Daily Bible Studies
Series Theme: Studies in 1 & 2 Kings
"The Kings of Israel" (The Northern Kingdom)
Chapter: 2 Kings 15
Passage: 2 Kings 15:8-22
A. Find Out:
1. How was Zechariah summarised? v.9
2. What happened to him and why? v.10,12
3. What happened to Shallum? v.13,14
4. What did Menahem do? v.16
5. How was Menahem summarised? v.18
6. What happened to him and what did he do? v.19,20
1. How were these 3 kings the same?
2. What sort of men were the latter two shown to be?
3. What was the effect of Assyria's presence?
The pace speeds up and it is not good news! Zechariah who succeeds his father, Jeroboam, is now the fourth generation from Jehu and the Lord had said that Jehu's descendant would sit on the throne to the fourth generation (2 Kings 10:30). Whether the Lord brought it about specifically or He simply knew how things would work out is not made clear. He had clearly blessed Jeroboam and that had largely been a reign with freedom from attack from Aram, but once Jeroboam dies it seems the blessing is removed. Within 6 months there is a palace coup and Zechariah is assassinated by Shallum. Shallum lasts only a month before Menahem comes from the north of the land (Tirzah) and attacks Samaria and kills him.
Perhaps it is that the Lord uses the sinfulness of an ungodly man (Shallum) to bring an end to an ungodly dynasty (from Jehu), but then brings judgement on the executioner (Shallum) through Menahem who seems an even more violent character. When the Lord puts pressure on him through Assyria, he simply puts pressure on the people. The result should be that the people cry out to the Lord – but they don't! It seems that the nation has sunk to an all time low and still they rely on their substitute religion with idols at Dan and Bethel and their substitute priesthood. This is far from the dynamic two-way relationship that the Lord had intended for His people. How tragic.
1. Be careful how you bring correction – see Gal 6:1.
2. We are answerable to the Lord. Take responsibility seriously.
Chapter: 2 Kings 15
Passage: 2 Kings 15:23-31
A. Find Out:
1. How was Pekahiah summarised? v.24
2. How long did he reign and what happened to him? v.23,25
3. How was Pekah summarised? v.28
4. Who came and did what? v.29
5. What long did Pekah reign and what happened to him? v.27,30
1. How does kingly succession here differ from the early days of Israel?
2. What was happening gradually to the northern kingdom?
3. Why do you think this was happening?
Zechariah, the fourth son down from Jehu, had been the last king of that dynasty to inherit the throne when his father died naturally. He was killed by Shallum who was killed by Menahem, who died naturally and was succeeded by his son Pekahiah but who is now killed by Pekah, who in turn is killed by Hoshea, who we will see will be the last king of the northern kingdom, Israel. In the earlier days the Lord was very much ‘with' Israel but with the increasing refusal of the kings of Israel to heed God's calls to them, it seems that the blessing and protection and restraint by the hand of the Lord was removed. It comes to a point now where virtually every king is assassinated, and the transfer of kingship is harsh and unstable. For the people of Israel this must have been a fearful and worrying time because of this.
To add to that, in this last reign the king of Assyria returns and is not content simply to take tribute, he takes land, and the northern kingdom is reduced to half it's original size. Does the latest king of Israel call out to the Lord? No! That seems something far in the past. They seem to have come to an ungodly place where the Lord seems to have little place in their lives. They are now far from the original called-out people who were holy and in direct relationship with the Lord. The Lord has given them opportunity after opportunity to turn back to him but those opportunities have been spurned. The end is near!
1. Do we recognise God's opportunities, calling us closer to Him?
2. Are we spurning opportunities to seek the Lord and know Him more?
Chapter: 2 Kings 17
Passage: 2 Kings 17:1-23
A. Find Out:
1. How was Hoshea summarised? v.2
2. Who did what to him and why? v.3,4
3. What did the king of Assyria then do? v.5,6
4. List the things Israel did wrong. v.7-17
5. What particular wrong had they followed? v.21,22
6. So what did the Lord do to them? v.6,7,18,23
1. How was this clearly the end of Israel?
2. How would you summarise Israel's sin?
3. Why do you think the Lord finally ended them as a nation?
This is a chapter of shame. There is a sense that every one of the kings of the northern kingdom had brought shame on Israel but this chapter summarises all that has gone on and declares the outcome. Israel's sin? It started with Jeroboam who produced a substitute religion to stop the faithful going back to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. The two idols and false priests opened the way up for the people to create their own idols to worship. They probably reason, well there are idols at Bethel and Dan to save us travelling all the way down to Jerusalem, I might as well have my own idol that saves me travelling to Bethel or Dan.
Very soon the presence of idols confused the people into wondering who they were worshipping and were soon following the practices of other nations and following false gods. Soon they were far from the faith of Abraham, no longer relating to the One True God, no longer caring about His Laws, His instructions for worship. The Lord had been pushed out of the hearts of the people of the northern kingdom. God was an irrelevancy! Despite His many times of speaking to them the people remained idol worshippers. They no longer represented Him and so for the sake of the world, the Lord removed them. They wanted to be the same as others, so He made them the same as others, by taking them and putting them in the lands of others. Israel no longer exists here.
1. Are we representatives of the Lord? True representatives?
2. Do people have a clear idea of the Lord because of me?
Additional Note : Sins of Israel : 2 Kings 17:7-17
Because these verses are full of condemnation of Israel and explain the reasons for the ending of the northern kingdom, the following table may highlight their failures:
This twenty-fold condemnation may be summarised as:
Verse 17 summarises their activities as setting their hearts to do evil.
