson reviews Jonah's struggle with divine grace and Micah's advocacy for justice and the messianic hope.
  • In this lesson, you learn how Isaiah's vision portrays the Messiah as king, servant, and conqueror, emphasizing his divine roles and global mission.
  • Learn of the political and social contexts of Jeremiah and Ezekiel's exile, including Babylon's rise, Jerusalem's fall, and the crisis of faith portrayed in Lamentations, emphasizing hope amid despair through God's faithfulness.
  • Learn about Jeremiah's life and prophetic ministry, navigating challenges with kings, themes in the Book of Jeremiah, and profound passages on true religion and a future covenant, offering lessons on prophetic burdens, God's faithfulness, and spiritual transformation.
  • Explore Ezekiel's life as a priest in exile, his bizarre actions, and profound messages revealing Yahweh's passion and eternal promises of judgment and restoration.
  • Learn about Nahum and Joel's prophecies on judgment, hope, and Yahweh's character. Explore the day of the Lord and the expansion of the covenant community.
  • Explore Obadiah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah's prophecies. Discover themes of judgment, faith, and restoration in God's plan.
  • Gain insight into Haggai's role in motivating temple rebuilding during the Persian rule. His brief yet impactful ministry fosters hope and action amid community disillusionment, recoginizing God's presence and reign.
  • Gain deep insight into Hebrew poetry: its forms, parallelism, acrostics, and emotional depth. Explore its celebration and lamentation of Yahweh's glory.
  • Gain insight into Psalms which reflect diverse emotions and experiences. Structured into five divisions, attributed to various authors, their interpretation involves understanding Torah context, literary devices, and applying timeless principles to life.
  • Explore biblical wisdom's depth: from practical skill to moral insight, rooted in the fear of Yahweh. It contrasts with secular knowledge, emphasizing God's order and universal application.
  • Engage with Proverbs to unravel its diverse wisdom, from aphorisms to discourses. Understand its practical guidance for righteous living and leadership.
  • Discover the Song of Songs, a rich exploration of love's nature. From its allegorical interpretations to its celebration of covenantal love, it examines human relationships with wisdom and depth.
  • The book of Job offers insights into faith and suffering, exploring theological themes and character dynamics. It emphasizes trust in God amid life's most difficult trials.
  • Uncover Ecclesiastes' profound journey from despair to hope. Koheleth's existential ponderings contrast with the narrator's faith, urging a shift from worldly pursuits to finding fulfillment in God's sovereignty.

This Old Testament Survey course offers a deep exploration of the Old Testament's literary structure, divine covenants, and historical context. Lessons cover the Pentateuch, emphasizing its narrative over legalistic interpretations, and extend through key biblical figures like Abraham and Moses. Topics such as the covenant at Sinai, the concept of imago Dei, and the tabernacle rituals highlight the continuity of God's grace and the ethical implications of divine laws. The course critically addresses common misconceptions, the role of the Torah as instruction, and the portrayal of God’s plan, underscoring the relevance and complexity of these ancient texts.

Dr. Daniel Block 
Old Testament Survey
1 and 2 Kings (Part 2)
Lesson Transcript


This is part two of our lesson on witnessing the eclipse of God's grace and glory between David and the exile of Judah at the end of II Kings. My point here, or my goal in this presentation, will simply be to walk through the text, helping us track with the narrator the plot, the theological plot that is being developed in these two books, which really represent one single composition. So what we'll offer here is an outline and summary of, an outline of, and a summary commentary on I and II Kings.

It's like explain the universe in 10 minutes and give three examples. That's the challenge. Well, forgetting God's grace and God's covenants, that's what this narrative is about.

The downward spiral of the kingdom of Israel in I and II Kings is obvious. Although David is the principal character in I and II Samuel, the book of David does not end there. This is obvious in I Kings 1 to 2, which describes David the king's demise, but it preserves the memory of David and God's dynastic covenant with him, a memory that runs in the background of I and II Kings like the operating system on a computer.

