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Sermon33 2Kings22-23 Guide

2 Kings 22-23, theme verse 2 Kings 8:19

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks true worshipers who worship Him with the Spirit and truth.

After the dark time of the Judges, even though God installed kings for them as they requested, in the beginning of the era of the united kingdom, they seemed to be blessed to be a great nation in their history, and in the time of Solomon, he started as a humble king, so that he not only reigned the Israel very well with the wisdom God gave him, but also his territory became great, but, after he took too much silver and gold with many horses and 1000 wives and concubines, to break the rules for king, in the end, he committed idolatry to provoke God’s wrath so that he was punished by God that his kingdom will be divided by two – Northern Israel where Jeroboam reigned as a king, while Southern Judah where Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, reigned, after his death. And Northern Israel continued to worship the Golden calves which Jeroboam built instead of the temple worship at Jerusalem, and also the frequent changes of dynasty, etc., so that Northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria and the people was moved to and scattered all over Assyrian territory and also the remaining people in Samaria were mixed with Assyrian people by the policy of racial mixing. Because of that, until now, Jews despised Samaritans. And Southern Judah seemed better when Hezekiah and Josiah, two good kings tried to reform Southern Judah by destroying the high places, but since it was not enough to return them to God and even Manasseh, who was born to Hezekiah, rebuilt the high places for idolatry and also worshipped other gods even inside the temple of God, so that Southern Judah was destroy by Neo-Babylon who became the strong player in Mesopotamia after Assyria, after 130 years later the Northern Israel was destroyed and they were captive to Babylon for 70 years and 70 years later God returned them to Jerusalem via Cyprus of Persia. So we would like to learn few lessons from the stories of the kings by looking at the Book of Kings together.

1) The book of Kings records the story of Solomon and also the stories of kings of the divided kingdom of Israel with the stories of the prophets, Elijah, Elisha and Isaiah. The structure of the Book based on the progress of the stories is;

- In the first kings chapter 1 through 11, the story of Solomon is recorded in which Solomon was very humble in the beginning. But, due to too many wives and concubines, he committed idolatries so that he was declared that in his son Rehoboam’s time, the Israel will be divided by two.

- In the following chapter 12 through 16, the stories of kings who did not follow God’s will in the early divided kingdoms were recorded.

- And then in the long chapters from the first kings chapter 17 through the second kings chapter 8, the stories of prophets, Elijah and Elisha, who tried to return the hearts of the kings of northern Israel who committed sins against God were recorded.

- And in the second kings chapter 9 through 17, even though God install Jehu to judge Amori and Ahab of the Northern Israel, Jehu failed to reform the northern Israel since he did not follow the LORD sincerely and committed the sins to vow down to the golden calves to follow the sins of Jeroboam so that the northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria.

- And then in the following chapter 18 through 23, even though two kings of Southern Judah, Hezekiah and Josiah, God wanted to reform the kingdom, yet because of great sins of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, God did not change His will to destory it

- So that in the following chapter 23 through 25, the story of the destruction of Judah by Neo-Babylon was recorded sadly.

By the way, in this history of the divided kingdom of Israel, there were few challenges which the kings of the northern Israel and southern Judah were faced up with.

2) The first challenge came from the external. I mean, the territory of the united kingdom of the Israel by King Saul, David and Solomon reached to the northern Euphrates river so that the Israel became a strong powerful force between the north-eastern Assyria and South-western Egypt. But, after Solomon, when his son, Rehoboam became the king of the Israel and the elders of the northern Israel came and asked him to reduce their heavy yoke to build God’s temple and his palace in the time of Solomon, he refused it so that northern 10 tribes except the Judah and Benjamin, appointed Jeroboam as their king and the Israel was divided by the northern Israel and Southern Judah as God declared to Solomon. Then 120 years of the united kingdom ended and the era of the divided kingdom inaugurated. At this time, the territory of the northern Israel and southern Judah became shrinked a lot. And since that time, the northern Israel and southern Judah was suffered by Assyria who became the most strong player in the mid-Eastern Asia and Aram who became independent from Israel and also the Egypt who tried to recover their old glory again.

