Death For Enquiring Of Other Gods
King Ahaziah of Israel was a foolish Baal-worshipper like his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. When he became sick after a fall, he sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub whether he would recover. Ahaziah flouted the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods!" The angel of the LORD ordered Elijah to confront the king's messengers. "Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub?"
2 Kings 1:4 - "Thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die."
Elijah Condemns Another Evil King - Ahaziah
Ahaziah's messengers reported that a man prophesied his death for seeking Baalzebub. Ahaziah knew it was Elijah. He sent a captain with fifty soldiers to fetch Elijah. "Man of God... come down!" they said. "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you!" It did. Ahaziah sent fifty more. More fire. He sent another fifty. That captain begged for his life. The angel of the LORD sent Elijah to personally deliver the curse to Ahaziah.
2 Kings 1:17 - "[Ahaziah] died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken."
A Double Portion Of Thy Spirit
Eventually, the torch must be passed. The sons of the prophets at Bethel and at Jericho reminded Elisha that "the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day." Crowds came to watch. Elijah smote the Jordan River with his mantle and it parted. The two crossed on dry ground. Elijah offered Elisha one last request. "A double portion of thy spirit be upon me." Ask, and it shall be so.
2 Kings 2:10 - "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee."
Passing The Mantle
The fiery "chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof" took Elijah up from Elisha in a whirlwind. Elijah's mantle fell down onto Elisha. The anointing was transferred. Anointing is transferable. True believers have Christ's.
2 Kings 2:14-15 - "He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and ...they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets ...saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. ...they came ...and bowed themselves to the ground before him."
Men Of Jericho Pray For Water
Fifty prophets saw the whirlwind carry Elijah away. Elijah was gone, but they searched for him in the surrounding mountains and valleys for three days in vain. Elisha said, "Did I not say unto you, Go not?" From then on, the people knew Elisha was in the place of Elijah. They prayed he would remedy the undrinkable waters in Jericho. He called for a cruse of salt, and cast it into the waters.
2 Kings 2:21-22 - "Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; ...So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha."
Elisha And The Valley Full Of Ditches
The Moabites paid hefty tributes to Ahab, but rebelled against his son, Jehoram. Jehoram recruited Jehoshaphat and Edom for war against Moab. Three armies started a seven-day journey, but famished for water. Jehoshaphat called Elisha, and the prophet said, "make this valley full of ditches." At sunrise, water filled the valley, and the sun's reflection looked like blood. Moab thought Israel was fallen in bloody battle, and moved in to take a prey.
2 Kings 3:24 - "When they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose up and smote the Moabites, so that they fled before them."
God Will Fill Your Vessel
A prophet's widow begged help from Elisha. She had no money, and her creditors were going to take her sons for slaves. Elisha asked what she had. "A pot of oil." He told her to borrow all the vessels she could find, and pour the oil into them. Miraculously, she filled every single vessel. Then the oil stayed. God can work with anything you have to meet your need. Just bring an empty vessel to God.
2 Kings 4:7 - "And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."
Thou Shalt Embrace A Son
A great woman at Shunem often provided meals for Elisha as he passed by. She persuaded her husband to build a chamber for the prophet, with a bed, a table, a stool and a candlestick. For their kindness, Elisha asked what favor could be done for them. His servant, Gehazi, informed him that they were childless. God rewards those who support His work.
2 Kings 4:16-17 - "He said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. ...And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her."
Elisha Raises The Dead
The Shunammite raised her son that Elisha prophesied during her barrenness. But after a few years, he fell sick and died. She carried the corpse into Elisha's chamber and quickly rode a donkey to Mount Carmel to fetch Elisha. He came and found the dead child in his bed. He shut the door "and prayed unto the LORD," then lay across the child until he became warm. Elisha walked around the house, then stretched across him again. Extraordinary faith in God produces extraordinary results.
2 Kings 4:35 - "The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes."
Elisha Feeds 100 Men Miraculously
Elisha fed pottage to 100 sons of the prophets, but someone unwittingly added poison herbs. "Man of God, there is death in the pot!" Elisha cast meal into it, and it was cured. Someone brought 20 loaves of barley and ears of corn. Elisha told him to feed the prophets. "Should I set this before an hundred men?" Elisha said, "Thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof." God can multiply your resources.