It's always at work here. Some of the major concerns throughout I and II Kings are what has happened to the dynastic promise that God made to David in II Samuel 7, and to what extent have his successors fulfilled the Lord's ideals for the king as Moses spelt them out in Deuteronomy 17, 14 to 20. The narratives that make up the two books of kings begin with a crisis of succession that attended David's death, I Kings 1, 1 to 2, 46, and end with a complete collapse of the throne of David with a demotion and execution of Zedekiah at the hands of the Babylonians in II Kings 25.

However, the books of kings are also concerned about the fate of the covenant that Yahweh made with Abraham, Genesis 15 and 17, which I refer to as the first stage of the Israelite covenant. They're also concerned about the second stage, the covenant that he established with their descendants at Sinai and then reaffirmed with the conquest generation in Deuteronomy. Accordingly, readers, we who read or we who hear these texts read aloud, which is really why they were written, that we might hear them aloud read in community, hearers must keep their ears and eyes on the prophets and the godly characters, and they must keep their ears open to the words that come from God, the words that come from the prophets, the words that come from godly kings, and yes, the assessments of the narrator, the words that come from the pen of the author whose inspired theological commentary is vital to grasping the point of these two magnificent historiographic records, books.

The storyline in I and II Kings involves three significant movements, each of which demonstrates the nature and effects of Israel's amnesia regarding God's past grace and his covenants with them. They forget. First, you have the early loss of memory under David's successor, Solomon, the first successor, I Kings 1-1 to 1431.

Second, the significance of this loss in the division of the nation into northern and southern kingdoms, dominated by a case study in the effects of the loss of memory evidenced in abandoning Yahweh and the covenants within the two kingdoms, with remarkable attention to the northern kingdom of Israel. The books of Chronicles have little time for the northern kingdom of Israel, but here we have lots of time for the northern kingdom, especially under the rule of the Omrides, King Omri and his successors, especially King Ahab, I Kings 15-1 to II Kings 13-25. And then third, we have the demise of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah because of this loss of memory, that is II Kings 14-1 to 25-30.

The composition ends with an enigmatic but hopeful note for the dynasty, and with it the nation of Israel, as we will see in II Kings 25-27 to 30. So let's begin with phase one. I call this phase rotting in the roots, the rise and demise of Solomon's world, I Kings 1-1 to 14-31.

This text, this narrative of Solomon's reign, begins with a crisis of succession, the demise of David and the emergence of Solomon as king, I Kings 1-1 to 2-46. We already looked at that briefly in the context of the review of David's life. Second, we hear of Solomon walking in the footsteps of David, his piety, wisdom, and fame, I Kings 3-1 to 4-34.

Third, completing the theological vision of David, Solomon's construction of the temple for Yahweh, I Kings 5-1 to 9-9. Fourth, fulfilling the royal mandate of David, I Kings 9-10 to 10-29. Five, abandoning the way of David, the impiety and folly of Solomon, I Kings 11-1 to 40.

And then finally, a narrative epilogue, the death of Solomon in I Kings 11-41 to 43. This is the story of Solomon. It begins with a crisis of succession.

This involves the demise of David and the emergence of Solomon instead of Adonijah as the king of all Israel, all 12 tribes. This brief account begins with David's declaration of Solomon as his successor, I Kings 1-1 to 37, but of course he doesn't do this on his own. David, is he senile by now? But in any case, he's an old man, and he's not functioning on all cylinders anymore, and we hear that Adonijah has claimed the throne.

And because Adonijah, one of his sons, has claimed the throne, Nathan comes to David to challenge him to declare his successor. And in chapter 1, verses 28-37, David announces that Solomon will be his successor. Well, this leads then in the rest of chapter 1 to the anointing of Solomon, gives you the context of his anointing, Adonijah's reaction to the anointing, and then Solomon's response to Adonijah.

All of this is part of that first episode in Solomon's life where he is declared, but the principal character in this part is still David. David is on the decline, but this is the introduction of Solomon. What I want to touch on just briefly is David's last words to Solomon in 2 Samuel 2, verses 1-9.

