2 Kings: The Fall of Israel and Judah
Open your Bibles if you would to Second Kings. Hopefully you have one of these handouts here. This is a book that you will want to take notes on. It covers about 400 years of history. And so there is a lot of detail. But I think overall, you will be able to see just the, the idea behind Second Kings here. We're continuing our study, through the books of the Bible. And so we've come to Second Kings. Praise God for His Word.
You know, we want to live according to the Word of God. Throughout Second Kings, you will see that phrase, if you just look through the passages there, there's quite a few chapters, and a lot of kings come and go, but what you're going to see is this phrase, “according to the Word of the Lord,” that is, according to the Word of Yahweh. Something might happen, an army might invade, but it was “according to the Word of the Lord.” Another time an army might invade, and it would be repelled, but it was “according to the Word of the Lord.” Likewise, you will see phrases like this, “according to the Word of the Lord, that Elijah spoke,” like you do in 2 Kings 1:17. Or “according to the word that Elisha spoke,” or “according to the word of the Man of God.”
I just want to kind of put this out there, because we talk a lot about, you know, the New Testament and the Scriptures and, and how to follow God's Word and how to root it deep in our hearts and to live it out. And we sometimes think that the Old Testament is different. But it's not. Praise God, it is still the same story of God, redeeming his people, putting his Word in their heart and being faithful to his Word. So, when you and I talk about living according to the Word of God, we're talking about following what God's people have done for thousands and thousands of years.
In addition, our following is from the heart. That too is all throughout the Old Testament. You're going to find in Second Kings, some kings who did not follow God, with their heart at all. Like King Jehu. That's in 2 Kings 10:31. In fact, right now in the history of Israel, in the 12 tribes of Israel, you've got one nation to the north, making up 10 tribes. And you got two to the south, around Jerusalem, making up two tribes there. The North is called Israel. And the South is called Judah. Most of the kings in Israel's history through this time period, rebelled against God. But there were some who were wholly faithful to God with their whole heart like Hezekiah, and even another one named Josiah, which we'll come to later.
And just think about this, we think about who our leaders are, we think about who's ruling over us. We call this in the Republic of the United States. But Josiah became king when he was just eight years old. Imagine that, any of the eight year olds that might still be in here, getting to command the army, and have brought before you a feast of food at any time you would like, all night long. Just ask for whatever you wish, some lamb, some steak, some more to drink. Just the snap of the fingers and you rule the whole country, that was Josiah, and yet he was one of the best kings. 2 Kings 22:2 says this of Josiah, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” The eight year old! So as you consider parents and those of you who may have grown kids, or if you don't even have children, consider the kids in the neighborhood, that God can work mightily through someone no matter their age, no matter how young or how old.
We see that this command is not new though, to walk in the ways of the Lord. That's what Moses commanded, right? Deuteronomy 5:32, You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” And that's exactly what was said of Josiah. So as we come upon this, what I would call a masterful account of about 400 years of history, know that it all boils down to this one thing. And it's a question that we have to ask ourselves as well, will we follow God with our whole heart? With our whole heart?
The context here is, unfortunately, the downfall of Israel and Judah. It's a continuation of First Kings. And First and Second Kings, as you know, was one book and it was split in two, just for convenience sake. But it covers about 900 BC to 586 BC. The start of it is a little bit more general. But the end of it is very specific, because we know exactly when the deportation to Babylon happened. Now, if you're trying to figure out where does this fit in everything, we're about 11 to 12 books into the Old Testament. And God is sending his prophets at rapid fire towards his people, the Israelites and the 12 tribes. He sends Elijah and Elisha, Amos and Hosea are in the northern kingdom as our Elijah, Elijah and Amos. While in the southern kingdom, you have Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk. All of these are prophesying, they're calling the people to respond. So we have an incredible amount of love and compassion being poured out, over and over and over again, on the people, from God.
We also have a lot of historical artifacts from this time period, that talk about the people that are mentioned in Second Kings. For instance, if you're in the British Museum, you could see what's called a stone pavement or paver that has a description and a picture of King Jehu, bowing before one of the Assyrian monarchs. You can see the picture of that online if you like. There's also what's called the Sennacherib Stone. You get bonus points if you can just pronounce that, Sennacherib. On there, it's like a prism if you will, it's a multisided stone, and it has an account of the military victories of this king. Yet it also shows at one point that they decided “to retreat,” in his words, while the Bible calls that being routed. And it parallels the account of his retreat to Nineveh found in Second Kings. So if you're a history buff, Second Kings is your friend. And if you're not a history buff, you need to know that this is your history. This is where we have come from.