2 Kings 4:44 - "So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD."
Honor Your Master
"Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria." Naaman's maidservant was a captured Israelite who wanted him to go to Elisha for healing. Someone told Naaman, "thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel." We should honor our masters, even if they are enemies.
2 Kings 5:3-4 - "She said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."
A True Prophet Knows What Will Happen
Naaman, a Syrian, needed to see Elisha for healing. His king sent gifts to Israel, requesting the king to receive Naaman and heal him. The king of Israel said, "Am I God, ...to recover a man of his leprosy?" But Elisha heard, and invited Naaman home, and instructed Naaman to wash seven times in Jordan. Naaman indignantly refused, but his servant persuaded him to obey the prophet. He was healed.
2 Kings 5:15 - "He returned to the man of God, ...and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel."
Naaman Seeks Pardon
Naaman glorified God and tried to reward Elisha for his healing, but Elisha refused. "As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none." As a Syrian captain serving the King, Naaman was forced to accompany his King into the house of the false god Rimmon. He begged forgiveness in advance from God, since he could not possibly be excused. Thankfully, God is merciful during our dilemmas.
2 Kings 5:18-19 - "When I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace."
Elisha refused any gift from Naaman, but his servant ran after Naaman, lying. "My master hath sent me, saying, There be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments." Naaman gave him much more. But when he returned, Elisha asked where he went. "Nowhere." Elisha knew the truth. Greed and lies are cursed.
2 Kings 5:27 - "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, ...And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow."
The Iron Did Swim
The sons of the prophets acquired Elisha's approval to build a community dwelling near Jordan. Each man took boards, and they went to work building. One man was cutting down timber when the axe head fell into the water. He cried out, because it was borrowed. Elisha came on the scene, cut down a stick, and threw it in the water. "The iron did swim." If God can make an axe head float, He can salvage your loss.
2 Kings 6:7 - "Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it."
Revealing Bedchamber Conversations
The Syrians made war against Israel. But the man of God received revelation from God about the movement of the troops. Elisha sent word again and again to the king of Israel, so he was able to remove out of the path of trouble. The Syrian king was sore distressed, thinking a traitor was betraying him. But it was God. He sees all and hears all.
2 Kings 6:12 -"One of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber."
Open His Eyes That He May See
Elisha prophetically discerned the Syrian battle plans and warned the king of Israel. The Syrian king, Benhadad, sent a huge army with horses and chariots overnight to Dothan to surround and capture Elisha. In the early morning, Elisha's servant saw them, and cried, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" Elisha prayed, "LORD, ...open his eyes, that he may see." He saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha. God's invisible army surrounds His people.
2 Kings 6:16 - "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."
The Syrian Army Blinded
God opened Elisha's servants eyes to see His invisible army. Then Elisha prayed that the Syrian army would be smitten blind. God answered. Elisha led a blind army from Dothan to Samaria, to the king of Israel. He prayed again, and opened their eyes. God has power over your vision, to open or close your eyes, to serve His purpose. The king asked Elisha, "Shall I smite them?" He said,
2 Kings 6:22 - "Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master. ...and they went to their master."
The Grievous Depravity Of Sin
In Deuteronomy 28:53, Moses prophesied that if Israel forsook the LORD, "Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, ...in the siege, ...wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee." That is EXACTLY what happened following the God-hating generation of Ahab and Jezebel. Benhadad, king of Syria laid siege to Samaria. People were starving to death. The king of Israel was horrified to learn that women were cannibalizing their own children for survival.
2 Kings 6:30 - "The king ...rent his clothes; and ...had sackcloth [for mourning] within upon his flesh."
Elisha Prophesies To His Would-be Assassins
The king of Israel blamed Elisha for the famine and the Syrian siege on Samaria. The prophet, at home with several elders, discerned the king's plans to behead him. Challenging the king, Elisha prophesied that there would be food in abundance within 24 hours in the gates of Samaria.
2 Kings 7:2 - "A lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof."
Four Lepers Activate A Miracle
Four lepers sat outside Samaria, starving. "Why sit we here until we die?" They decided to enter the camp of Syrians who were besieging Samaria. "If they kill us, we shall but die." Miraculously, the Syrians heard chariots and horses of a great host, and fled - leaving everything behind; food, clothes, treasures, livestock. The lepers bequeathed their riches to Samaria. Elisha's prophecy was fulfilled.