Hear his charge concerning his personal spiritual commitments, and when we are reading the books of Kings, these are the sorts of words we need to hear. Pay your attention. David says, or the narrator writes, as the time of King David's death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon.

I am going where everyone on earth must someday go, but take courage and be a man. Observe the requirements of Yahweh your God. Follow all his ways.

Keep the decrees, the commands, the regulations, and the laws written in the Torah of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go. If you do this, then Yahweh will keep the promise he made to me. He told me, if your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.

That is a remarkable charge, but notice how deuteronomic it is. For David, the base of his ethic, the base of his life, was the Torah of Moses, and now when he hands over the reins to Solomon, his son, he says, take the Torah and let it govern your lives. Walk according to the ways of the Torah, and you and your descendants will live long on the throne of Israel.

This is part of his charge. That's not all that he says. In his charge, he then also instructs him on the threats to his rule that might survive, and he tells him to take care of some unfinished business with the people who had been such a trouble to David.

In chapter 2, verses 10 to 46, we have the establishment of Solomon as David's successor, and in the process, he eliminates all the threats to his rule. The second phase of Solomon's life is walking in the footsteps of David, the piety, wisdom, and fame of Solomon, 1 Kings 3, 1 to 434. The theme statement we find in chapter 3, verses 1 to 3, Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters.

He brought her to live in the city of David until he could finish building his palace and the temple of Yahweh in the wall around the city. At that time, the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship for a temple honoring the name of Yahweh had not yet been built. Solomon loved Yahweh and followed all the decrees of his father David.

That's an interesting statement. Solomon loved Yahweh. There are not many texts, many places in the first testament where anybody says anybody loved Yahweh, but here we need to understand the narrator's reference here.

Solomon demonstrated covenant commitment to Yahweh by following all the decrees of his father David, but then there's that, oh no, except that Solomon too offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. Well, in a sense, this is an outline of Solomon's life. The first part of the record of Solomon's reign is about all of his faithfulness to David.

He walked faithfully in the steps of David. He was pious, and God rewarded him with remarkable wisdom, power, and fame, and everything was going hunky-dory. The fame of the kingdom spread throughout the world.

This leads to the third phase of the Solomon narrative, completing the theological vision of David constructing the temple. In my headings, you will see that I am always bringing this back to David. Solomon does David's work in building the temple.

Here, in the first part of his life, he walks according to David's instructions, so he is heeding David's counsel there. But in chapters 5 to 9, we see the preparation for the construction of the temple, its physical appearance. Then there's an interlude in chapter 7 where it completes the vision of Solomon rather than David.

He constructs a massive, magnificent royal palace. In chapter 7, 13 to 15, we have the manufacture of auxiliary temple structures and furnishings, and then in chapter 8, that brilliant chapter of the consecration of David's, of the temple, we hear Solomon in this chapter offer this magnificent prayer and pleading with God, when people are in any part of the world, if they turn to this place that you have chosen for your name, if they turn to this temple here in heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land or answer their prayer. This is a magnificent moment when the temple is consecrated and the glory of the Lord enters the temple.

Solomon blesses the people. He gives his prayer of dedication, and then he concludes with another blessing and sacrificial festivities without restraint or limit. But then in chapter 9, we have the second appearance of Yahweh to Solomon.

Where the Lord comes with a warning. It's interesting that this comes right after the temple has been consecrated. I'm not sure the events happened that close together, but the author has put these texts right next to each other.

The Lord comes with a warning to Solomon concerning the temple and concerning his own rule that he better behave himself. In chapters 9-10 to 1029, we have Solomon fulfilling the royal mandate of David. His remarkable political administrative achievements are reviewed here, and his worldwide fame is celebrated, especially with the arrival of the Queen of Sheba, who says, I've heard of you, but I had no idea that you were so great.

And she actually gives a wonderful testimony of how privileged Israel is to have a God who has given them a king like Solomon. It's an amazing statement. But then we come to chapter 11, a sad story.

