PART TWO ‘C’ – To Conclude
Struggles of Israel Meditations: 22. Review
Isa 4:2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
The Big View: We have worked our way, OK rather laboriously, through all the kings of Israel, examining their spiritual outlook and the struggles they went through both spiritually and physically in struggles with their neighbours, but as we come to do a review of what we have seen I want to remind us that we have been reading the inspired, God-breathed, word of God. Some of it – indeed much of it – has not been very inspirational but nevertheless it is there to teach us, give us knowledge to help bring about understanding and hopefully wisdom, if we will but learn from it. I have included above a brief reference from Isaiah as a reminder to us that the long-term outcome for Israel is not determined by their bumbling activities but by the will of God which has always been for them – and for us – good. His end goal is always blessing.
Observations: As we have gone through the chapters of 1 & 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, I find various things stand out:
- Both kingdoms succumbed to terminal judgments:
- The northern kingdom with the fall of Samaria in 722BC (a 208 year life)
- The southern kingdom with the fall of Jerusalem and start of Exile occurred in 587BC (a 343 year life)
after the breakup of the kingdom after Solomon about 930BC
- The difference in ‘constancy’:
- the northern kingdom was constantly in a state of idol worship and none of the kings appeared spiritual or sought to change the spiritual state of the nation.
- the southern kingdom varied immensely.
- Some kings were no better than the kings of the north
- Some kings were good throughout
- Some kings were good as long as they had a good mentor
- Some kings were mostly good but failed later in life, either by drifting away from God of falling to pride.
- The lengths of reigns
The lengths of reigns in both kingdoms appear to have NO correlation to the spiritual state of the land or the spiritual state of the king.
Some Conclusions: These similarities and differences suggest the following to me:
a) There is nothing ‘mechanical’ about the way God works.
- We cannot say only ‘good kings’ would flourish because a number of ‘bad kings’ had long reigns.
- Without further revelation we cannot say why this happened – was God giving some of them extra time to repent because they were on the edge of that, even though it never happened?
b) Nevertheless there are some obvious consequences
- Bad kings often suffered invasion and/or assassinations.
- Good kings often became secure under God’s blessings.
- Although we cannot guarantee these things, there are definite trends.
c) Good kings rarely made it to the end unblemished
- There are only a few who appear unblemished, if we may put it like that.
- As we’ve noted, a number started well but didn’t continue like that.
- We should add that two bad kings actually repented and were preserved for it.
d) Consequences are Part of God’s Design
- We have observed a number of times that actions have consequences; what we say and do always has consequences, good or bad.
- Some of those consequences seem ‘natural’, i.e. they naturally flow out of the behaviour, while some are clearly brought by God, either blessings or curses in the form of discipline.
- ‘Discipline’ at a national level, say in respect of Israel, appears to come only when the nation had turned away from God and mostly comes in the form of invasion by neighbours who oppress Israel until they come to their senses.
- Repentance – seen as the nation cry out to God – is immediately followed by God’s activity, often in the form of prophetic calling and empowering of the Spirit to enable an individual to rise up as saviour-deliverer of the nation.
- The fact of the complete removal of the northern kingdom and the Exile for the southern kingdom shows that although God’s grace seems incredibly elastic, it will not be stretched indefinitely and so more severe consequences follow.
e) God works with Imperfect People
- The fact of God calling into being and using Israel is the classic example of this, a people who constantly found fault with Him, grumbled and complained and constantly (at least in the long-term) turned away from Him.
- The vast majority of the kings (all of those in the north!) did not live up to the potential God offered them and, indeed, failed to remain faithful to the end of their lives. Nevertheless God allowed them to reign in His name in His nation.
And So? And so we appear to come to the end as we have come to the Exile and subsequent restoration but for the big picture of Israel and its struggles that isn’t the end, so we will pick this up in the next and final study. Meanwhile, for us, can we look back over these observations and conclusions and learn from them? Will we indeed let Scripture teach, rebuke, correct and train us as Paul said, even such a large and varied part as these historical books that we have been considering?