3) By the way, there were also internal challenge to the northern Israel of Jeroboam and the southern Judah of Rehoboam. First, the challenge of northern Israel came from the fact that Jerusalem where God’s temple was located in the land of southern Judah. I mean, since every Israel males over 20 years old were ordered to came to the temple to sacrifice the offering in three feasts of pass-over, feast of harvest and feast of Booths, as Duet 16 says, so Jeroboam who worried that his people might turn back to Rehoboam, when they went to the temple, so he made two calves of gold and set one in Bethel and the other put in Dan and let them worship there. And also he built the temple on high places and appointed priest from among all the people who were not the Levites and let people vow down there. Even though God warned them against this golden calves and high places, Jeroboam did not hear and died. But, these golden calves and the temples on high place became the worship place of the kings and people of northern Israel so that these became the cause of the destruction of the northern Israel. By the way, in southern Judah, two good kings, Hezekiah and Josiah destroyed high places, yet, the high places continued to survive by other kings, holding them back so that they caused southern Judah to fall into syncretism and idolatries which finally resulted in their destruction by Babylon too. As such the high place which decisively destroyed the monotheistic faith in the LORD in southern Judah and northern Israel were called “Bama” in Hebrew, meaning “High Place”. Originally they were built on high mountains for the worshipping the Canaanite gods such as Baal and Asherah. But, even after the conquer, the Israelites who thought that God lived on high, did not remove them, rather used the high places as the place to worship the LORD, even though it violated the rule in Deut 12:11 which commanded to offer sacrifices in the place where the LORD God will choose to place His name. And these high places became a hotbed of religious syncretism and idolatry, infuriating God which resulted in the destruction of both kingdoms.

4) So, the kings were responsible for dealing with these internal and external challenges. But, especially the kings of the northern Israel were suffered with instability, due to the inherent limitation that it started from rebelion to the David dynasty, so that over the course of about 200 years, the dynasty changed eight times, and nineteen kings were established, yet, not one of them lived according to God’s will and were evaluated as evil king in the Bible by vowing down to the golden calves and also in the temple of high places. The Omri dynasty and Jehu dynasty were the worst of them. I mean, Zimri who was the commander of half chariots of Elah, the son of Baasha, killed king Elah and became the king, but, at that time, all Israel made Omri the commander of the army their king and then Zimri killed himself to end his 7 days of ruling. This king Omri built a fortress in Samaria and ruled over from there and made most strong northern Israel, but by worshipping to Golden calves and vowing down in the high places, the Bible evaluated him as an evil king. And Ahab after Omri also worshipped Baal so that he received God’s punishment of the great famine and caused the destruction of the Omri family by God. So, in the time of Ahab’s son, Jehoram, God anointed Jehu through prophet Elisha and commanded to kill whole the family of Omri and also destroy all the high places to reform the northern Israel, yet since Jehu again worshipped the golden calves, the reformation finally ended with failure and he was evaluated as an evil king. After Jehu, when his great grand son, Jeroboam II became king, he destroyed Aram who became weak by several with Assyria, to open the golden age of the Northern Israel, yet, since he also continued to worship the golden calves so that as Micah prophesied, the northern Israel was destroyed by Assyria and all the people were captured and dispersed in the Assyria and also Samaria was occupied by Assyrian people and by the policy of racial mixing, the Samaritans were continually condemned by Jews until now. By the way, southern Judah was a little bit better so that except Athaliah all the kings of David family ruled over it. Among them two good kings, Hezekiah and Josia had reformed the southern Judah to destroy the high places. Especailly Josia commanded to clean the temple, when they found the book of the law, he repented and called all the people to make the covenant to obey to God with all their heart and all their soul, and also to keep God’s law. That is the today’s text we read together. And in addition to them, there were few kings to follow David’s way, even though they did not destroy the high places, such as Jehoshaphat, Joash, Athaliah and Jodam. And also there were kings, Asa and Uzziah who in the beginning followed David’s way while not destroying the high places, but in the later, they went aside. But, Manasseh who was born to Hezekiah, when his life was prolonged 15 years by prayer when he was declared to die, returned all his father’s achievement so that he not only rebuilt the high places to worship there, but also he worshipped idols inside the temple, so that he provoked God’s wrath, so that even southern Judah was destroyed by Neo-Babylon at BC 586 and lots of people were cative in Babylon for 70 years.

5) Through today's passage, we would like to learn few things. First, while looking at the kings of the northern Israel and southern Judah, we can see that the Bible has a unique criteria for evaluating kings as good or evil. I mean even though King Omri of Northern Israel made Northern Israel the most powerful nation. And also Jeroboam II of the Northern Israel was the longest-serving king of Northern Israel, ruling for 41 years while he conquered Aram and restored much of Israel's lost territory, leading to a golden age of northern israel, but they were recorded in the Bible as evil kings. And Also, even though King Manasseh in southern kingdom externally maintained a good relationship with Assyria by paying tribute to Assyria, and internally, he earned people’s heart by rebuilding the high place that had been destroyed during the time of his father Hezekiah and let the people worship there, and became the longest-reigning king in the North and South, but the Bible evaluated him as an evil king either. Therefore, we can know that the criteria for evaluating good or evil about a king is not “how well did the king rule the country?” or “was it stronger or weaker than the surrounding countries?” or “was its territory large or small?” Rather, the criteria was how faithfully and sincerely the king tried to live according to God's will. That path was called the way of David in the Bible that.

- to Read and meditate on the Word of God and live by it,

- to Obey the will of God,

- And even if he slipped away due to his weakness and shortness, to confess sins and return to God.

