2 Kings 24-25 – You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

“You can run, but you can’t hide!” This statement refers to the idea that eventually justice will be served and payment will be required for wrongs done.

We’re taught this, but we act as if it’s not true. There’s something that tempts us to do what we want now and act as if there will be no consequences in the future. Then, when the consequences finally come, we are left with sorrowful regrets and “if only’s.”

This is the flavor of the final two chapters of 2 Kings. After His people repeatedly disregard His warnings and do what they wanted to do, God can no longer patiently and mercifully hold back the consequences of their actions. Those consequences finally catch up with them. And it’s heartbreaking.

  • The temple is ransacked and looted.
  • All but the poor are taken prisoner and deported.
  • The king runs in fear but is captured and forced to watch his sons be killed.
  • Then, the king’s eyes are gouged out and he is carried away as a prisoner.

The book of 2 Kings ends in dismal despair and hopelessness.

But, what’s the point?! Why end a book this way?

Here’s the point. God’s people wrongly assume their relationship with Him will lead Him to overlook their disobedience and rebellion. They think His love will lessen His discipline. But it doesn’t. God’s love may postpone His discipline, but it doesn’t prevent His discipline. (Hebrews 12:6)

Numbers 32:23 says that we can be sure our sin will find us and reveal us. Galatians 6:7 says that we can’t ignore God and get away with it.

So when you choose your present actions, keep the long-term consequences in mind. Be faithful in the present so you won’t have to be fearful in the future. Because…we can run, but we can’t hide.

2 Kings 22-23 – The Heart of a Musician

When I was 9 years old, my parents got me and my brother guitars. We both took lessons, learned how to hold them, strum them, and even play some beginner-type songs.

But for my brother, it always seemed stiff, forced, and a little awkward. While for me, I just got it! I internalized it. I became devoted to spending more time learning and practicing. It became a part of me.

It’s the same with God. Some people connect with Him, while others just learn about Him. Some spend time with Him; practicing His principles until they become an internalized way of life. Others learn the routines and procedures, but God never becomes a natural part of their life. Consequently, they drop God, or they pull Him out occasionally…like the one song they know how to play in front of others.

In 2 Kings chapters 22-23, Josiah passionately desires to follow God and puts his whole self into doing it. He didn’t want to tinker with “music.” He had the heart of a “musician.”

Any musician knows that for the music to come “alive,’ you must completely commit to it. This is Josiah.

  • His heart breaks when he realizes Judah is not what they should be. (2 Kings 22:11, 13)
  • He commits to Judah becoming what God has called them to be. (2 Kings 23:3)
  • He diligently changes things and practices life as God intended. (2 Kings 23:4-20)
  • He turned to God with his heart, soul, and strength. (2 Kings 23:25)

Are you playing at knowing God? Are you satisfied knowing and doing just enough to technically say you have a connection with Him? Or are you yearning for and committed to the Living God, so that He becomes a part of you…like the music that wells up from within the musician?

2 Kings 21 – “That’s Enough!”

When you were young, did you ever push your parent’s so far that they finally said these words…”That’s enough!” If you ever heard those words from your parents, you knew you had pushed them too far. Their patience had reached its limit. In fact, you had taken it a click or two past the limit. Now there would be consequences that would be unavoidable and non-negotiable.

Welcome to 2 Kings chapter 21. That is exactly what’s happening in this chapter. Hezekiah had been a good king over Judah. He trusted the Lord, was faithful to the Lord in everything he did and was described as a good king of whom there would never be another like him. (2 Kings 18:3-7)

But his son Manasseh was just the opposite. Manasseh ranked right up there with Ahab (the king of Israel) as being one of the worst kings ever. Not only did Manasseh worship pagan deities, he…

Manasseh was more wicked than the kings whom God drove out of the land before him. (2 Kings 21:11) And God said, “That’s enough!” (2 Kings 21:12-15)

In light of all the God has done for us as individuals, as families, and as a nation…it makes you wonder just how close are we to hearing God say, “That’s enough!”

2 Kings 18-20 – Are You Hoping to Catch a Break?

“Some people get all the breaks!” Ever felt that way?

King Hezekiah is one of those people for whom everything just seems to works out. But there’s a reason for that.

2 Kings chapter 18 tells us that King Hezekiah was living a life of faithful obedience before he faced his difficulties. He didn’t wait for things to get bad to be faithful. He was faithful before the bad times. And 2 Kings chapter 19 tells us Hezekiah didn’t scramble to fix things himself when things were bad, but instead prayerfully turned to God and trusted Him for the outcome.

Now, he was not perfect. In the middle of 2 Kings chapter 18, Hezekiah tries to pay off the Assyrian king rather than trust God. But, once the Assyrian king goes back on his agreement, Hezekiah realizes God is the only person whom he can truly trust.