As you can see in your outline there. Second Kings is really about the first 17 chapters, if you look at the overview, it's the Fall of Israel. And the last few chapters, 18 to 25, is really the Fall of Judah. So they're split in two. North of the Dead Sea is Israel, that’s around Samaria. And then below that, is Judah. That's the tribe of Judah and Benjamin. And that's really around the city of Jerusalem. So try and keep that in mind.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever lived in a nation that constantly went back and forth from following God and rejecting God? Maybe a nation that was even founded by people who wanted religious freedom. Whatever that religion looked like, we could debate. But they nonetheless wanted religious freedom. Traveled far and wide to get to a place where they could exercise this, this freedom. They would even fight to the death for their idea of what society should look like in their minds. Could you imagine living in such a place? Where is God and all this? Why do we have to travel across oceans just to worship. As you know, they don't always make good decisions. They have wars, even civil wars, over what society should look like and who should rule and what we should follow. And of course, now we spend literally millions of dollars in a single day on advertising for certain political agendas, thinking that is going to help society and right society. And then whatever the millions of dollars is spent on, the next day is overturned by a judge.
Does God care for his people in this this time? Because I think, you know, we can continue to pursue God in the United States, and I can still get up here and preach, and we can have people teach the Word of God, for now. But where is God when the nation rebels against its Creator? When they do things like, take the life of an unborn child every 90 seconds, just in the United States alone? Where is God in all this? Is he compassionate? And can we actually see the compassion of God in our lives, so much so that we know where we're headed, that we can follow God in our lives?
Well, even as they spend centuries, going back and forth. Think about that, about 400 years of history, right? Can you relate to that? About 400 years of God drawing them back, I think you're going to see an immense amount of compassion on the people, and not just on God's people, but on people in general. I think we missed that. We think God loves us, but maybe somewhere else outside these walls, he doesn't love others. That maybe he doesn't provide for them, that they're just on their own. Does not Scripture tell us that he calls people to himself? That the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and unrighteousness. Why? Not just so that they would be convicted but so that they might return. That they might repent and turn to God and be healed.
Second Kings is an amazing book. It has some of the most (how would you put it?), amazing miracles recorded in all of Scripture. Miracle after miracle after miracle, it picks up towards the end of Elijah's ministry, and then it launches into Elisha’s ministry. And we have famous prophets coming on the scene in Second Kings, like Isaiah. Look with me if you would, at 2 Kings 2:1. This is the end of Elijah's ministry and I want to go over this account because it just shows how incredible Elijah was to the people. Just even how he goes to heaven, is so amazing. “Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind [don't gloss over that], Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.”
And basically, Elijah is trying to get away from Elisha so that God can take him up to heaven and Elijah is constantly pursuing him. No, I'm not going to leave you no matter what happens. So look down in verse nine, Elijah realizes this and he says, okay, they have gone to city after city. Asnd 2 Kings 2:9 says, “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elijah, ‘Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.’” This is another just open ended, “What do you want? What can I give you?” This is coming from the guy who raised people from the dead. Right? This is coming from the guy who provided for people food, where there was no food. This is the guy who defeated the 450 prophets of Baal, on his own. Unprecedented. Okay, so when a guy like this says, “What shall I give you?” If somebody said that to you today, what would you ask for? Hopefully, it would be more than just a nice Mother's Day lunch. Right? Hopefully we have the big picture in mind, of God and his glory.
And Elisha says this, he really asks for the moon. He says [2 Kings 2:9], “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” A double portion of God's Spirit on me. What is that? Like you're raising the dead, I want to do something twice as great as that. You're feeding people out of thin air, I want to do something twice as great as that. God sends birds to feed you, I want to be able to bless people twice as much as that. Verse 10, Elijah's response, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” We hope Elijah doesn't get taken while he's sleeping, I guess. Verse 11, “And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”
Now, why is this important for us to know? Why do we need to know that chariots of fire came and took Elijah? Because it's this: God is willing to go to extraordinary lengths, to send extraordinary people, to us to give us his extraordinary Word. So that we will worship him. He wanted to impress upon Elisha, so much so, how wonderful Elijah was. And then he actually did give Elisha this double portion of his master’s spirit. See, the land is incredibly evil at this time. It's filled with pagan altars. All throughout the land, all around what you would probably picture in your mind is modern day Israel and north, all the way to the Sea of Galilee. That's about where these 12 tribes are spanning. There are pagan altars everywhere. And yet God sends these amazing prophets because he has compassion on his people.