This was not a once or twice failure but a setting of heart and attitude to do what was clearly wrong, all the more so because they were a people created and brought into being by God to be a special, holy people.
Chapter: 2 Kings 17
Passage: 2 Kings 17:24-31
A. Find Out:
1. Who came into the northern kingdom? v.24
2. What happened to them? v.25
3. How did the Assyrians try to overcome this? v.26-28
4. How didn't this work? v.29-33
5. How were they flying in the face of God's Law? v.34-39
6. So what continued to happen? v.40,41
1. How did the Lord show this was still HIS land?
2. How did the Assyrians understand this?
3. Yet how did the land never return to the Lord?
In this final study of the kings of Israel, kings of the northern kingdom, we observe what happened to the land of the northern kingdom after the people were dispersed into exile. As was often the habit of conquering nations of those days, they moved whole people groups around so that none of the conquered peoples remained in their own land. The idea that being dumped into a foreign land would mean that they would have to focus on survival and would not be able to rise up against their conquerors.
So, a new people are put into the land but this is God's land and so He doesn't tolerate another people just coming into it. He sent lions to make it quite an unsafe place. The word gets back to the Assyrians who recognise that there is a deity to be appeased. They thought of deities as local gods and so sent back an Israelite priest to school the people in the ways of this god. However, the people are so set in their idol worshipping ways that they simply add on worship to the Lord to the worship of their other idols. Our last view of the northern kingdom is that it is occupied by a people, just like Israel, who mix pagan worship with worship of the Lord – which is really no worship. What a said end for the land – for the time being! It will still be there in Jesus' day, but still not one with the rest of Israel.
1. You cannot worship God AND something else.
2. The Lord demands our entire allegiance.
RECAP - "The Last Kings" - 2 Kings 15-17
In this final group of 4 studies we have seen :
- Zechariah (2 Kings 15:8-12) assassinated by
- Shallum (2 Kings 15:13-15) assassinated by
- Menahem (2 Kings 16:16-22) who submitted to Assyria
- Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:23-26) assassinated by
- Pekah (2 Kings 15:27-31) assassinated by
- Hoshea (2 Kings 17:1-6) deported by the king of Assyria
- the sins of Israel for which the Lord deported them (2 Kings 17:7-23)
- Samaria being resettled by people from other lands. (2 Kings 17:24-41)
Again, to see the dates etc. of these kings CLICK HERE. This is a tragic picture of the outworking of sin and godlessness. Israel from its start as the northern kingdom sinned by creating a substitute religion and the result of that is that bit by bit the situation in Israel gets worse. Instead of the steady succession of son following father and having learnt from him, these foolish kings did not learn from the folly of the previous reign and so eventually degenerated into a “dog eat dog” situation where most of the kings were assassinated and the reign then taken over by the murderer. No wonder it only got worse and worse.
Also in the time we see the Lord using surrounding powerful nations to curtail Israel, but never did Israel turn to Him for help. A tragic time for what should have been a special people!
Pray for the state of your own land.
Rather than have a Summary page, you are invited to go again to the Statistics page of these studies where an overview is given of all the kings and what took place.
The following are the things that stand out:
As we come to the end of this set of studies, there is one thing that must surely stand out above all else – that of the ongoing godlessness of these kings of Israel. As we have already commented, every single one of them was condemned for the ongoing sin of Jeroboam – of setting up, sustaining and tolerating the counterfeit, substitute religion of the northern kingdom. This in itself led on to further idolatry. These people, originally at least, knew that they were a special, called-out people of God, the covenant people of God. One man led them away from that and no other king had the courage to take them back to it. At least with the kings of Judah there were kings who restored the people to their covenant relationship when they realised that they had strayed from it, but that was never so with Israel.
We might have expected to find the Lord coming to bring judgment much earlier than He did. How could He have tolerated these kings who, one after another, perpetuated this breakdown in relationship with the Lord? But it's far more than merely tolerating it! He actively spoke into it. Elijah and Elisha are arguably the greatest signs and wonders prophets of the Old Testament and they lived and ministered in a period that was possibly the worst in terms of organised idolatry.
Why did the Lord allow all this? Why did the Lord divide the kingdom knowing as He must, that these things would come about? The answer has got to be because although God knows that an outcome will be bad, He nevertheless gives mankind the opportunity to make good. It was purely the wilful choices of a series of kings that opened the doors to, and encouraged, idolatry. They could have called the people back to God. They knew in history of a godly king, David. They knew of a king, Solomon, who was blessed by God so that prosperity and affluence was greater in Israel than anywhere else in the land. They had heard the stories but refused to respond to them. But they had had the opportunity to change.
Israel, the northern kingdom, are an example of a people who have been shown the way, but are then put into circumstances where they have to CHOOSE to follow that way, despite the difficulties. Without Jerusalem, without the Temple, without the visible reminder of the presence of the Lord in their midst, they fall away. Such is the work of Sin. On the Statistics page we have noted the times when the Lord spoke through His prophets. Whether the Lord actually brought about some of the changes or opened the way for sinful men to naturally respond in their sin to bring them about is never clear. However what is clear is that the plan and purpose and will of God are worked out. He declares it and it does happen!
Whatever the kings were doing, one thing is clear: the Lord was there, speaking and moving and holding them accountable. It was never a case of the Lord sitting back and merely letting it all happen. These may have been ungodly kings, but that did not stop the Lord speaking to them and moving in their circumstances. Thus these chapters of history record some of the most remarkable moving of God in the history of Israel. Not, obviously so great as the Exodus, but clearly the sovereign will of God being worked out in the midst of ungodliness. Amazing!