The good news is that Kings does teach that the Lord, Yahweh, is in charge of all things.
1 Kings 13:1-6 ESV
And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. 2 And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord:‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you. ’” 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign that the Lord has spoken:‘Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out. ’” 4 And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Seize him.” And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. 5 The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. 6 And the king said to the man of God, “Entreat now the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” And the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as it was before.
In our series about the Story of God, we are at the book of Kings. Like Samuel, Kings was originally one book and it should be read that way. In Kings, God tells us about the kings who ruled over his old covenant people Israel from the end of David’s reign to the exile in Babylon. The events and moods in Kings fluctuate wildly: between darkness and light, joy and sorrow, triumph and tragedy. By the end of the book, every reader should realize that only if the Lord God is sovereign over his story of salvation is there any hope for its promises to be kept. The good news is that Kings does teach that the Lord, Yahweh, is in charge of all things.
Important ideas in Kings:
- The importance of true worship of the Lord – Since the Lord is in charge of everything, he must be worshiped and approached in his way. Read and mark worship matters in Kings. It is talked about a lot.
- The example of two kings: David and Jeroboam I – the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah are compared with David, and the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel with Jeroboam I.
- Sin and its tragic consequences – the words of Solomon (1 Ki 8:46) virtually set the stage for the rest of the book. It is a vivid portrayal of how desperately people need a sinless Savior who can save his people from their sins (Mt 1:21).
- The significance of women in the story: Bathsheba, the Queen of Sheba, Solomon’s wives, the queens of Israel and Judah, the widow of Zarephath, the Shunammite woman, Jehosheba, and we cannot neglect to mention the two arch-villains, Jezebel and Athaliah.
- Salvation to the nations – Kings displays God’s mission to bring a people to himself from all nations. The Queen of Sheba comes to hear the wisdom of Solomon, Elijah is sent to help the widow of Zarephath, and Naaman is healed of leprosy and comes to know God
- The reality of resurrection (1 Ki 17:17-24; 2 Ki 4:18-37; 13:20-21) – In the Bible, we read of historical accounts of resurrection in Kings and the Four Gospels and Acts.
- The reliability of God’s word – The Lord keeps his covenant promise to David; the word of the Lord through the prophets is fulfilled. There are times when it appears that house or dynasty of King David will end. First there is the opening plot against Solomon. Years later, Ahaziah was killed by Jehu king of Israel, and when Ahaziah’s mother, Athaliah, heard of it, she tried to kill the whole royal family of Judah, and only one year old Joash escaped. And later, Hezekiah became gravely ill and was told that he would die, and he was without a male heir. It seemed that the line of Christ would end. But God restored Hezekiah! God’s word never fails.
The structure of Kings:
- The rise and fall of Solomon (1 Ki 1:1-11:43)
- The division of the kingdom (1 Ki 12:1-16:34)
- The days of Elijah and Elisha (1 Ki 17:1-2 Ki 13:25)
- The decline and fall of the kingdom of Israel (2 Ki 14:1-17:41)
- The decline and fall of the kingdom of Judah (2 Ki 18:1-25:30)
I. God is sovereign through Solomon’s good start and bad ending (1 Ki 1:1-11:8)
A.At first Solomon seemed to do no wrong.
1.He followed his father’s good advice, administered justice in Israel, and sought the Lord. David pointed Solomon toward God’s word to direct his life (1 Ki 2:1-4), and Solomon recognized that this was the way of wisdom. We should ask ourselves, “How did Solomon move from writing Prov 3:5-6 to what we read of him in 1 Ki 11:1-8?”
2.He built the temple, which was a massive project. It seemed that as long as Solomon was hard at work he did well. Here was a man using his wisdom to bring glory to God and to act for the good of others. In a great prayer he highlighted God’s purposes for the temple (1 Ki 8:22-53).
B.But somewhere along the way, Solomon began to stray from the Lord and his holy word.
1.He broke God’s instruction about the kingship (Deut 17:14-20). It is true that Solomon’s wealth came from the Lord. But what Solomon did with it was his responsibility. People who live in the affluent West ought to take the account of Solomon very seriously.
2.He fell into idolatry, as God had warned against in the Law (1 Ki 11:1-8). This brought God’s rod of discipline upon him, as the Lord had told David (2 Sm 7:14).
Point: The sovereign God is able to exalt people and to bring them down (cf. 1 Pt 5:6).
II. God is sovereign through the division of the kingdom.
A.God divided the kingdom because of Solomon’s sin.
1.Solomon had disobeyed the way of life of two covenants: the law and the Davidic. God became angry and judged Solomon and his people.
2.The judgment came as God raised up adversaries and through two men who both became kings after him. Solomon’s son Rehoboam acted arrogantly and foolishly. Jeroboam I was filled with unbelief in God’s word and pride. With two such men as leaders, lasting division was the certain result.
Apply: Every reader of Kings should understand that collapse of Israel wasn’t God’s failure, but the failure of its leaders and people to walk in the ways of the Lord.