And I wonder when sin abounds, in the midst of it all, do we remember the compassion of God? I don't know what's going on in your life, we can all see what's going on in the news, though, that is just a fraction of what is actually happening in the world. But do we quickly forget the compassion of God? That he has given us these great stories that are true with real people and real events so that we will follow him.
I want to encourage you, God still changes people. He might not carry you up to heaven in a whirlwind. Although some days you might feel like that'd be the best thing that could ever happen to you. Right? He might not send you to go do lots of miracles throughout the land. Although some people claim to do that. But he does still work in the hearts and lives of his people. Now, as you're thinking through Elijah and Elisha, you might ask yourself the question, I thought, Elijah was the main guy and Elisha was secondary. So if Elisha has a double portion of the spirit, shouldn't he be the most prominent? Well, God gets to choose who is prominent. But Elisha does do some incredible miracles. And you can think of them in this way. Elijah was sent to proclaim judgment on the people and to draw them back to God. Elisha, on the other hand, was sent to be among the people. Most of his miracles were done to individuals. They weren't done to the nation in general. Whereas Elijah on the other hand, most of his miracles were to the nation at large.
So you could almost consider Elisha, more pastoral, more shepherding, more are approachable. Elijah lives off outside of the city, where Elisha lived among the people. Turn to chapter four if you would. This is an amazing story here. Elisha is now in his ministry. And I just want to give you two examples of something from his ministry. Because in these miracles, we see the wonderful compassion of God.
The first is the Shunammite woman. And I'm not going to take you through verse by verse, we would be here for the next year going through Second Kings in that way. But the Shunammite woman was this very wealthy woman. She and her husband lived in a house and as Elisha show would go by on his normal ministry routes, ministering among the people. The Shunammite woman would call him in and say, “Why don't you come in, and we'll feed you.” So Elisha would stop by time after time, and they would feed him. Well, he came by so many times that they thought, “Why don't we build a room for him on the top of our house, and we'll put a bed there and a desk and a lamp?” And that might not sound like a lot. But I don't know how many of us just build rooms and furnish it for complete strangers to live in. That's not inexpensive. So during this time, though, Elisha is quite impressed by this woman. So he calls his servant and says, “Go and call the woman that she may stand before me.”
So the woman comes and stands before Elisha. And he says, “What shall I do for you? Shall I speak a word to the king on your behalf? Or shall I speak a word to the commander of the army.” And she responds, and she doesn't even ask for anything. She just says, “I live among my people.” In other words, I'm fine Elisha. So you don't really need to do anything. And so his servant Gehazi says, “Well, she has no son.” And so Elisha says, “Fine. Next year, you will embrace a son.” Now she's older at this point. And she has no son. And she says, “Do not lie to your servant.” But at this point, Elisha says, “next year, you're going to have a son,” and she does. The very next year, she has this miraculous birth of this baby, and we don't really know the name of the child. But she says, “you know, do not lie to me, Do not lie to me and tell me that I'm going to have a son, if I'm not gonna have a son.”
Well she does, and the child grows up. And as the child is out in the field with his father, probably a young child, somewhere around 5 to 10 years old, you know, as a small boy, the boy, his head starts hurting and the boy dies. So the Shunammite woman packs all of her stuff and goes to find Elisha. And Elisha says, “Is all well?” And she says, “All is well.” And then she clings to him, and says, “Did I not say do not lie to me? The boy is dead.” So Elisha says, “Take my staff,” to his servant, “place it on him and he'll be revived.” They place the staff on him, he's not revived, and she won't let Elisha go until he, himself, comes. Elisha has such compassion on this woman, that he goes and raises her son from the dead. There's no precedent really, except that Elijah did that. There's no precedent really that he would have such power, that he would be able to raise him from the dead.
But I think that just speaks to the fact that sometimes we think God is a God, just of the nation. That God is watching over everyone. And somehow he doesn't see me. Somehow he doesn't know what's going on in my life. I'm not important enough, or I'm not significant enough in God's world for God to actually do something miraculous. That my problems are significant for me, but God's too busy with the real things of the world to watch over me and to care for me. What do we see here? In this chapter 4? God gives this woman a baby boy, and then when he dies, he raises him from the dead. Imagine what stories this woman tells, to all who come by her house?
