2 KINGS 13:1 – 15:38 and JOHN 11:45 – 12:11
2 Kings 13
We begin by seeing Jehoahaz, son of Jehu coming to the throne. He reigned for a period of 17 years and like the other kings before him was evil, following the sins of Jeroboam. This resulted in God delivering them into the hands of the Syrians for a number of years. In a scene reminiscent at the time of the Judges, Israel calls upon the Lord and delivers them due to the oppression of the Syrians. The deliverer happened to be the son of Jehoahaz who was Jehoash. In a scene reminiscent of the Judges the Israelites soon forgot their deliverance and reverted back to their ways. Jehoash came to the throne after the death of his father. It was in the 37th year of the reign of Joash, king of Judah. His reign lasted for 16 years and did according to the sins of Jeroboam. He later engaged in a war against Amaziah who was then King of Judah.
The scene now shifts to the prophet Elisha who is near death who is visited by Joash who weeps over him with the words “O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” These are the same words that Elisha said to Elijah as he was taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:12). This event took place a bit earlier after (Jehoash) Joash secured victory for Israel. Elisha, told the king to open a window, take a bow and arrow and to shoot the arrow eastward. Elisha placed his hand on the bow as he did so. We see that one of the reasons for victory was the assistance of the prophet Elisha. In spite of all the miracles and signs and wonders that God performed through Elisha it did not change their spiritual condition.
In one of Elisha’s final acts he helps to bring deliverance for Israel. He further instructed the king to smite the arrows on the ground, which the king did three times. Elisha was quite angry with the king because he could have smitten those arrows several more times. This was a unique moment and opportunity for Israel to prevail against their nemesis. It was the final recorded act of Elisha who was instrumental in holding the kingdom of Israel together at various times. Elisha had a double portion anointing upon him but it did not change the character of the kings or the nation. How could it, when you consider its origins under Jeroboam. The priests were base and illegitimate from the beginning. The ministry of Elijah and Elisha did help sustain Israel through various seasons but it did not result in change. One can only imagine what things would have been like if you had these kind of prophetic ministries under a governing priestly role, alongside the kings. The harmony of priest, prophet and king is what we long and need to see in our day. Jesus embodied all three of these attributes. We do see outstanding prophets like Elijah, Elisha and many others during the reign of the kings. We also have seen some very good kings such as David, Hezekiah and Josiah. The only priest of note would be Jehoiada who preserved Joash, king of Judah. What a priest he was! The key is seeing all of these godly men and ministries functioning and flowing simultaneously.
Elisha the prophet died and soon thereafter a man who had died was cast into the open grave of Elisha. The man came back to life which spoke of the extraordinary anointing that worked through Elisha. His bones provided the means of yet another miracle. This is exceptional power and it is a foretaste of what will be seen in the end. There will be a greater glory and a greater manifestation of the supernatural. This kind of power will need to be tempered by a capable priesthood of believers to ensure it is stewarded for the purposes of God.
2 Kings 14
The scene now shifts to Amaziah who is king of Judah. He comes to the throne during the 2nd year of Joash, King of Israel. The reign of Amaziah will be for a period of 29 years and he is noted as having a reign that was right in the sight of the Lord. He did not measure up to the reign of David due to not removing many of the high places. He executed the men who slew his father earlier but spared the lives of the children in accordance to a Mosaic Law (Deu 24:16). In verse 8 he sends messengers to Jehoash so that they can meet together. Amaziah, fresh off his victory over the Edomites refuses to listen to the words of Jehoash, which were spoken as a parable in verse 9. They go to war and Judah comes off the worse and flees from Jehoash and Israel. Jehoash came to Jerusalem with his prisoners which included Amaziah and his son Ahaziah. He also took gold and silver from the house of the Lord and soon returned to Samaria. They probably took key people to hold as ransom. They did not remain in Jerusalem probably figuring that they could not hold the city for long. They humiliated Amaziah and plundered their resources. This was a war that was not initiated by Jehoash and Israel. Amaziah dies 15 years after the death of Jehoash and his son Ahaziah comes to the throne at the age of 16 (vs 21).
