Discipline and Destruction
Read 2 Kings 23:27 (ESV)
And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”
How is God’s love reflected in His discipline?
The wise King Solomon wrote: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12). Like a good parent, God disciplines His people because He loves us.
In 1 Kings, we saw God’s discipline when He allowed Solomon’s kingdom to divide into two separate nations from which came mostly wicked kings. 2 Kings picks up the narrative and records the key events in the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah from 853-560 BC. (Like Samuel, the two books of Kings were initially one book so we should read them as one cohesive story.) 2 Kings explains how the nations continued to decline as they refused to listen to the prophets that God sent to warn them.
The northern kingdom, Israel, did not have a single king who did what was right in the sight of God. In 131 years, Israel had 19 kings back-to-back who did evil in God’s sight. God sent the prophets Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea to them. But the nation persisted in idolatry and evil pagan practices. As a result, God judged them by allowing their enemy, Assyria, to carry them off into captivity.
Judah, the southern kingdom, had 20 kings during this time. 8 of those kings were godly kings who did what was right in the sight of the Lord. But even they did not completely eradicate the high places where pagan sacrifices and offerings were made. Thus, idolatry remained a problem in the nation, especially when there was a transfer of leadership. God sent the prophets Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk to the people of Judah during this time. But because the people of Judah refused to repent, God eventually allowed them to be exiled to Babylon (136 years after Israel was captured by Assyria).
On the surface, it may seem like the book of 2 Kings is just a story of doom and gloom. But the Scarlet Thread of redemption shines brightly in the ministries of two of the prophets to Israel—Elijah and Elisha. Elijah points ahead to John the Baptist (see Matthew 11:14 and Luke 1:7). Like John the Baptist, Elijah wore garments of hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and lived mostly in the wilderness. They also shared the same core message—repent. The miracles that Elijah experienced during his ministry (recorded in both 1 and 2 Kings) are evidence that the Lord is God Almighty and He is the One who has the power to sustain life.
The prophet Elisha succeeds Elijah and he is a foreshadowing of Christ. He performed miracles that remind us of Jesus. He raised a boy from the dead, healed lepers, and multiplied food. In His miracles, we see how God worked through him to love and care for His people.
But I believe the Scarlet Thread is most noticeable in 2 Kings 11 when Queen Athaliah of Judah tried to destroy the entire royal family. Yes, she killed her own grandsons because she wanted to usurp the throne. That is the depth of the wickedness in the nations. This is significant because, had she been completely successful, the line of David would have ended before the promised Messiah arrived. But we see the hand of God graciously preserving a descendent of David, the child Joash through two brave women, his aunt and his nurse. These women hid him at their own peril in the temple for six years until he was rightfully anointed king of Judah.
Some people view God’s discipline of Israel and Judah as overly harsh. But when I read the books of 1 and 2 Kings, I see an exceedingly patient God. I see a God who sent prophet after prophet to warn His people and plead with them to turn back to Him for hundreds of years. I see a Father God who loves His children enough to discipline them. But I also see a God who is just. He will not allow sin to go unpunished forever. Friends, we know God is patient and He longs for us all to turn back to Him. But He isn’t going to let sin go unpunished forever. Let’s not test His patience. If you have sin you need to confess and repent of, don’t wait. Do it today.
Lord, thank You for Your patience with me. I know that I have sinned against You and have not always loved You with my whole heart. Please forgive me. Thank You for loving me enough to discipline me and bring me back to You. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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