Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are 2 Kings 15-17
Y’all, I feel like we’ve burned some calories this week in our readings! Well guess what? Hang onto your hats because it ain’t slowing down today!
In fact, there is so much going on in our reading today that I think we could easily spend a week or more on these few chapters. Perhaps on the next cycle we will go deeper. That is the goal, reading the Bible – from the beginning to the end – in a repeating cycle, so that each time we learn more and more as the Father prepares our hearts and minds to glean the wisdom He wishes to impart to us.
If at all possible, I’d love for you to read all of these notes because I’m going to connect the dots of our current readings with the culmination of a much greater event.
If you didn’t print out the chart of Kings I made when I posted it, it would still be helpful to do today. Click here.
I’ve been marking up my Bible in the following way and it has really helped the repetitive theme YHWH is showing us to come to life:
- Whenever a king is introduced, a sentence or two after it tells us if he did was was good in the eyes of YHWH or if he did what was evil in the eyes of YHWH. Sometimes this is worded as He did not do what was good in the eyes of YHWH. I’m highlighting the sentence about evil with one color and the sentence about good with another.
- I’m also highlighting (in another color) the persistent references to Jeroboam that are in every passage about a king doing what was evil in the eyes of YHWH. Most of them start out mentioning his name directly but later on he will simply be referenced with the line “walked in the way of the kings of Israel…”.
- In the passages where the kings did what was good, we’ll see another line following that which is heartbreaking “Nevertheless, the high places were not torn down” or something to that effect. I’m highlighting that in another color as well. We will see a different line in its place tomorrow, thanks be to the Father!
I encourage you to go back and do this. It is easy to do with a quick scan of the text. In doing so you’ll see how often we are given this information and begin to understand, more fully, why it is so important. The sins of Jeroboam are referenced time and again. YHWH holds Jeroboam’s sin up as an example of what NOT to do. This should encourage us to study his sins further. You can read those notes by clicking here.
2 Kings 16:3 Did you catch that? Sacrificing their own children.
SO much of today’s reading, especially the following passage, is hard to read because, if I really look at our world today, it is difficult for me not to read these passages and feel as if I am a child among a group of children who have been sat down and called out on the extent of their transgressions.
I feel no joy in reading this.
I feel no disconnect.
I see us today, YHWH’s people, in this passage. And that hurts me. It causes an ache within my very soul – and it drives me to read His Word for myself, to tear down the high places, to dedicate myself to Him daily, and to strive to please my Lord, the Father.
~Exile Because of Idolatry~
2 Kings 17: 7 And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. 9 And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.
19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
Israel has sunk so low. They are utterly fallen away, willingly choosing the ways of the world that they willingly knit themselves to despite clear directives not to.
But has YHWH broken His covenant with them? No, He has not. The Father does not break His covenants. He is Faithful.
And recall, commit it to memory, wear it at the forefront of your mind and heart at all times that He said:
“I am YHWH, I do not change.” Malachi 3:6
Read that again.
I am YHWH, I do not change.
We change. We falter. We sway in our allegiances and we take our greatest priorities one day and use them as a stepping stone to get to something else the next. We tear down one high place with our right hand while building another with our left. We go after other gods while telling ourselves and others that we are only serving Him.
❤️But our Father, our precious Father, He remains faithful. ❤️
Let’s recall what He said in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 because it will help us to see what He is doing here.
2 Samuel 7:12-16 English Standard Version (ESV)
12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 BUT MY STEADFAST LOVE WILL NOT DEPART FROM HIM as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
“But my steadfast love will not depart from him….Your house and your kingdom shall be made forever sure before me.”
Now check this out:
Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am YHWH their God. Leviticus 26:44
The House of David, the house of Israel. He will not break His covenant with them. The throne will be established forever.
2 Kings 17:21-23 shows us that He will send us into exile so that we will seek to return to Him. Sometimes we need His absence so that we can appreciate His presence.
Living in our times, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine what it felt like to be one faithful to YHWH while living within a society that had so boldly turned against Him.
Their leaders, loved ones, friends, the ones who called themselves servants of YHWH, everywhere they turned there were people worshipping YHWH in one way while being wholly unfaithful to Him in all the other areas of their lives. Imagine this for a moment, put yourself in this situation and look all around you, knowing what His Word says and what is righteous and good in His eyes and seeing so many brazenly worship other gods among His own people and chase after wickedness.
Now, let us revisit that verse because in it lies the way back. The Father has laid out (time and time and time again) a clear blueprint to follow Him:
2 Kings 17:13 …“Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
But they didn’t, so what was the result?
14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. 2 Kings 17:14-15
They became false? This brings to mind what Messiah said He will say to “many” who claim Him as their Lord in the end in Matthew 7:21-23.
2 Kings 17:34-41 is speaking directly to us. Sure, it was spoken to and applied to Israel but this timeless wisdom fits us just as closely as it did them.
34 To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the Lord, and they do not follow the statutes or the rules or the law or the commandment that the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36 but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. 37 And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, 38 and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, 39 but you shall fear the Lord your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” 40 However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner.
41 So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.
Our Father is a covenant keeper, but are we? Are we living according to the terms of the covenant He made with us? Are we in covenant with Him? Are we even seeking to be? Do we even know what those terms are?
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:31-33
Hebrews 8:8 For he finds fault with them* when he says:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people. Hebrews 8:8-10
*He did not find fault with His commandments, teachings, and statutes, but with those who would not keep them. That is key here.
If His laws are written on our hearts, would that not yield a fruit of wanting to be obedient? It is certainly worth considering.
Do you feel the darkness encroaching? Do you wonder how this is going to end? Do you find yourself holding your breath because you know, from the patterns of YHWH before and from what He says within His word, how bleak the future of these people truly is?
Now, with your mind there, let’s read a prophecy written during this timeframe from the prophet Isaiah. Maintain that mindset as you read this, desperate for a sign of hope and redemption….
Isaiah Sent to King Ahaz
7 In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. 2 When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.
3 And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 4 And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 7 thus says the Lord God:
“‘It shall not stand,
and it shall not come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And within sixty-five years
Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.’”
The Sign of Immanuel
10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:1-14
Okay, now read that last line again:
Therefore YHWH Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Immanuel.
It was at this time that our Messiah, although He has been foretold and referenced throughout our readings up until this point, but during this time of darkness, a Messiah is promised to the people, one greater than all who have come before Him.
And there you have it, in the middle of the darkness, a promise of hope. Can you imagine, a little more now, the strength of that hope that would arise among the people at this news?
YHWH has not forgotten His people. Immanuel means “God with us”. He has punished them, He has exiled them for their deeds, but He still intends to send a deliverer, as was the plan all along. He has not, will not, forget His people. He still loves them. The Messiah is coming.
And for our hope today, the Messiah is returning.
Return to me and I will return to you.
6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you”, says the YHWH. Malachi 3:6-7
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!