A book of judgment and transformation
The downward slide of the promised land to ruin is punctuated by 3 themes of grace and promise from God.
First he speaks extraordinarily through the prophets. The opening chapters are moments from the lives of Elijah and Elisha, who have God’s grace and abundance poured through them. They are given signs of power that echo moses and prefigure the ministry of Jesus. A promise that in all the chaos, God is still active and speaking loud and clear. He’s not abandoned Israel or mankind.
Second the focus on the line of David being preserved, the mechanics of how the promise of a king is being transformed into the promise of a messiah.
As the book progresses, the kingdoms of Assyria and Babylon grow in power. The northern kingdom, Israel falls to Assyria, and later the southern kingdom of Judah falls to Babylon, and Jerusalem’s walls and temple are completely destroyed.
In both cases its clear from the narrative we are to view it not as the triumph of evil, but the judgment of God through the exercise of power by men, just as we weren’t to view the destruction of Canaan peoples as evil when the promised land was settled.
Its impossibly harsh, but that is judgment. The wages of sin is death, as Jesus said, sooner or later.
The third sign that all is not lost are two godly kings right before the final destruction. This seems specific to the Jewish promise, not so much the greater plan of human salvation. The jews will return, and these reigns form a model of Judaism that will be restored.
The last substantial King Josiah is the first to have celebrated the passover, out of all, including David. He is sent a copy of the law, and loves it and God with all his heart. The coming destruction by the Babylonians is staved off for the entirety of his reign.
After this seemingly complete annihilation of Abraham’s covenants in any recognisable earthly form, the walls, the temple, Jerusalem will against all odds be rebuilt and the passover will continue to be celebrated until the time of Jesus when it will branch off to be turned into the meal of his sacrifice for christian believers still today.
I expected Kings to be a depressing book, but it says that in despair hope is sometimes greater than you think. Sometimes you need to let go of what you think is important to God to actually hear him.
I’m writing this summary in a week that includes two tragic sad deaths and a divorce in our network of friends.
But God is in control, it may not feel like it, but he is, the signs are there.
God’s power is not diminished, but is expressed through prophets not kings
God’s salvation will come through a king’s line, not kings and kingdoms
The fall of the kingdoms – slowed by 2 reigns of compassion and godliness