Abandoning the way of David, his impiety and his folly. In the first eight verses, we see the first instance of court-sponsored idolatry in Israel. And then the Lord's response, I am taking the kingdom from you, your hands, and from the hands of your descendants, and I am giving ten tribes to another person.

It's a sad day for the dynasty and for the nation, for now the split, the division that we saw already in the days of Saul between the northern ten tribes and Judah, that now becomes official, and God announces this to Solomon as the punishment for the sins of sponsoring idolatry. This leads then to number seven, the division of Solomon's kingdom, 1 Kings 12, 1 to 14, 31. Here you have Solomon's son is enthroned, and people come to him and plead with him, treat us more graciously and gently than Solomon did, who enforced labor on his own citizens in addition to bringing in conscripts from outside, but he forced his own citizens to fulfill his own personal and private schemes and dreams.

And of course, Rehoboam's response is, I'm going to be even stronger in my administration of my people and my kingdom than Solomon was, and he doesn't back off at all. In fact, he oppresses the people even more, which leads to the announcement through the prophet Ahijah that to Jeroboam, God has chosen Jeroboam to be the ruler of the northern ten tribes in place of the descendant of David, and Jeroboam accepts that rule. Except that he doesn't care one bit about the Torah.

He doesn't care one bit about the piety of David, who set the paradigm, the pattern of rule and character. He begins his rule on the wrong foot. His inaugural evil is described in chapter 12, 25 to 33, where he sets up these calves at Bethel in the south, right next to the border of Judah, and Dan in the north.

He says, there's no point in you going down to Jerusalem. That's not necessary. Those of you who live in the southern part, come to Bethel and worship, and those of you who live in the north, notice he is very, very clever in his syncretism.

I mentioned in the previous lesson that the forms of his religion are all pagan, but he baptizes it with theological orthodoxy. See, you're gods who brought you from the land of Egypt. Well, that's a truth that is orthodox.

But on the other hand, he also, it's not only syncretistic, but he also is making religion convenient. Why should you go all the way to Jerusalem to worship? Let's make it easier. You can do it at Dan, and you can do it at Bethel, and in the process, he sets up his own priesthood, his own objects of worship, his own temple, his own cult, his own religious calendar.

It's all paganized. We are rotting to the core. In chapter 14, you have God's verdict on this divided trunk.

In chapter 14, 1 to 20, the verdict on Jeroboam. He's a wretched sinner. He will be judged.

And in verses 21 to 31, the verdict on Rehoboam, David's grandson in Judah, he also is subject to God's condemnation. So, it begins with rotting at the roots. Well, in 1 Kings 15 to 2 Kings 1-18, we witness the rotting in the branches, the southern kingdom on the one hand, and the northern kingdom on the other.

The part one of this section deals with the house of Omri and the ministry of Elijah. That's 1 Kings 15, 1 to 2, and 2 Kings 1 to 18. As background to the rise of this house, the house of Omri which emerges in these chapters, we see the early conflict between Judah and Israel.

These two brothers never got along. Chapter 15, verses 1 to 24, discusses the conflicts between the north and the south from the Judean perspective, and then in 1525 to 1607, you have the perspective from the northern kingdom. In the south, Abijan of Judah succeeds Rehoboam, and then Asa succeeds Judah.

They're not lasting very long, and there's not much attention given to these guys. In the north, you have Nadab of Israel, and then he is followed by Beasha of Israel. Again, just a short paragraph.

But this leads then to 1 Kings 16, 8 to 28, the emergence of the house of Omri. Omri was not the first king, but from the beginning in the north, there is a struggle for the throne as we have a whole series of upsetting of the political apple cart, and in chapter 16, verses 8 to 22, we see that struggle for the throne between Elah and Zimri, and then finally Omri takes over as we have assassination after assassination, or should we call it coup after coup. There is nothing stable in this world.