Even now, thousands of years later, we're recounting the story. And here's where I think maybe, okay, you say, “Dave, alright, I get that Elisha was kind and he helped this woman. And that was really amazing. It's actually so amazing. I can't comprehend it. But you know, she was one of them.” But is God, that compassionate on people who aren't his people? Does God ever do things like that for people who are against him? Well turn to chapter five in Second Kings. You see, I think one of the problems of today is that we like to hate people who don't know God. We are the ones who are supposed to bring the gospel to them. And yet we are the ones who have sometimes the most venom for those who don't know God. Are we not supposed to be the most compassionate people in the world? Right? We should be the greatest citizens the planet should ever know.
Well, we see God's compassion on Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria. Now Syria, if you're picturing the map, off to the north east of the Sea of Galilee would be Syria. And much further than that would be Assyria, around Nineveh. Yes, where the prophet Jonah was. So here we see this man, Naaman. And he is a great man. And it says Yahweh used him to bring great victories to Syria. Not one of the 12 tribes, to Syria. God used a commander there to bring victories to this pagan nation. So Naaman was in his house. And let me summarize this story for you. So they would normally go on raids. And so they came on array to the area of Samaria, just south and west of the Sea of Galilee. That's where Samaria was, that's where the northern 10 tribes were now. And that was now called, Israel. Okay. So they took a little Israelite girl on one of their raids, stole her, kidnapped her, and took her back. And she was now working for Naaman’s wife.
And this little girl said, “Would that Naaman,” and I'm paraphrasing here, “would that Naaman were in my country, for the prophet there would heal him of his leprosy.” Now you and I think of leprosy as these, you know, kind of big boils and white flakes and arms dropping off and your nose dropping off, but leprosy was just the name for any type of skin disease, you know, in that time period, so we didn't know exactly what kind of leprosy it was. But it was enough for him to be known by it. So get this, the king of Syria, remember who attacks Israel, sends the commander of his army, who attacks Israel, to Israel to be healed. I think the king of Syria had a lot of faith in the prophet of Israel. Do you see that? So Naaman goes, he takes with him chariots and horses, and he shows up at Elisha’s door with this great company. And guess what? Elisha doesn't even greet him. Elisha doesn't even come out of the house. He just sends a messenger out to him.
And so Elisah says, “Go and tell him to wash in the Jordan River seven times, and he'll be healed, and then send him on his way.” No big deal, right? Just, no big deal. We don't know of other accounts where people go and wash seven times, and then they get healed. But Elisha seems to think that's going to work. And of course, the commander of this army of Syria is very put off. He's a very proud leper. And as he's hearing these things, he just leaves. But then others compel him. This is a very gracious thing that has been offered to you. Will you not do that? And he's saying, “The river there, the Jordan River, is just dirty and aren't all our rivers much nicer?” And yet he concedes, and he goes and dips himself seven times, and guess what? God heals the commander of the army who attacks God's people. How does that fit into our political narrative today? Do you know anyone that attacks God's people, today? Do you know any leaders that attack God's people today? Not just here in the United States, but around the world? What is God's desire for people? It’s that they be saved so that they know him truly that they worship him. And yet, why should we hate those that God does miracles for? And yes, I know that God says that he hates sin. And he also says in the Old Testament that he hates the sinner. We like to separate those two.
But yet God in his mysterious ways, in his will, is so compassionate. I think so much more compassionate than we even give him credit for. Of course, the man comes back and tries to bless Elisha, but Elisha can't be bought nor does he even want to have any gifts given to him. And so Naaman says, “All right, well, at least please remember me. Let me take some loads of dirt back and offer sacrifices on them back in my country. And at least please think of me as I have to bow down in the temple of foreign gods back where I'm from.” Syria was not some kind of pseudo religious faithful group of people. Yahweh was not their God. Yahweh was not having lots of his people in Syria, but yet he still blessed them. Are we okay with that? Are we okay with God blessing people who don't deserve to be blessed? Can you think of some world leader that we would like to remove and not bless? Who is going to be praying for those leaders? Who's going to be praying for the people who need it the most? If it's not you and me, who? I think Naaman is an amazing example of God's compassion. But as I've already given away, Second Kings is not about the restoration of God's people. It is about the Fall of God's people. Turn with me to chapter 17. And here we see Israel's Fall and Assyrian captivity begin to take place.