2 Kings 7:16 - "The people went out, and spoiled the tents of the Syrians. So a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, ...according to the word of the LORD."
Do Not Trivialize Prophecy
At the time when Elisha prophesied abundance in Samaria within one day, "a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof." This fellow saw the prophecy fulfilled the very next day, but was killed before he could eat of the spoils.
2 Kings 7:20 - "And so it fell out unto him: for the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died."
A Prayer Partner Helps You Intercede
Elisha advised the Shunnamite woman to live with Philistines during Israel's seven-year famine. When she returned, she discovered that the king had confiscated her property. She went to him and cried for her house and land. Gehazi, Elisha's servant, "happened" to be in the king's chamber right then, and interceded for her. "O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life."
2 Kings 8:6 - "The king [said], ...Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land."
Elisha Foresees Benhadad's Assassination
Elisha visited Damascus while King Benhadad was sick. Benhadad sent Hazael with forty camel-loads "of every good thing in Damascus" to ask the prophet whether he would recover from his disease. "He may recover from his disease, but he will surely die." Elisha wept. The LORD showed him that Hazael would murder Benhadad, take the Syrian throne, and devastate Israel.
2 Kings 8:15 - "It came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on [Benhadad's] face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead."
King Jehoram of Judah - The Wimp
Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, married Athaliah, evil daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. After becoming king of Judah at 32, Jehoram murdered his six brothers, plus many Israelite princes. The Edomites and the town of Libnah revolted against him because he forsook the LORD. He lost all his battles - his armies retreated. Philistines, Arabs and Ethiopians ransacked his palace, and kidnapped his family (except his youngest son, Jehoahaz). Elijah accurately prophesied that he would die of a bowel disease. His name, "yoram," is now a colloquialism in Israel, meaning "wimp."
2 Kings 8:18 - "He did evil in the sight of the LORD."
Don't Repeat Your Parents' Mistakes
Over Israel, Ahab begat Ahaziah, who begat Joram. Over Judah, Jehoshaphat begat Jehoram, who begat another Ahaziah. So Ahaziah of Israel appears shortly before Ahaziah of Judah. Unfortunately, both Ahaziahs had evil hearts like Omri, Ahab, Jezebel, and their daughter, Athalia. Remember how Ahab died for disobeying God at Ramothgilead? Ahab's son, Joram, was critically injured in another battle at Ramothgilead. Elisha commanded Jehu to destroy Joram of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah. If only they had learned from their parents' mistakes.
2 Kings 9:7 - "Smite the house of Ahab, ...For the whole house of Ahab shall perish."
Elisha sent a prophet to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. He commanded Jehu to clean up after Ahab, Jezebel, and their son, Joram. He prophesied, "the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel." Jehu drove his chariot furiously to Jezreel. He killed Joram in the field Ahab stole from Naboth. He chased and killed Ahaziah of Judah. Then he called three eunuchs to throw Jezebel out the palace window. She died and dogs ate her body.
2 Kings 9:35 - "They found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands."
King Jehu of Judah
Elisha picked Jehu to be the king of Judah, to thoroughly purge Israel and Judah of its evil leadership. In Israel, Jehu ordered the death of the seventy surviving sons of Ahab, plus all of Ahab's near-of-kin. In Judah, Jehu purged forty-two of Ahaziah's brethren. Jehu shrewdly called all Baal worshipers and prophets of Baal together for a major sacrifice. As soon as they offered one offering to Baal, he had them all slaughtered. Everyone who might have sustained idolatrous Baal-worship was eliminated.
2 Kings 10:28 - "Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel."
An Incomplete Consecration
Israel rarely ever saw a king "clean house" like Jehu did. He destroyed all of Ahab and Jezebel's descendants, forty-two brothers of evil Ahaziah of Judah, AND all the prophets and worshipers of Baal. Nevertheless, Jehu left Jeroboam's golden calves (idols) in Bethel and Dan. Apparently, the massive purge was more to eliminate his own competition, than to sanctify the LORD God in Israel. Why waste your time doing only half of God's will?
2 Kings 10:31 - "Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart."
Jehu's Posterity Prophesied
God rewarded Jehu for removing so many evil leaders in Israel and Judah, by promising him that his descendants would continue on his throne for four generations. God often rewards those who tend to His business, even though they may have failures in other areas.