The house of Omri emerges, and they make Samaria their capital, and now very quickly, this region becomes identified with the name Samaria. What happens in 1629, the focus is almost completely on the conflict between Yahweh and Baal for the soul of Israel. This section divides into two parts.

There is part one, the idolatrous reign of Ahab. It begins by describing the dimensions of his idolatry, 1629 to 34, and Yahweh's response to Ahab's evil takes up most of this in chapter 17, 18, and 19, and it all revolves around the prophet Elijah. Elijah shows up out of nowhere, and he announces to Ahab the drought, and the drought, of course, is the punishment of God who turns off the taps of the clouds in fulfillment of the prophecies in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26, the covenant curses, and as a direct challenge to Baalism, I mean the irony is Ahab is completely taken over by the Baalistic fertility religion that was brought down by Jezebel, his Phoenician wife, who represent the remnants of the Canaanites to the north and the west on the Mediterranean, but Elijah challenges Ahab to a contest on Mount Carmel to decide once and for all who rules in this place.

Is Yahweh the God of Israel, or is Baal the God of Israel? And we all know the outcome of that challenge. Elijah triumphs completely, and the Baalists are destroyed, and but Elijah is fleeing for his life, because now these Baal prophets were the official advisors to King Ahab in his court, and he's lost all his advisors. Elijah is forced to flee, and he flees to an obscure place, and he, under the juniper tree, he falls asleep, and then the Lord rejuvenates him, and it's an interesting story at the personal level of Elijah.

But the conflict between Ahab and Elijah is microcosmic of the theological conflict between Baal and Yahweh here. In 1 Kings 20 verse 1 to 2 Kings 1 18, we have the death of Ahab. It is predicted prophetically in 1 Kings chapters 21 and 22, and then in fulfillment of God's promise, or should we say, of God's prediction, Ahab and his forces are killed, and the story of the Omrides is brought to a horrific conclusion with the death of Ahab and Jezebel, his wife, at the hands of Jehoshaphat.

This is a sad story in Israel's life. Rotting in the branches, that was part one. Rotting in the branches, part two.

This is the house of Omri and its conflict with Elisha, and the ministry of Elisha. In the first phase of this rotting in the branches, Elijah is the prophet, but in the second phase, we have the story of Elisha, his successor. It begins with the transition of prophetic authority from Elijah to Elisha in 2 Kings chapter 2, and then we have very quickly the demonstration of Elisha's, he is a true prophet in the tradition of Moses because what he says happens as well.

The evidence of his authority is given with a series of the testimonies in chapter 2, the testimony of the sons of the prophets, Elisha's word, Elisha performs a sign, then there's the testimony of Elisha's curse. Everything he says is happening, proving again that Yahweh is God, even in the northern kingdom. They may not be worshiping him, but he is their God.

This leads to the next phase in the history of the northern kingdom, the conflict between Yahweh and Baal, the reign of Jehoram and Yahweh's response, 2 Kings 3, 1, 8 to 29, and from here it is downhill. Elisha is still present during Jehoram's reign, performing all sorts of miracles, but nobody is listening. The Syrians are coming and beginning to be a pain in the neck for the northern kingdom of Israel.

You have the amazing story of Ben-Hadad's siege of Samaria. Everything is going wrong, and by the end of this period, the Amorite dynasty is gone, and we have a series of new kings taking over. The end of the house of Omri is described in 2 Kings 9, 1 to 1120, with the anointing of Jehu, God's agent of judgment on this house, and so Jehu succeeds in assassinating the king of Israel, and also the king of Judah at the time.

For a brief moment, these two kings are working together, and then of course there's the brutal slaying of Jezebel in chapter 9, and the slaughter of all Ahab's household and supporters in chapters 10 and 11. But then we have a few flickers of light in the branches in the southern kingdom. There is the reign of Jehoash, king of Judah.

He refurbishes the temple, but unfortunately his is not a perfect reign. He uses the temple treasuries to buy off Hazael instead of trusting the Lord, but there's a flicker of light. Somebody is doing some right things.