And towards the end of 2 Kings chapter 19, Hezekiah believes God enough to wait for Him to act on His promises. When impending disaster is breathing down his neck, he doesn’t just say he believes God, he sits on his hands and waits for God to do something.

Hezekiah was not someone who “caught all the breaks.” He was someone who was…

  • Faithful to God long before he needed the break.
  • Fervently prayerful when he needed a break.
  • Fearlessly willing to wait on God until the break came…despite the fear and pressure it might not.

And Hezekiah lived out those principles of faith, prayer, and trusting even when he became ill and close to death. (2 Kings chapter 20)

Compared to Hezekiah, how are you doing? Are you faithful before the problem arises, prayerful in the midst of the problem, and trusting to the end of the problem? Or are you just hoping to catch a break?

2 Kings 17 – If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done…

There’s an old saying that goes something like this…”If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Yet, so many of us continue to do what we’ve always done and wonder why we’re not getting different results. We put off studying for an exam, and then get upset because we got a poor grade. We keep to ourselves, and then wonders why they don’t have friends. We put off taking care of little things around the house then gets discouraged that our house is in the condition it’s in. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

This point is driven home in 2 Kings chapter 17. There, the unthinkable happens. Israel is defeated and taken over by the Assyrians, leaving them completely demoralized and discouraged. But, they were God’s chosen people. God Himself had led them out of Egyptian slavery with miracles the likes of which the world had never seen. How could this have happened?!

The answer is found in nearly every sentence of 2 Kings chapter 17. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave them a new way to live. But they continued to do what everyone else had aways done. Consequently, they got the same results everyone else had gotten. (2 Kings 17:8) Though they were aware of a different way, they chose to keep doing what they had been doing; believing that some how it would yield different results. But it didn’t, and it doesn’t.

We’re all prone to do what we’ve always done. But God doesn’t call us to live life on autopilot. He calls us to make clear and intentional choices about how we will live. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) We cannot be who we want to be, nor can we be where we want to be, if we continue to do what we’ve always done.

2 Kings 16 – Chasing the Next New Thing

America is a nation of great prosperity. Compared to the majority of the world, the poorest of us would be considered well off.  Yet, we still listen to advertisers who convince us we need something new or different. We take their bait, not because what we have doesn’t work, but because what we have isn’t new.

You see this with king Ahaz, in 2 Kings chapter 16. When his kingdom is threatened by the kings of Israel and Aram, Ahaz doesn’t turn to the One who drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea, or brought down the walls of Jericho, or drove out the people from the Promised Land. Instead, Ahaz turns to the newest superpower on the world stage…Assyria.

When Ahaz visits the King of Assyria, he sees the alter that the king uses for pagan sacrifices. And like a guy in a new car showroom, Ahaz has to have this new and different alter; despite the fact that the alter in Judah was the original alter. It was designed by God Himself and constructed with the oversight of Moses. But Ahaz wanted something new and different.

How quickly we can turn from God to something “new.”

  • The latest Christian teacher or self-improvement guru.
  • The latest quiet-time or Bible study technique.
  • The latest way of doing church, or the latest wave in worship styles.

We’re all prone to pursue something new and lose our focus and reliance on the One who has been faithful all along. We chase after the latest change and forget the One who never changes. (Malachi 3:6)

We must stay true to the One who has been true to us. We should hold onto what He has clearly and specifically told us to do, and not veer to the right or the left, chasing the next new thing. (Deut. 5:32)

2 Kings 14-15 – The Future Impact of Current Choices

Global warming. It’s one of the hot topics today…if you’ll excuse the pun. Scientists tell us that past decisions to satisfy our growing hunger for more (more products, more comfort, more convenience, etc.) are now having destructive consequences on the current state and health of our environment.

Just as decisions in the past can affect current conditions environmentally, past decisions can affect current conditions spiritually.

That’s the message we hear over and over again in 2 Kings chapters 14 and 15. Time and time again, we hear phrases like, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father did.” At times, the Scripture connects the behaviors of the current king of Israel all the way back to the idolatry of the first king of Israel…Jeroboam. And this pattern is repeated so often in chapters 14 and 15 that you get tired of reading it.

I believe the Scripture is trying to drill home the idea that the choices we make now have a lasting impact in the years to come. Our decisions now will reverberate down through the generations. (Ex. 20:5) Our current choices and actions are key to the spiritual climate of the future. My words and actions impact my children; which has an impact on their interactions with their friends, their spouses, and their children.

Whether or not you believe in the reality of global warming, you can believe that your current decisions and actions will impact your future spiritual climate. That is the clear message God gives us in 2 Kings chapters 14 and 15.

2 Kings 13 – Is God Too Nice?

Have you ever watched someone be taken advantage of over and over again, and thought, “Why do they put up with that? They’re too nice.”