2 Kings 10:30 - "And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel."
Athaliah's Rise And Fall
Jehu eliminated evil king Ahaziah and his brethren. Ahaziah's ambitious mother, Athaliah, "destroyed all the seed royal, and made herself queen. But Jehosheba secretly hid Ahaziah's baby son, Jehoash, in the house of the LORD. Jehoiada, the priest, devised an elaborate security plan to keep him safe until he could be made king. Seven years later, he brought Jehoash out, crowned him and cried, "God save the king!" Athaliah screamed, "Treason!" But the guards killed her outside the temple. All justice needs is time.
2 Kings 11:21 - "Seven years old was Jehoash when he began to reign."
The Secret Of Godly Leadership
After years of chaos in Jerusalem, the child king, Jehoash, established his throne in righteousness. The principal reason for this is that he was constantly advised by Jehoiada, the high priest. Jehoash raised an offering to completely restore the house of the LORD. They gave the money to carpenters, builders, masons, stoneworkers, and to buy timber and hewed stone. The work of God prospers under righteous leaders who follow the counsel of men of God. God, give us such leaders!
2 Kings 12:15 - "They delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully."
The Prophetic Significance of Baby Jehoash
Jehu purged Israel of two royal families - Ahab's and Ahaziah's. Then, Ahaziah's mother, Athaliah, killed all Ahaziah's children so she could be queen. But Jehosheba secretly saved Ahaziah's infant son, hiding him in the house of the LORD for six years, protected by Jehoiada the high priest. If Jehosheba had not saved baby Jehoash, the royal bloodline of David would have ended. But divine prophecy cannot fail.
2 Kings 12:21 - "[Jehoash] died; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David: and Amaziah his son reigned in his stead."
Jehoahaz Delivers Israel From Syria By Prayer
Jehoahaz, fifteenth king of Israel, succeeded notoriously wicked people: Jeroboam, (who caused all Israel to sin), Omri (worst ever in his day), Ahab and Jezebel (still worst than Omri), and Jehu, who "took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD." God finally sent Syrian King Hazael to sack Israel. He almost took Jerusalem, but Jehoash, king of Judah, gave him the priceless hallowed treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house to appease him.
2 Kings 13:4 - "Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him. ...[and] gave Israel a saviour."
Chronicles, Not Chronological
Stories in Kings and Chronicles are often not chronological. The narrative covers two kingdoms (ten tribes of Israel in the north, two tribes of Judah in the South), and two lines of Kings. The stories are necessarily back and forth. Some kings ruled more than 30 years, others, only a few. Many characters have duplicate names. Several characters have multiple names. Many foreign characters appear. Chronicles includes details not in Kings. Diligent study cures confusion.
2 Kings 13:8 - "The rest of the acts of Jehoahaz, ...are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?"
Do It With Thy Might
Before dying of a sickness, Elisha said to Joash, king of Israel, "Take bow and arrows. Open the window eastward. Shoot." And he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the LORD'S deliverance from Syria." And he said, "Take the arrows. Smite upon the ground." And he smote thrice. Elisha was wroth with him. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
2 Kings 13:19 - "Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice."
God Restrains Hazael and Benhadad
Anyone should know that Israel's persistent backsliding was why they were finally taken away as captives by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. But for hundreds of years, God postponed their dispersion, giving them countless undeserved opportunities to renounce their sins. God sovereignly prevented Hazael, king of Syria, and his son, Benhadad, from defeating and conquering Israel.
2 Kings 13:23 - "The LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet."
Asking For A Double Portion
Before Elijah rode the chariot into heaven, he granted Elisha one request. Elisha prayed, "let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." That recalls the blessing of the firstborn in each family. Every heir received an equal portion except the eldest, who received a double portion. Elisha stood first in line for Elijah's heritage. Surely enough, Elijah had seven recorded miracles, but Elisha had fourteen. The last miracle happened after he died.
2 Kings 13:21 - "When the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet."
Amaziah Started Right, Finished Wrong
Amaziah, son of Joash, became king of Judah at 25. He did mostly right in the sight of the LORD. He killed his father's assassins, and organized 300,000 volunteers and 100,000 mercenaries to conquer Edom. A prophet advised him against the mercenaries, so he fired them. Amaziah defeated Edom, but foolishly brought home their idols and burned incense to them. He arrogantly challenged Jehoash, King of Israel, who called him a "thistle" attacking a "cedar." Jehoash attacked and humiliated Amaziah and stole his treasures.