B.Jeroboam I set up a false religion (1 Ki 12:25-33).
1.The source of his evil action was unbelief in God’s promise to him (1 Ki 11:37-39) coupled with his senseless paranoid fear (1 Ki 12:26-27).
2.He invented a religion that looked like the worship of Yahweh, but was actually idolatry. Everything was intended to mirror what the people were used to, making it easier to accept. Substitute religion is one of Satan’s most clever ways to lure people to destruction.
C.God condemned Jeroboam’s false religion (1 Ki 13)
1.He sent a prophet to announce its end. The announcement included the exact prophecy of how it would happen and the later king, Josiah, who would do it (13:1-6).
2.God disciplined the prophet who disobeyed God’s instructions about how he was to act (13:7-34).
Point: We must do God’s work in God’s way.
Transition: The years pass with only one good king, Asa in Judah, until God acts in a new and dramatic way in his story. The Lord was acting according to his covenant promises and threats. He was still in control, and showed it by acting among his covenant people.
III. God shows his sovereign power in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha.
A.Elijah’s dramatic ministry (1 Ki 17-2 Ki 2:12) – God uses Elijah to show that he is sovereign in the following ways:
1.God controls the weather, either withholding rain or sending it (17:1; 18:41-46).
2.God can provide food for his people (17:4-16; 19:5-8)
3.God used Elijah to raise the dead (17:17-24)
4.God can send fire from heaven to show his reality against false gods or to judge his enemies (18:36-39).
5.God rules over his prophets, telling them what to do and supplying their needs (19:9-21).
6.God rules over the nations, overthrowing people that rebel against him (20:1-30; 22:-40).
7.God rules over natural forces, like rivers (2:1-8).
8.God can take people out of this world alive (2:9-11).
B.Elisha’s calmer ministry – God uses Elisha in many of the same ways, but with a manner that is less confrontational, though Elisha did confront people for sin when necessary. The Lord uses servants with various gifts and personalities.
1.God enabled Elisha to cross the Jordan like Elijah did (2 Ki 2:13-14).
2.God used Elisha to make land productive (2:19-22).
3.God defended Elisha from mockery (2:23-25).
4.God protected Elisha and people with him (3:1-27; 6:8-23; 13:14-19).
5.God worked through Elisha to provide people with food and financial resources (4:1-7; 38-44; 6:24-7:20).
6.God used Elisha to raise the dead (4:8-37; 13:20-21).
7.God directed Elisha about how to cure Naaman of leprosy (5:1-19).
8.God enabled Elisha to help a poor prophet (6:1-7).
Point: The Lord is able to act through his servants. This provides hope for us as we serve him, even when in desperate situations.
IV. God is sovereign during the decline and fall of the two kingdoms
A.The decline and fall of Israel
1.For a time during the latter part of Elisha’s ministry through the reign of Jeroboam II, Israel experienced a political, military, and economic recovery. The future seemed brighter, but the spiritual core was rotten with false religion. But after the Lord used Jeroboam II to preserve Israel for a while, a succession of rulers led up to its collapse in the reign of Hoshea.
2.The writer of Kings provides a summary of the evil that Israel was deeply involved in (2 Ki 17:7-18; 18:12). For all this sin, the Lord sent them into exile in Assyria (2 Ki 17:18-23). The king of Assyria repopulated the northern part of the land with other people groups, who worshipped false gods along with the worship of the Lord.
B.The decline and fall of Judah
1.From the time of Elijah and Elisha, Judah was ruled by a mixture of good kings who served the Lord with various degrees of faithfulness and bad kings who did not believe the true God but worshipped idols. At the time of the exile of Israel, Assyria also tried to conquer Judah. But the sovereign Lord had a good king, Hezekiah (2 Ki 18:5), as leader of Judah. He sought the Lord, and the Lord rescued them from the supposed invincibility of Assyria.
2.But Hezekiah’s son and grandson did much evil, and Judah became very corrupt in their religion. In fulfillment of the Lord’s sovereign word, Josiah became king, led a revival based on the law covenant, and destroyed the false religion that Jeroboam I had invented. However, after Josiah’s death, a succession of evil kings follows. Finally, the Lord sent Judah into exile in Babylon.
3.However, God remembered his covenant promise to David. Kings ends with a glimmer of hope. Jehoiachin is released from prison and receives some measure of honor from the emperor of Babylon. David’s line did not end! The hope of the Messiah was still alive. Matthew traces David’s line through Jehoiachin, who was also called Jeconiah, to Jesus the Messiah (Mt 1:1-17).
Point: The Lord’s word doesn’t fail about Christ, even in the most hopeless situations.
Apply: In all this, we learn that the Lord God rules over everything and everyone. God can make a way when there seems to be no way. It is our responsibility to live by faith in Jesus Christ. Do you have faith in Christ?
Ideas to transform our lives:
- The sovereign God is able to exalt people and to bring them down
- We must do God’s work in God’s way
- The Lord is able to act through his servants
- The Lord’s word about Christ doesn’t fail, even in the most hopeless situations
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.