- And to rely entirely on the grace of God in humility and meekness

I pray that all of us here today may walk in the way of David to become recognized as good by God. And secondly in this era when his kings and people slipped away toward destruction, what do you think God do? He seems not just watching them, turning his back. I mean, When the worst king Ahab commited sins, God sent Elijah to return him back to Him, and also responded to Elijah’s prayer to burn all the wet sacrifices, when Elijah fought with 450 prophets of of Baal and 400 prophets of Aherah, in the Mount Carmel. And also in the time of Jehoram, the son of Ahab, God anointed Jehu, through Elisha, and commanded to kill all the Omri family and destroy all the high places, even though Jehu failed to reform the northern Israel by worshipping the golden calves in the end. In addition, during the period from Jeroboam II until the fall the northern Israel, God sent the prophets Amos and Hosea to warn the social corruption and idolatry, even though the northern Israel was destructed as Micah prophesied. And also in the southern Judah, when king Joash worshipped in the high places and because of the plague of grasshopper, when the people were suffered with famine and poverty, God sent Joel and declared the repentance to him. And also in the time of Hezekiah, God sent Isaiah, while in the time of Josiah, God sent Zephaniah. And also in the last days of Southern Judah, God sent the prophet Jeremiah and Habakkuk to warn their sins But, in the end, Southern Judah was destroyed by Babylon due to its accumulated sins, and many people were taken captive to Babylon, since they did not hear the voice of the prophets. And even during the Babylon exile period, God told Southern Judah through the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel not to lose hope. In this way, God sent prophets to warn Israel every time they sinned, and even sent prophets to proclaim hope even while Israel was being destroyed and taken captive as punishment for their sins. Through this, first, we know that even though God allowed the mornarch rule by kings, after they did not like God’s rule through the judges, but since kings were also merely imperfect human beings, so they did not obey to God's will, by worshiping idols, and committed moral crimes, they were doomed to destruction. Secondly, even though Israel continuously sinned before God, yet we can see that God continued to love them to the end and faithfully keeps His covenant by sending His prophets to tell them to repent and return. But, even in addition to that, do you know that there’s another hidden grace of God in this sad story of the two fallen kingdoms? That message appears three times in 1 Kings 11:36, 15:4, and 2 Kings 8:19. That is the word that “David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to put my name.” And here, some interpret the lamp of David as the promise of God to preserve the kingdom of David, based on 2 Sam 14:7 and 27:11. Yet, since the king was no more installed after the exile, this interpretation seems a bit unreasonable so that we can notice that there’s hidden message in this word. First of all, we can know that this lamp of David has the foundation from the Davidic covenant that God promised “Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me and your throne shall be established forever,” as 2 Sam 7:16. In other words, the lamp of David mean Jesus Christ who will inaugurate and accomplish the Kingdom of God, as Psalm 132:17 prophesied “There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.” And Matthew 1:1 confirms that Jesus Christ is the son of David and also John chapter 1 introduces Jesus Christ who is the true light of the world, came to His own, yet his own people did not receive him. Yes. That’s right. into the place where the judges and the kings failed, Jesus came and lighten the darkness so that He became the lamp of the world. That is the hidden message of the book of the kings which God prepared not for the Israel but also for us. As such, Jesus Christ who is the lamp of David, and also the Word of God, as the hidden grace of God came to us as Savior and Lord. That’s why John 1:1 says that Jesus Christ is the Word from the beginning. And Psalm 119:105 says that His word is the lamp to our feet and a light to our path and also John 14:26 says that the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father sent in His name, will teach us all things and bring us to our remembrance all that Jesus have said. Therefore, we have to invite our Lord Jesus who is the Word in our heart, feeding our heart with his word to live in new life. And even when we slipped away, as His living and active word, discerning our thoughts and intentions of the heart, expose the hidden sind in us as Heb 4:12 says, we have to kneel down under the cross to confess our sins and return to him so that we all may become His good people.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 Looking at today's text, even though God said them to return ever time when they slipped away even after receiving God’s word, in the end both Northern Israel and Southern Judah were destroyed. Through this sad story we can know that we human beings are totally unable to save by ourselves. After reviewing the history of Israel and your life, why we are only the being who needs His grace, I hope you may share your thought with your team members.

Q2 Second, in the Old testament era, God sent and spoke through the prophets, in the New testament when the Bible was completed, we can know that God may speak us through the Bible so that if we do not obey to the Holy Spirit leads us to read and meditate on the Bible and to apply it to our lives, then we can know that nothing happens in our lives. So after reviewing your life of the word, you may share how the Holy Spirit leads us to the life of word with your team members for your growth.

Love you. Thank you. God bless you.

Prayer Note

Dear ( God’s attribute which you found Today ) God!

Thanks for ( something you received through the sermon or even during the week )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( the sin God reminded through the sermon ),

please forgive (or heal) me and help me not to repeat ( the sins you recognized ).

I learned that ( something you learned through the sermon )

Please help me to live in that ( learned way of life )

I pray in ( Jesus’ attribute you find ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

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