2 Kings 14:19 - "They made a conspiracy against him: ...and slew him."
Saved By An Evil King
Azariah (better known as Uzziah) succeeded his father Amaziah as king of Judah. Jeroboam II ruled Israel. Uzziah was the greatest and most famous king since Solomon, but Jeroboam II was as wicked as his namesake predecessor. "The LORD saw the affliction of Israel," who suffered bitterly because of idolatry and sin. Nevertheless, God, in longsuffering, can still save, even if He has to use an evil ruler.
2 Kings 14:27 - "The LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam."
God Sends Uzziah To A Leper Colony
Azariah (Uzziah) ruled Judah for fifty-two years, doing "right in the sight of the LORD." But Uzziah outrageously entered the temple and offered incense with a censer. Azariah and eighty other consecrated priests commanded him to leave immediately. Uzziah got mad. "While he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD," 2 Chronicles 26:19. Stay in your ordained place.
2 Kings 15:5 - "The LORD smote the king, ...he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house."
Jehu's Royal Lineage
For his role in purging Israel of Ahab, Jezebel and Amaziah, God promised that Jehu would have descendants on the throne of Israel for four generations. His son, Jehoahaz, was followed on the throne by his son, Jehoash, then his son Jeroboam II, then his son, Zachariah. The fifth generation moved to Shallum - no kindred to Jehu. When God speaks to you, believe His word.
2 Kings 15:12 - "The word of the LORD which he spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit on the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass."
Longsuffering Expires, Punishment Begins
Jehu's lineage ended when Shallum killed Zachariah and took his throne in Samaria. One month later, Menahem killed Shallum, and ruled for ten years. His son, Pekahiah succeeded him for two years, but was assassinated and succeeded by Pekah, for 20 years. God gives evil generations a season and opportunity for repentance. But none of these ever repented. Finally, the Assyrians began carrying away the first Israelites into permanent exile.
2 Kings 15:29 - "In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and took ...the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria."
King Jotham of Judah
Jotham ruled Judah in proxy until the death of his father, Uzziah, who was smitten with leprosy for usurping the temple priest's office. At 25, Jotham became king and ruled righteously for sixteen years, along side the great prophets Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah. "Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the LORD his God," 2 Chronicles 27:6. Jotham is proof that a son can and should rise above his father's failure.
2 Kings 15:38 - "Jotham slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father."
Stupidity: Trusting Everybody Else, Spurning God
King Ahaz of Judah, son of Jotham, scorned the great prophets Isaiah, Hosea and Micah, and contemptuously sacrificed to idols, burnt his son to Baal, and gave the temple gold and silver to Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria, for protection from his enemies. Ahaz copied an altar from Damascus, placed it in the temple, made offerings to Syrian gods, and desecrated the holy temple furnishings. His was nauseating folly. Crowned at 20, dead at 35, "they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings."
2 Kings 16:12 - "The king approached to the altar, and offered thereon."
Northern Kingdom Ends Under Hoshea
The timeline on the nation of Israel ended sooner than that of Judah. The northern kingdom never had a righteous king after Solomon, so God was eventually forced to send them to judgment. Israel began to go into Assyrian captivity in the days of Pekah. He was assassinated by Hoshea, who was king when the northern kingdom finally ended. For 328 years, from Saul (1050 BC) to Hoshea (722 BC) the prophets had warned Israel against their sins.
2 Kings 17:6 - "In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria."
God Works By The Prophets
We owe it to ourselves to contemplate God's modus operandi. "The LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes." You can run from God, but you can't hide. He will always have the last word. Israel ignored him to their damnation.
2 Kings 17:23 - "Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria."
Samaria was a city and a region. After Solomon died, Jeroboam ruled ten tribes from Samaria with godless government, an imitation temple, and perverted religion - a despicable alternative to Jerusalem. Jeroboam made all Israel to sin with pagan worship, including two golden calves. Eventually, Assyrians carried the Jews away and placed heathen citizens in Samaria, with one Jewish priest per city. Today, it is illicitly called the Palestinian West Bank. Jesus will soon reclaim it.