There's a flicker of light also in Yahweh's compassion in the reigns of Jehoahaz and Jehoash of Israel. We see these flickers of divine compassion. He's not destroying the nation yet.

Graciously, he lets them continue. This is chapter 13. But this leads finally in 2 Kings 14, 1 to 20, the fourth part.

We've had rotting in the roots, rotting in the branches, and now we're talking about rotting in the limbs, but now we're talking rotting to the core. The demise of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, 2 Kings 14, 1 to 25, 30, to the end of the book. It divides into two parts, the demise of the northern kingdom, the background chapter in chapter 4. We've got a continued interest in both.

There's conflict between Judah and Israel, and in 14, we have a calm before the storm. The Assyrians are already on the horizon, but in his mercy, God lets Jeroboam's reign, Israel prosper under Jeroboam, but there has been no spiritual revival at all. In chapters 15, 8 to 17, 41, we have the fall of the northern kingdom to Assyria, Yahweh's agents of doom, and this process is actually quite complicated.

There's the prelude to the Assyrian advance. There's turmoil in the court of Samaria. Then the Assyrians come with their first strike in chapter 15, verse 16, take some of the northern territories.

There's a second strike of the Assyrians during Pekah's reign, 1527 to 1620, and then there's a third strike of the Assyrians, Uraut, strike three in Uraut, chapter 17, verses 1 to 6. And after these political and military events, remarkably, the author pauses to preach a sermon. Why did this happen? In chapters 17, 7 to 41, we have a brilliant sermon explaining sin as the cause, rebellion against the words of the prophets, and rebellion against Yahweh. If people persist in their rebellion, they will be judged.

Well, after the Assyrians' final demise in 722, when Samaria, the capital city, is destroyed, all that's left is the tribe of Judah. But unfortunately, the heading of this section is the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah to Babylon, the Lord's agents of doom. Yes, it starts with the reign of good king Hezekiah.

In fact, the account of Hezekiah begins in chapter 18, verses 1 to 8, with a very positive assessment of Hezekiah's role. And then it gives an illustration of Hezekiah's remarkable faith in the face of the Assyrians, who had just wiped out the northern kingdom and then come down to Jerusalem, to Judah, and Jerusalem. In the face of these Assyrians, Hezekiah trusts in the Lord, and through the mediation of Isaiah the prophet, God intervenes and gives miraculous victory, sending the Assyrians home.

They wake up, and the Assyrians have left, and Jerusalem is spared. Well, there are lots of evidences of Hezekiah's remarkable faith in the face of these Assyrians, an amazing man. But I wish the story had ended there.

It doesn't. In chapter 20, we hear premonitions of the end of Judah within the reign of Hezekiah. Some of you remember the story.

Hezekiah is ill, and he is sulking because he is dying too quickly, and the Lord hears his prayer and gives him an extra 15 years. Two problems with that. One, there is a lapse of spiritual focus.

After he is healed, Hezekiah has visitors from Babylon, and he shows them all the wealth of Jerusalem. Well, he should have known that the Babylonians have good memories. They leave this place, and they go back home, and a hundred years later, they're back.

A hundred years! And I ask myself, where is Hezekiah spiritually at this point? The other problem with this extra 15 years that God gave Hezekiah, what happened? Manasseh, his son, was born. If Hezekiah had let God take him home 15 years earlier, Manasseh would never have been born. And the story of Judah in the next 55 years could have been very, very different.

But his son, Manasseh, who reigned a long time, started as a young man, and for 55 years, he reigned as an evil man, bringing all kinds of pagan objects and pagan worship right into the temple. Well, this is the beginning of the end. Manasseh will succeed.

Interestingly, the author of Scripture of this text devotes only 18 verses to Manasseh, though he ruled longer than any other king. Eighteen verses. That's all he deserves.

But his reign is followed by a brief evil reign of Ammon, chapter 21, 19 to 26. And then we have Josiah. We're almost at the end of the story, and the Lord brings to the fore a man like this.