Hoshea, king of Israel, did evil in the sight of the Lord and he reigned nine years. And he was tired of giving tribute to the king of Assyria. Okay, the whole region around Nineveh, much further away than Syria which bordered the northern 10 tribes. Look in 2 Kings 17:5-6. Because Hoshea withheld his tribute to the king, it says this, “Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.” Three years. “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” Why did this happen? If God is willing to bless foreign nations, who don't even attempt to worship him, why did this happen to his own people?
Well look in 2 Kings 17:7-8, it tells us why, “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 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.” Verse nine, “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.”
Israel rebelled against the grace and compassion of God. They sinned against God. They feared other gods. They literally feared other gods. They walked in pagan customs. That doesn't mean that they just simply wore the clothes of society or played the music of society. That's not what that means. That means they sacrificed children, like the pagan customs around them. When they walked in the pagan customs of the kings, that means that they worshipped pagan gods. Right, we have to remember as we look through Second Kings, that it's about worship of God. They rejected worshipping the true God and began to worship other gods. And on top of that, verse nine, if we ever think God doesn't see, says they did secret sins on top of everything they were doing in public, the whole nation, God's chosen people acting like this.
Listen, sometimes you and I can get discouraged because of what's going on in society. Right? I mean, we talk to each other about, well, I'm so discouraged. Well, what have you been doing? I've been watching the news nonstop. Well, of course, you're discouraged. Right? We talk about those things. But listen, if they don't listen to God, they're not going to listen to you. At times. They want whatever they want. And they don't want anyone to tell them otherwise. And when you bring the Word of Truth to their ears, because you love them enough to tell them the truth and give them the truth, and they reject you just remember that they rejected God's word. They rejected God's prophets, they rejected Jesus Christ, himself. And if they hated him, Jesus says in John, that they will hate you. So what sustains someone like that? All of these prophets are a testimony to being sustained under great pressure.
Right now, we have pastors who are pro-abortion. We have believers who are pro-abortion. Our nation is in a frenzy because perish the thought, we want children to live. Our nation. Right now. They say, “my body, my choice” as is if the baby wasn't another body. Even though if they die and they're pregnant, and someone murders the mom while they're pregnant, there's a double homicide. Should we let people drive drunk? It's their body, right? They should be able to do what they want. Should we even let people go where they want? Is that what we should do? Should we just let them follow you? Some of you work in very secure places. Should we just let anyone walk into those places and push whatever buttons they want? Because, well, it's their body. Should we just take down the walls of NORAD and show everybody how to launch the ICBMs? As I said earlier, every 90 seconds, another child is murdered. 90 seconds.
That was maybe about 10 seconds. It's uncomfortable. We are up in arms over this war that Russia is raising, and rightfully so. But there's only nine countries that commit more abortions per day than the United States. Do you know what two of those countries are? Russia and Ukraine. In 2020, it's estimated that 980,000 children were killed, through abortion, alone. And the biggest states? Well, one of the biggest states, California, doesn't even report their abortions. They're not required to. I think we need to remember that though our society might be a little more sanitized, then wars with swords and bows and constantly raiding each other in the spring, because that's what kings do. It doesn't mean that our society is any better. And we have to ask ourselves, in times like this, where's God? Where's his message to the world? Who's proclaiming it?
See, it's one thing for me to get up here and to preach on Sunday because I love you guys and you love me. And you tell me when I say something wrong. And sometimes I say the same. You put your arms around me and you say that was a great sermon. And sometimes I resist, and I just say thank you instead of you know, what was so good about it? And we're so kind to each other and so loving and that's one forum to preach in. Some of you are petrified to speak in front of five people, right?
But our witness is multiplied so much more throughout the week. Monday through Saturday, as you guys go about and you live in your neighborhoods. Will you take the message then? As you go about your day, not just to your children? Yes, you need to give the message to your children and love them dearly. And course correct, if that's not happening. But the neighbor's children, who's going to tell them? And the neighbor, you know, with seemingly everything going right until their lives fall apart and crumble before your eyes. Who's going to tell them the gospel, if not us? Who's going to go forward?
You see, look in 2 Kings 17:13-14. This is what God did. “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 then I sent to you by my servants, the prophets.’ But they would not listen, but they were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God.” Notice he didn't say you're doing good, buddy. You guys are doing super. This is your day, your finances are gonna turn around, all your relationships are gonna be wonderful. And you just need to pull that wonderful thing down from the Lord God right now because he loves you so much.