2 Kings 17:24 - "The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, ...Cuthah, ...Ava, ...Hamath, ...Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria."
God + Other Gods = Does Not Compute
After the Assyrians carried the Jews out of Israel, Assyrians filled the newly acquired cities. Once-Jewish cities became heathen communities. "Therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them." They believed the lions came because they "knew not the manner of the God of the land." The Assyrian king sent Jewish priests BACK to live among the heathen and teach them how to fear Jehovah. Sounds like too many modern Christians. They fear God, but still love their "American Idols."
2 Kings 17:41 - "So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images."
"Nehushtan" - Copper Serpent
Fiery serpents were biting the Israelites, God-sent because of their murmuring. God instructed Moses to make a brazen serpent and have the
people look upon it for their healing. Amazingly, almost twelve generations later, King Hezekiah found Jews burning incense to that
brazen serpent! Idolatry! Hezekiah destroyed it, and God sent revival. Got any dead religious traditions you need to destroy?
2 Kings 18:4 - "He... brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to
it: and he called it Nehushtan."
King Hezekiah of Judah
Hezekiah championed one of the greatest revivals in Israel's history. At a time when the apostate northern tribes had been hauled off into Assyrian captivity, and his father, Ahaz, had recently been the most wicked of all Judah's kings, Hezekiah single-handedly turned the people back to God, removing high places, breaking images, destroying groves of idols, smiting Philistines all the way to Gaza, and trusting God like no king before him. Anybody can have a revival. Just do what it takes.
2 Kings 18:7 - "The LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth."
The Prophetic Implications of Obedience
Both obedience and disobedience have prophetic implications. When the Psalmist said, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD," the word "good" is not in the Hebrew text, suggesting that the steps of ALL men are ordered by the LORD. Whether or not you do His will, God predetermines your destiny. If you do well, you will be accepted. If you do not well, sin lies at your door.
2 Kings 18:11 - "The king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, ...Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God."
Give Your Problem To God
King Hezekiah received a vicious letter from the Assyrian King threatening to take control of Israel. Hezekiah had no might against Assyria, so he took the letter into the house of God and asked God to read the letter. That night, the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. God has solutions we can't even imagine.
2 Kings 19:14 - "And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD."
When Your Enemies Are God's Enemies
The Assyrians carried away the ten northern tribes of Israel. So when Rabshakeh brought threatenings from Assyrian king Sennacherib, Hezekiah called the prophet Isaiah. He told Hezekiah not to be afraid of the Assyrians. He reminded Hezekiah that Sennacherib had not merely blasphemed Israel, but the Holy One of Israel. God destroyed Sennacherib; his own sons killed him.
2 Kings 19:36-37 - "So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, ...and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword."
Hezekiah Prayed And Was Healed
King Hezekiah was dying, and Isaiah came to tell him to set his house in order. But Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, weeping sorely. The word of the LORD told Isaiah to turn back and tell Hezekiah, "I have heard thy prayers. ...I will add unto thy days fifteen years." Isaiah said, "This sign shalt thou have." The shadow would go backwards ten degrees. Isaiah cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward. Never accept defeat without a prayer of faith.
2 Kings 20:7 - "And he recovered."
Guard Your Precious Treasures
Hezekiah showed the king of Babylon's son all the precious treasures in the king's palace. Immediately, Isaiah prophesied, "All that is in thine house, ...shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. and ...thy sons ...shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." (That was fulfilled in Daniel 1:3.) Hezekiah cast his pearls before swine. Jesus warns, "They will trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you."
2 Kings 20:19 - "Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken."
Manasseh Corrupts Judah, Provokes God
Manasseh reversed the good his father, Hezekiah, did. For 55 years, he rebuilt high places, built altars to Baal (even in the temple), made groves of idols, consulted familiar spirits and wizards, worshipped and served the host of heaven, burnt his sons in the fire, seduced Israel to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed, and "wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger."
2 Kings 21:12,14 - "Thus saith the LORD, ...I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies."
Following A Horrible Example
When Amon took the throne of Judah at 22, "he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manasseh did. And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served." Why waste your life following someone else's bad example? A godly life is its own reward. Had he followed God instead, Amon probably would not have been murdered at 24.
