We continue our Church Reading Plan and head into 1-2 Kings, and as we’ve done in the past, here’s a quick overview of the book to help you dive deeper into your daily reading.
1-2 Kings covers the period of the monarchs in ancient Israel (970-586 BC). This does not include the stories of King Saul and only covers a portion of King David as we’ve just read their stories in 1-2 Samuel.
We are going to read quite a bit of history. So much happens over 380+ years. There are several kings and several countries that may be new to you. You don’t need to memorize every king and story, but it’s important to pick up the themes and understand why we are reading this book.
So, why are we reading this book? Or more importantly, why was it written?
To answer this question, let’s skip to the end of Kings.
The End of the Monarchy
What caused Israel to stop having kings? Let’s look at some history. (Please note: this is all explained in 1-2 Kings. Do not feel pressure to understand all of this now.)
There are four players you need to know about: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Judah.
Egypt is allied with Assyria with their conflict with Babylon. Also, Israel is divided into Southern (Judah) and Northern (Israel) territories, and Israel is occupied by Assyria.
Pharaoh Necco II of Egypt is on his way to Assyria to help battle against Babylon when he meets King Josiah of Judah and they fight it out. Judah loses and now they are under the authority of Egypt. Egypt, now in control, appoints King Jehoiakim over Judah. The King sides with the Babylonians (obviously, who wants to be controlled by another country?); although, he later revolts against Babylon and then loses to King Nebuchadnezzar (you may know this man from the book of Daniel). Eventually, Jerusalem (which is in Judah) falls to Babylon under the leadership of King Zedekiah of Judah.
Yes, you read that correctly. Jerusalem falls. The Temple and the palace is destroyed. The city is in ruins. Some people are deported and sent to Babylon, while others are left to grieve in their once great nation. The Israel Monarchy is no more.
The Question is Asked
So, where was God? Why didn’t He stop Babylon? How could the Temple, the symbol of Yahweh, be destroyed? Is God really all powerful?
The answer is God was there the entire time, yet Israel’s great sinfulness and disobedience caused their destruction. Israel did not obey God or heed His words through the prophets. Many of the kings turned from God and worshiped other gods (yes, even King Solomon). Even the best kings (Hezekiah and Josiah) could not save Israel from their sin.
Ultimately, 1-2 Kings was written to not only teach us the history of Israel’s monarchy, but also to explain why it failed.
Quick Overview of Kings
In 1-2 Kings we will meet one of the greatest kings, King Solomon. We will see the Temple built, which was the permanent space for God’s presence on earth — the place where heaven and earth meet! We will see the Kingdom divide and fall — the Northern (Israel) will fall to Assyria and the Southern (Judah) will fall to Babylon. We will also meet and learn about 30 kings! Some kings were good, but most of them were disobedient and will be rather frustrating to read.
Let’s do this!
If you would like more information on this time period and genre, read or re-read our previous blog post on the Historical Books.
We invite you to join us as we read the Historical Books as a church. If you attend service, there will be a reading bookmark for you to pick up at the welcome table. Until then, you are welcome to access the reading plan via this spreadsheet (not as nice looking).
If you want to dive in deeper or have questions, contact me (Tawny@RealChicago.com) and I can offer resources and/or a nerdy conversation.