Isn't the worship of God, good enough? But they were stubborn. So the Fall of Israel, the northern 10, is complete. They got deported. Other people came and lived in their houses, in their towns. Other people came and took over their vineyards and their lands. And that's why later in the New Testament, which you're familiar with, they got so mixed with pagan religions and pagan people, they couldn't tell who was an Israelite and who wasn't. And so they just decided to go around Samaria altogether on their way north. This is when all that happens.
Yet there were kings, who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. And it is that this time that Isaiah the prophet comes on the scene. And as we'll see later, he does some really bizarre things to kind of get their attention, which we'll talk about in some future sermons. But Isaiah is sent among them, and he ministers during the time of Hezekiah. Look at 2 Kings 18:3. Hezekiah was a good king. It says, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. [Listen to this] And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it…” And they even named it. Right? From Moses’s time. They were worshipping the snake idol, the one they were supposed to look to and be healed from all the serpents that were sent among them, because they rebelled. They still have it, and they're even worshiping it. That was a long time before this.
But verse five [2 Kings 18:5] Hezekiah, “He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.” And it was just in time. Remember that Sennacherib Stone that I talked to you about before? Well, this is about to come on the people. It is good to turn to the Lord. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, not just Syria, but Assyria, sorry about that. King of Assyria comes against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. That’s 2 Kings 18:13. That's in the fourth year of the reign of King Hezekiah. So now remember, the North is gone. They're obliterated, they're gone, they're deported. So now the South is all that's left. This is what's around Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and to the west, almost to the coast. There's other nations all around them. But now they're surrounded by a king with an army large enough to surround the entire city.
Imagine all of Washington DC being surrounded by millions of soldiers. Then they mock God. His messengers in verse 30 to say, “and do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you saying, ‘the Lord will deliver us.’” They are trying to strike fear into the heart of Judah, in God's people. They're already surrounded. That's pretty fearful. Right? If we see a police car go by our house, we get scared, right? They're literally surrounded by people who want to take their lives. But guess what, Isaiah was not intimidated by anyone. Nor was he intimidated by foreign armies.
Look in 2 Kings 19:32-36. This is Isaiah proclaiming a judgment from God on the king of Assyria. “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh.” That's the part that he put on the Sennacherib Stone, that he left and went home. The rest of it is filled in for us. God saved Judah from destruction, for now.
The only problem was, other nations bigger and stronger, had their eyes on Judah. If they can repel such a huge army, there must be vast amounts of gold there. So in Second Kings chapter 20, we learned that Hezekiah though he followed God, he wasn't the sharpest tack in the box. Some escorts from Babylon came and said, “Hi, King Hezekiah, show us this great land of yours.” And in verse 13 of chapter 20, look what he does [2 Kings 20:13], “And Hezekiah welcomed them [i.e. the Babylonians], and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.”
Please come look at all the gold we have, O gigantic army. That's what Hezekiah did. Aren't we special? And the Babylonians agreed, yes, you do have a lot of gold. So Isaiah, prophesied against them. In verse 17 of chapter 20 [2 Kings 20:17], “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the LORD.” Hezekiah dies, his evil son Manasseh, takes over and he reigns in Judah for 55 years. 55 years of evil. Hezekiah got rid of everything. Well guess what Manasseh did? He put it all back. 2 Kings 21:3, he rebuilt the high places, he filled the land with evil. He even, listen to this, he even builds altars to foreign gods and puts them in the temple of the LORD.
He practices child sacrifice. I guess he was thankful his father didn't do that. But he practiced child sacrifice. And he put the idols of foreign gods all over the land. God had had enough. And you think when is it enough for God to bring full punishment on an entire nation? This is it. He gave them 400 and some years to turn around. Interesting timeframe. They did not.
King Nebuchadnezzar is going to come and wipe out Judah. It actually happens in three phases. We see one of those here. Look at 2 Kings 24:13. And I'm going to bring this to a close in the next 10 minutes. 2 Kings 24:13, “and [he] carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold.” King Nebuchadnezzar gave them a couple chances. He just took some of them the first time. But he was fed up at this point. Listen, he's got to march through Assyria to get to where he wants to conquer. Either that or you go south, around this vast 600 mile desert, okay? So no one stands in his way. And he is livid with the people of Judah, just two tribes left.