My heading for this section is, Escaping the End, The Reign of Josiah, the Model of Piety. Josiah is one of my favorite characters in Scripture. He's the only person in all of Scripture of whom it is said he turned to Yahweh with all his lev, inner being, with all his nefesh, that is, his whole body, and with all his resources.

Josiah was totally dedicated to the Lord. He is a good man. But it's too little too late.

In Josiah's reign, he commissions his people to refurbish the temple, and you know the story. In the process of it, they discover a copy of the Torah, a Torah scroll, and nobody seems to know what this is until Huldah reads this. And Huldah the prophet reads it in the presence of Josiah, and then she announces, first, all the curses written in this book, that's Deuteronomy 28, they are about to strike.

It's over. 586 is written on God's calendar for Judah. After the reign of Manasseh and Ammon, it's over.

The people are so corrupt that even Josiah's efforts at spiritual renewal fail. This is a top-down reformation, and the only person who benefits is Josiah. For Huldah, after announcing that the end of the southern kingdom of Judah and the Davidic dynasty is about to happen, then she says, oh, because your heart was tender.

I love that expression. It's used elsewhere of a tender green twig, a branch that is malleable and responsive to what's happening in the environment, whether it's sunshine or whether it's wind or the rain or whatever. Because you were responsive to the Word of God, you will go to your grave in peace.

Well, as it turns out, he was killed by an Egyptian arrow trying to intercept the Egyptians on the way to up north to help the Assyrians against the Babylonians who are on the rise. By a random arrow. Is there such a thing as a random arrow? It hit Josiah, and he died.

We would scarcely call that being going to the grave in peace. But the interesting thing is he is the last king of Israel or Judah to have a proper funeral, and he was buried properly, and he was given the honor of Jeremiah the prophet writing the official lament for him. Josiah's successors, not one of his three sons or his grandson had a proper funeral.

He was the last one. In my mind, Josiah is an Enoch figure. You remember Enoch, number seven in the genealogy between Adam and Noah.

It's a world that's becoming increasingly wicked. But then it says Enoch walked with God, and he disappeared. God took him.

God called him home. And in my mind, that's what happened to Josiah. Josiah, you belong with me, not with them.

This is where you are at home, and he brings them home. A sad story in many accounts. But in any case, in the end, all that's left is a couple of chapters.

Once Josiah is gone, you have the short reign of Jehoah has three months, then a slightly longer reign of Jehoiakim, then Jehoiakim three months, and finally Zedekiah. Every one of these guys is a rascal. It's over.

And in the end, the Babylonians come, and they destroy the land, everything, wiping out the cities, razing the temple, removing the temple treasures to Babylon, slaughtering religious and royal officials at Riblah. It's a sad story. The Davidic house is gone, except all.

In one of his visits to Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar was fed up with Jehoiakim, who was king of Jerusalem, and who was revolting and asking Egypt to come and help them against the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar came, and he took Jehoiakim captive, dragged him and ten thousand of the upper class to Babylon as captives, but Jehoiakim wasn't killed. He was removed in the providence of God.

This is my interpretation. In the providence of God, he removed ten thousand of the Judeans and a member of the royal family to Babylon, which functioned as a safe. We have safes in our houses where our precious documents are kept, so that if the house should ever burn, they are safe.

In the providence of God, Nebuchadnezzar had removed Jehoiakim to Babylon. And the book of Kings ends on a remarkable note. Nebuchadnezzar's successor, years later, among all the captive kings in Babylon, the Babylonian king elevates Jehoiakim and invites him to come and eat at the king's table.

Jehoiakim, well he shows up in the genealogy of Matthew as the link between the Messiah and the house that we thought had ended with the Messiah, Jesus, and the house that we thought had ended with Josiah properly and his sons who were all destroyed. But no, Jehoiakim is the key to the future. The book of Kings ends with this glimmer of hope for the Davidic house.

It doesn't give us a sermon on it. It just says, oh by the way, here's Jehoiakim, without comment. Intriguing, fascinating end to the books of first and second kings.