II Kings - Spiritual Climate Determines Economic Conditions

  • II Kings continues with the happenings and destinies of the two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) that began in I Kings. Israel was captured and dispersed by the Assyrians, while Judah was placed in exile in Babylonia. The kingdoms were divided in IKings but they were dissolved in IIKings.
  • It is not certain who wrote this book, but according to ancient Jewish tradition, Jeremiah did. Originally it was written to preserve the history of Israel and Judah for the Jews living in exile in Babylon. It appears that the author wanted his readers to learn the lessons of history, reminding them of the consequences of unfaithfulness to God.
  • The books of Kings were originally one book but were split into two in the third century by those who translated the Old Testament into Greek. IIKings covers over two hundred years from the ministry of Elisha under Ahaziah, king of Israel, and Jehoram, king of Judah, to the fall of the kingdom of Judah.
  • In this book we read of evil rulers, rampant idolatry, and a complacent population that was going in a downward spiral. Despite the pressure to conform, to turn from the Lord, and to serve only self, a minority of people moved the opposite direction, toward God. The Bethel prophets and others, as well as two righteous kings, spoke God’s word and stood for Him.
  • The author systematically traced the reigning monarchs of both Israel and Judah. Judah lasted 136 years longer than Israel did. Eight of Judah’s twenty kings had godly ways while Israel had nineteen consecutive evil kings, and they never broke away from Jeroboam’s idolatrous calf worship.
  • During these years, God sent His prophets Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea into the northern kingdom, and Obadiah, Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk into the southern kingdom. We see how the spiritual climate of the nation determined both its political and economic conditions.

An outline for the book:

  1. Chapters 1-17 record the history of Israel’s corruption as it was led by bad kings from Ahaziah to Hosea. All but one of its nine dynasties were created by murdering the previous king. This dark period was interrupted only by Elijah and Elisha.
  2. Chapters 18-25 trace the history of Judah, and because of exemplary faith and reforms, God not only spared Jerusalem from Assyria but also brought them a measure of prosperity. However, Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, was so idolatrous that his long reign led to the downfall of Judah. Even Josiah’s latter reforms could not stem the tide of evil, and the four kings who follow him were very wicked. Judah finally collapsed, resulting in the Babylonian exile.