In verse 23 we are introduced to Jeroboam who became king of Israel during the 15th year of King Amaziah. He reigns for a period of 41 years and once again like all the others before him he departs not from the sins of Jeroboam the first. In verse 25 there is mention of victories gained against enemies along the coast of Israel. He was instructed to do this through the prophet Jonah, who is the one who prophesied to Nineveh. There is no other recorded message given to Jeroboam by Jonah but he is one in the same. God used Jeroboam to restore cities previously taken due to the affliction that was upon them. God also remembered that He would not blot out Israel’s name from under heaven (vs 26-27). It was not due to Jeroboam’s righteousness, far from it; it was done in spite of his evil ways.
It would be good to pause and consider how God must have viewed the actions of the kings from both kingdoms. The sentiments of God are better seen through the study of the aligned prophets who spoke during the reigns of specific kings. The survey through the Books of First and Second Kings and the Chronicles is a more factual account of events. The respective personalities of the prophets help to express God’s heart and viewpoint. We will get better glimpses into Jeroboam a bit later on when we look at the prophet Amos. Let’s consider the opening verse to the Book of Amos:
Amo 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
The ministry of Amos was primarily to the northern kingdom. The message of the respective prophets will help to give greater insights as to the true picture of the kingdom as well as the king himself. The Word of God begins to come together when we can link the prophets to respective kings and time periods. There are several prophets who have ministries at the time of captivity, during the captivity as well as the Restoration period. The whole of God’s plan is woven beautifully together through His Word. It comes alive in greater measures when we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate its history while making applicable applications into our lives. I say all of this due to a study that I undertook on the Kings of Israel back in 1982. It was a 32 cassette tape teaching done by my pastor. I took notes and went through the messages with a hungry heart. It was this study that helped to spark a heightened interest and love for the study of God’s Word. It was here where the Word of God began to come together like the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle. I can look back over the past 35 years with a tremendous amount of thanksgiving and gratitude for God’s faithfulness.
2 Kings 15
Azariah now comes to the throne to succeed his father Amaziah. He reigned for a period of 52 years. Azariah came to the throne in the 27th year of Jeroboam of Israel. His rule was similar to that of his father in that he did things that were right before God. Still, he did not remove the high places throughout Judah which made allowance for idolatry amongst the people. In verse 5 it says that Ahaziah was smitten with leprosy. Ahaziah is named Uzziah in the Book of Chronicles (2 Chr 26:19). It was due to the king assuming the role of a priest in the temple. King Uzziah had a good reign up till the end. He became lifted up with pride which led him to assuming a priestly role. This account will be picked up later when we look at the Book of 2 Chronicles. King Jotham, son of Ahaziah comes to the throne after Ahaziah’s death (vs 7).
Switching back to the northern kingdom we are introduced to Zechariah who succeeds Jeroboam. Zechariah comes to the throne in the 38th year of Ahaziah’s reign. He is another king who did evil departing not from the sins of Jeroboam the first. He was slain by Shallum in a public setting. This fulfilled the Word of the Lord which came to Jehu in 2 Kings 10:30.
2Ki 10:30 And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.
Jehu had a line of 4 generations that served after him. They were Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam the second and Zechariah. The reign of Shallum lasted for a period of one month before being slain by Menahem. He was an extremely wicked king who reigned for a period of 10 years. He sought to align with Pul, King of Assyria. This act was nothing more than a stop-gap seeing that Assyria would later descend upon Israel in judgement.
We see a sequence of kings coming and going throughout the balance of chapter 15. In the northern kingdom we are witnessing the deterioration of its power and influence at a rapid pace. The duration of the lengths of the respective reign of the kings has shortened. The level of wickedness continued to grow, all stemming from the corrupt foundations of Jeroboam the first. In the southern kingdom we do see flashes of good kings and some exceptional kings that will yet come to the throne. They are clearly distinguishable from their counterparts in the north. The southern kingdom will outlast the northern kingdom by approximately 130 years. It needs to be noted that both kingdoms eventually experienced judgment; the northern kingdom to the Assyrians and the southern kingdom (Judah) to the Babylonians. In writing the above I cannot help but think of US politics. There is a distinction between the two main political parties. Though one party may be more upright than the other (likened to the southern kingdom being better than the northern kingdom) they both end up captive to foreign invaders. In other words we can say that the one more viable political party does do things that are right before God; attracting the majority of the Christianized vote. Still, the high places in many places are not removed; compromises are allowed while working under a so called spirit of bipartisanship which in the end will bring the nation under judgement. May God bring forth a leader who can spearhead a true revival. We will see such a king shortly who will help provide a roadmap to show the way.