These thoughts come to mind when reading 2 Kings chapter 13. There you find the king of Israel (Jehoahaz) committing adultery and doing what is evil in Gond’s sight. But, when the king and the people suffer the consequences of being harassed and defeated by Aram, King Jehoahaz prays to God and God rescues him and his people. (2 Kings 13:5) Then, in the very next verse, they go back to sinning and committing adultery!

Then, when king Jehoahaz dies, his son (Jehoash) takes over and he too does what is evil in God’s sight; refusing to give up adultery. Over and over again, the Israelites are overrun by the Arameans. So, Jehoash goes to the ailing prophet (Elisha) and cries out in distress. And once again, God grants Israel success over the Arameans.

Why does God keep responding positively to people who keep disobeying Him and ignoring Him? In 2 Peter chapter 3, Peter says the reason God has not brought judgement already is that He’s being loving and patient. He’s giving everyone every opportunity to repent. His lack of exacting judgement is not a lack of justice. It’s a postponing of justice in hopes that people will respond to His love, grace, and mercy…rather than experiencing His judgement.

Where in our lives has God been patient and gracious with us when our actions and attitudes warranted more harsh treatment? Where have we gone our own way, then called out to God…and He rescued us, rather than punished us? Where in our lives has God been “too nice to us?”

Rather than be upset with God for giving the undeserving a second, third, or fourth chance, we need to be grateful for all the second, third, and fourth chances He has given us. (Nehemiah 9:17) – Bret Legg.

2 Kings 11-12 – When You Need a Fresh Start


 

Ever need a fresh start? At the beginning of 2 Kings Chapter 11, the nation of Judah was in need of a fresh start. King Ahaziah had died and the king’s mother, Athaliah had taken over the rule of Judah. She was so bent on running things herself, she had all of the king’s family killed so none of them could dethrone her. And she ruled for six or seven years, taking Judah down a very wicked path.

But, one of the king’s sons (Joash) had been snuck out of the palace by the king’s sister and hidden in the temple, where he could grow and learn under the watchful eye of Jehoida the priest.

When Joash was finally revealed to take his rightful place on the throne, his grandmother, Athaliah, has been reigning for so long the wickedness was deeply entrenched. They were in need of a fresh start.

Jehoida, Joash, and the people took some broad steps toward a fresh start, and these steps are applicable for anyone who needs a fresh start. To get a fresh start, you must…

  1. Have COURAGE. Jehoida had the courage to hide Joash for six years, even though it was risky. (2 Kings 11:4-16)
  2. Enter into a COVENANT with God. Make a commitment of loyalty and obedience to Him above all others…including yourself. (2 Kings. 11:17)
  3. Undergo CLEANSING. Jehoida led the people to destroy the pagan altars, the pagan priests, and anything that would detract from loyal devotion to God. (2 Kings 11:18)
  4. COMMISSION God as your ruling king. Personally and publicly, place God on the throne of your life. (2 Kings 11:19-21)
  5. CONSTRUCT your life in a way that honors God. Consistently repair the areas of your life you’ve left unattended and the areas you’ve left in disrepair. (2 Kings 12:4-15)

Is your life in need of a fresh start? Try taking these five steps and watch how God responds!

2 Kings 8-10 – How Could a Loving God Allow This?

Every day, we hear of “random” acts of violence, people who have everything making “senseless” decisions that cost them everything, and people who “supposedly” represent a Holy God but do unholy things. You can’t help but wonder, “How could a loving God allow this?

Well, you get the same feeling reading 2 Kings chapters 8-10. So much blood-shed and murder. And it all seems to be directed by God Himself! On top of that, Jehu commands and carries out the killings, because God has communicated to him that this is the consequence of not obeying the Lord. Yet, Jehu doesn’t obey God completely either! (2 Kings 10:31) It’s like an oncologist who has just watched his patient die of lung cancer, yet goes outside for a cigarette!

So, to understand these chapters, let’s stick with the oncology theme for a minute. Think of these chapters in terms of cancer treatment. If cancer in a body is not stopped, the malignancy mutates and grows at an alarming rate. So a physician sets out to use chemotherapy and radiation to kill the cancerous cells and prevent them from completely taking over. But even though it’s only the cancer that’s targeted, many other cells (and the body itself) suffer from this treatment.

Though it doesn’t make us feel any better about it, this what is happening in 2 Kings 8-10.

We all suffer from the cancerous, addicting effects of a destructive sinful nature, yet we become indignant that God would allow bad things to happen to us. We look with smug satisfaction when others “get what they deserve,” but get upset with God if we should get what we deserve…even though God has been more gracious to us than we deserve.

Yes, 2 Kings 8-10 are ugly chapters. They point to our ugly condition and tendencies. But despite what God may allow, He is still seeking our best…even in our worst.