2 Kings 25:9, they burned all the houses, they overran the city. They burn the house of the Lord, and most of Jerusalem. Chapter 25 Verse 10, they tore down the walls of Jerusalem, not all of them, a large segment. They literally stripped it down to the ground. 2 Kings 25:21, they killed the leaders. 2 Kings 25:13-17, is where they exported all the gold, the silver, and bronze from the temple. There's nowhere left to worship. There's nowhere left to go. Where are we going to make our sacrifices? They've burned the temple. They've taken everything out of it. There's no way for us to follow what God has described and decreed. Then they deported everyone. That's sad. But before all this happened there was a good king, Josiah, the eight year old. Josiah’s reforms are talked about through chapters 23 and 22. You can see that on your outline there.
He started cleansing the whole land of all the pagan items. The Baal worship, the Asherah poles, the cult prostitutes, the high places over all the land, he removed. The worship of Moloch and remnants of it, he removed. The worship of the sun. They were worshipping the sun, the bright ball in the sky will save us. The chambers of Ahaz built into the temple, the altars of Manasseh built into the temple. Josiah says, “Get rid of all these things!” And you think, how long has God been patient? Josiah even tore down altars to foreign Gods that guess who made? King Solomon. King Solomon. Was there not one person with the will to follow God enough to say, “that's wrong”?
Josiah was. He was willing to say, “This is wrong,” and to put his life on the line to have it all removed. So he goes on and on throughout the nation, cleansing it. Now this was, centuries of evil. God refers back to when I brought you out of the land of Egypt. You've been evil since that day, right? And it goes back and forth about one out of every 10 Kings does something good. 2 Kings 23:25 says this, “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him.”
Why would the Lord allow Josiah to cleanse the whole land of all the altars, of all the pagan items in the temple, and then still bring about this judgment on the people? Why would God do that? When everything is cleansed, the land is clean. Or shall I say, when we put prayer back in the schools? Or when we all just teach Christian things? Is that really what God's looking for? Or when we just have people who claim to be Christians, who are in power? We've already got that? Is that what God is looking for? Why would he allow the land to be cleansed? Because he's not really concerned ultimately with the land. He's concerned with what it says right there in verse 25. He is concerned with the heart.
We could set everything right in this country, and every country on the globe. We could maybe build a giant statue of Jesus and tower it on a mountain overtop of everyone. Would that be helpful? Right, South America, would that be helpful? Does that please God? To make an idol of Jesus, so big everyone has to see it? He cares about you and your heart. And I want to ask you, where is your heart today? God promised to put a man on the throne of David forever, did he not?
The last five verses of Second Kings in chapter 25 shows how that happens. Halfway through the 70 year deportation, one of the kings of Judah, Jehoiachin, was freed. The new king of Babylon gave him freedom from prison, spoke kindly to him, gave him a seat above the other kings who are with him. Gave him new clothes. And every day it says in verse 29, he dined regularly at the Kings table. God was and is, and will be in control. Amen?
You see, they would eventually be freed and return. The prophet Jeremiah said so in Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” As we read through Second Kings, and as I finish up here, we need to keep this phrase in our mind, “according to the Word of the Lord.” We must be most concerned with our own heart before God. Whether there are 5,000 people here or 5, whether the whole city prays to God, as some of the leaders in Purcellville did this last week, or whether no one prays to God at all, ever.
What will you and I do? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Jesus said those words himself, he summarized it all for us. Let it be said about us, what was said of the good kings, “that he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. And he walked in the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” Let's pray.
Father God, you have given us such a wonderful gift in your Son. You've given us such a wonderful gift in your Word.
Lord, help us to follow you, to reach out to those who rebel, and to love them Lord God, and to leave the judgment up to you. Father, I pray that you would turn our hearts to you. This people here at Grace Bible Church, love you. They want to know you and they want to pursue you, as I do.
And I pray Lord God that you would bring that about today. You'd help us to put off any thing that we have kept hidden, for nothing is hidden from your eyes. We pray Lord God that you would reveal to us the things that we need to give up to you, that you might live fully through us.
Now, friends, let's just pray to God and ask him for the courage to live for him.
Lord God, we are here for you. We thank you for your gracious preservation of this country, of this land, that we might worship you freely and openly now. Pray that you'd help us to take full advantage of that, Lord God, for your name and your glory. Amen.
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