2 Kings 21:26 - "He was buried in his sepulchre in the garden of Uzza: and Josiah his son reigned in his stead."
The Reading Of The Law Causes Josiah to Pray
King Josiah restored the temple after Manasseh desecrated it. Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the law. Shaphan the scribe read it out loud to the king. Josiah rent his clothes, exclaiming, "great is the wrath of the LORD ...because our fathers have not hearkened to the words of this book." He sent Hilkiah to enquire of the LORD. Hilkiah consulted Huldah the prophetess, and she prophesied over Josiah.
2 Kings 22:20 - "Thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place."
A Long-Prophesied King - Josiah
Around 920BC, Jeroboam built abominable altars and offered sacrifices to false gods. An unnamed prophet prophesied against Jeroboam's evil altar, foretelling a day when "a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee," 1 Kings 13:2. In about 600BC, over three centuries later, that prophecy was fulfilled.
2 Kings 23:16 - "As Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, ...and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar."
Josiah's Great Reformation Fails
Josiah called the elders, priests and prophets of Judah, and conducted an extreme purge of Judah's abominations. He killed the idolatrous priests and wizards, destroyed altars, images, vessels, groves, incense, high places, everything pertaining to Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Milcom, Molech, sun, moon, planets, familiar spirits, houses of sodomites, and horses and chariots consecrated to the sun. He commanded the people to keep the Passover unto the LORD. But Josiah could not change the hearts of the people.
2 Kings 23:26 - "Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah."
Huldah prophesied correctly. Josiah died before judgment fell on Judah. "There was no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, ...neither after him arose there any like him." But despite his heroic attempts to save Judah, Josiah could not change their wicked souls. His son, Jehoahaz, ruled wickedly and died within three months, followed by Jehoiakim (Eliakim) who ruled wickedly for eleven years. Judgment began. The end was near.
2 Kings 24:2 - "The LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, ...Syrians, ...Moabites, ...children of Ammon, ...against Judah to destroy it."
Nebuchadnezzar Takes Jerusalem
Josiah intercepted an Egyptian invasion of Assyria, and was killed at Megiddo, fulfilling Huldah's prophecy. Pharaoh Necho put Judah under tribute until Nebuchadnezzar conquered Egypt, and imposed rule on Judah for three years. Jehoiakim died, and his son, Jehoiachin, ruled. Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem. He took ten thousand captives, including all princes and men of valour. Israel's golden age was over.
2 Kings 24:15 - "And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon."
Moses Prophesied Of Nebuchadnezzar
Sometime around 1355 BC, Moses prophesied the invasion and conquest of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (ca. 587BC) as consequence for forsaking the LORD. Warnings from God should not be ignored.
Deuteronomy 28:47-52 - "Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God, ...The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, ...whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, ...which also shall not leave thee ...until he have destroyed thee. And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down." V. 63 "...and ye shall be plucked from off the land."
Zedekiah Calls On Jeremiah To Pray
As the end drew near for Jerusalem and Judah, Zedekiah wanted Jeremiah the prophet to enquire of the LORD what the outcome would be. Jeremiah was not nice. He prophesied copiously against Zedekiah - that God would utterly foil his efforts to fight Nebuchadnezzar, and "I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath." Oh, don't wait too late to pray!
Jeremiah 21:7 - "And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah ...into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon."
Jerusalem Falls Under Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar captured King Jehoiachin and exported nearly everyone from Jerusalem to Babylon. He installed Jehoiachin's 21-year-old uncle, Mattaniah, as a puppet king, and changed his name to Zedekiah. In his ninth year, Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar, so Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem. He killed Zedekiah's sons before his eyes, then put his eyes out, bound him, and carried him hostage to Babylon.
2 Kings 25:9 - "He burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, ...and every great man's house burnt he with fire, and ...brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about."
Sin Brings Total Ruin
Once Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and hauled off most of its citizens, some soldiers remained to finish the plunder, raiding the treasures in the house of the LORD, and cutting to pieces the holy furnishings of gold, silver and brass. He left poor people to be vinedressers and husbandmen. He installed Gedaliah as governor, but he was quickly assassinated. Most of the survivors finally fled to Egypt. Back in Babylon, the king released Jehoiachin from prison and gave him a permanent allowance as a dignitary in Babylon.
2 Kings 25:21 - "So Judah was carried away out of their land."
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