JOHN 11:45 – 12:11
The pace of events is now about to quicken after the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This miracle is drawing an increasing interest in Jesus while threatening the role and influence of the religious class. The chief priests and Pharisees know that they are going to have to act quickly. If this were allowed to continue it would threaten the relationship the Jews had with the Romans. The tumult and uprising of people following Jesus would send a strong message to the Romans and Caesar. This is what was on the mind of Caiaphas who was the chief priest at the time. In fact, he makes a statement which is a prophecy concerning the role and mission of Christ.
Joh 11:50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
Jesus was one man who would die for the sins of the people; that whoever would believe on him would not perish but have eternal life. That was not the intent Caiaphas had in mind. He was saying that why should all of Jerusalem perish under Roman rule by allowing Jesus to continue doing His ministry. Their existence was threatened and the need to do something was at hand. In other words it was needful for Jesus to die so that the people would not perish under an increased Roman siege. In his mind this was the perfect rationale that could be used in disposing of Jesus. This would be their public selling point to the people even though it was for other reasons that they wanted to kill Him. This plan was readily acceptable by the others resulting in their taking counsel together.
It was at this time when Jesus decided to not walk openly amongst the Jews. The momentum has been taken up a notch and Jesus had to measure His steps carefully. There are times where we need not fear while walking openly amongst the enemies of God. If we are in the will of God and not seeking to function outside God’s boundaries we can experience His peace which will sustain us while yet being effective for the kingdom. There were numerous occasions where Jesus just walked through dangerous situations knowing that His time had not yet come. The enemy could not lay a hand on Him.
Now, Jesus realizes that his steps must be carefully measured. The word has now gone out that anyone who would know of the whereabouts of Jesus must come forward. This means that anyone associating with Jesus could also be put into jeopardy. The Lord understands that anyone who is seen with Him could now come under scrutiny. We have come to appreciate this truth as missionaries. There are times where we had to refrain from public ministry due to the attention that this would bring upon our local hosts. There were times when we were bold and at peace in conducting open meetings. There were also times when we felt the need to not do things openly; not for fear for ourselves but for those who lived in these places. We can leave the country but they would suffer under the consequences of our actions. We must seek for that sensitivity; to know when to be bold and to know when to work behind the scenes. Jesus did not conceal Himself from the Jews because of fear; He yet had a mission to fulfil and He had to do it in wisdom.
In John 12:1-8 we have one of the most illustrative truths concerning worship. There is a reunion of Martha, Mary and Lazarus who has since been raised from the dead. In verse 3 we see Mary taking a pound of ointment of spikenard and going about wiping the feet of Jesus. This was a most expensive commodity and it was all spent on this moment of worship of the King of Kings. Of course, nobody truly knew the significance of what this act represented at the time but it is a dynamic which presents many truths. Let us recall that it was the act of worship where iniquity first materialized. Lucifer, as an anointed cherub was instrumental in the leading of worship in heaven. Over the course of time an event happened which changed the order of the course of the known spiritual world at that time.
Eze 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
That iniquity (sin) was rooted in pride which eventually became part of man in the Garden of Eden. The spice of “spikenard” speaks of the fruit of peace. The peace of God is one of the prominent weapons against the devices of the enemy (Rom 16:20, Psa 37:35-37). That act of worship ignited something in Judas. He feigned interest in the poor and he made a big show about what could have been done with the money which had now gone wasted. To me this is another act of what it means to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). Mary’s act was that of a true worshipper. She saw Jesus as worthy of her very best and she openly demonstrated this.
The act of true worship sends many messages. First, it makes clear to God how we view Him. Many estimate the cost of what Mary provided as a year’s worth of wages. This open expression of worship also brought to the forefront the heart of those who do not have true worship within them. Lucifer exposed himself in the midst of the angelic choruses by receiving the booty of worship unto himself. The act of Mary’s worship ignited the heart of Judas by bringing alive that covetous nature. We later see that Lucifer (Satan) and Judas unite whereby the seeds of betrayal would be planted into the heart of Judas at the time of the last supper (John 13:2). May the act of worship that Mary performed upon Jesus inspire us to be likewise; that we see Jesus as worthy of our absolute very best. May we also allow this act of worship to flesh out and bring to the light untoward attitudes and issues that may hinder our love for God. The truths concerning worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth have an effect upon the heart.