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Six Final Kings, Two Huge Prophecies, And The Aftermath

MORNING MESSAGE: John Cline

Text:  2 Kings 15 and 17; Isaiah 9:1-7

Today, we will be looking at…

The Six Final Kings of Israel

The life-stories of most of the 19 kings of Israel are told in only the briefest of fashions in the O.T. whereas the lives of the kings of Judah were dealt with rather fully as the biblical writers knew that through the kings of Judah, not the kings of Israel would come the family line of King David which was God’s chosen line through which the Messiah and God’s kingdom would come. By contrast, the kings of Israel were viewed as frauds, hooligans and usurpers and the disdain with which the compilers of the Bible viewed them can be seen in 2 repeated phrases in 1st and 2nd Kings that we will read today, starting with…

1.King Zechariah

In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned six months. (2 Kings 15:8)

The next phrase that we will read is the first of the two phrases repeated time after time concerning almost every king of Israel and for all of us to fully comprehend the seriousness of these phrases we will read them together out loud each time they appear. About Zechariah:

He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his predecessors had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (2 Kings 15:9)

Now the Jeroboam son of Nebat mentioned had been the divided kingdom of Israel’s first king. The specific sin of his that was fingered as being the cause for Israel’s eventual destruction was idolatry. Remember that Jerusalem and the Temple of YHWH God was in the nation of Judah, not in Israel. All the residents of the United Israel were required to go there to worship God. But, after Israel split into two nations, Jeroboam feared that if his citizens were continually going to Jerusalem that his nation wouldn’t be taken seriously as the people would eventually want to reunite with Judah back into one nation. As a scheme to prevent that from happening, he established worship centres in the northern city of Dan and the southern city of Bethel and, in each, erected a golden calf statue placed on an altar, telling the Israelites to worship those twin golden calves and proclaiming, “These were the gods that led our people out of Egypt”. This idolatrous breaking of the first 2 of the 10 commandments and it led to the people not worshiping YHWH God. The problem with the 18 kings who followed Jeroboam was that none of them stopped that sinful practice. As a result, God was largely driven out of the nation and His favour withdrawn from it and the kings. Thus, With Zechariah, it was not surprising that his life ended this way:

Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against Zechariah. He attacked him in front of the people, assassinated him and succeeded him as king. (2 Kings 15:10)

Being murdered was the normal life’s end for Israel’s kings, with the exception of only a few kings, as God’s favour was not with them. Zechariah’s reign lasted 6 months but because he did little good while king, the biblical writers finished their accounting of his life thusly:

The other events of Zechariah’s reign are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. (2 Kings 15:11)

That phrase was the writers’ way of saying, “We don’t want to spend anymore time writing about this guy but, if you want to know more, you can go to the book known as ‘The Annals of the Kings of Israel’”. Sadly, such books have been lost to history. About Zechariah, though, the biblical writers did reveal that he had been king only because God had faithfully kept a promise He had made to Jehu, his great-great-grandfather, a former military officer who had obeyed God’s instruction to him to eliminate the evil family of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. As a result, God made Jehu Israel’s king and promised him this…

“Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” (2 Kings 10:30)

Following Jehu as king came his son Jehoahaz, grandson Jehoash, great-grandson Jeroboam II, and great-great grandson Zechariah.

So, the word of the Lord spoken to Jehu was fulfilled: “Your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” (2 Kings 15:12)

From that, we can see God is faithful to His promises, even with scoundrels. But, with Jehu’s family line, once that specific promise had been fulfilled, its end came swiftly for Zechariah was then murdered by Shallum. Zechariah’s murderer, Shallum, had such a short reign, though, that almost nothing of his life is mentioned in the bible.

  1. King Shallum

The murderer reigned for one month before himself being murdered.

Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned in Samaria one month. Then Menahem son of Gadi went from Tirzah up to Samaria. He attacked Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, assassinated him and succeeded him as king. (2 Kings 15:13,14)

That’s all that was written about King Shallum. Reading together…

The other events of Shallum’s reign, and the conspiracy he led, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. (2 Kings 15:15)

Menahem’s insurrection started out in northern Israel, with abominable things being done to the residents of the cities of Tirzah and Tiphsah.

At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women. (2 Ks 15:13-16)

Thus:

  1. King Menahem

In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria ten years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. (2 Kings 15:17)

Next, reading together out loud, the passage then says,

During his entire reign he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (2 Kings 15:18)

Now, Assyria was the superpower of the day, and a threat to Israel.

Then Pul king of Assyria invaded the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver to gain his support and strengthen his own hold on the kingdom. (2 Kings 15:19)

A thousand talents of silver was 37 tons of silver, a huge amount!

Menahem exacted this money from Israel. Every wealthy person had to contribute fifty shekels of silver to be given to the king of Assyria. So, the king of Assyria withdrew and stayed in the land no longer. (2 Kings 15:20)

So, together let’s read the usual statement, this time about Menahem:

As for the other events of Menahem’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? (2 Kings 15:21)

Because he had so severely impoverished his countrymen, there was no one strong enough to murder him, it is believed. But, after 10 years,

Menahem rested with his ancestors. And Pekahiah his son succeeded him as king. (2 Kings 15:22)

Menahem had been a bad king but his son was no better.

  1. King Pekahiah

In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned two years. (2 Kings 15:23)

Reading out loud together:

Pekahiah did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (2 Kings 15:24)

Then, the usual happened:

One of his chief officers, Pekah son of Remaliah, conspired against him. Taking fifty men of Gilead with him, he assassinated Pekahiah, along with Argob and Arieh, in the citadel of the royal palace at Samaria. So Pekah killed Pekahiah and succeeded him as king. (2 Kings 15:25)

Reading together out loud:

The other events of Pekahiah’s reign, and all he did, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. (2 Kings 15:26)

Two kings to go!

  1. King Pekah

In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned twenty years. (2 Kings 15:27)

Reading together out loud:

He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (2 Kings 15:27,28)

At this point we can finally mention something positive. During the

period of Israel’s final 6 kings, Isaiah the prophet was ministering in Judah from where he wrote a wonderful prophecy of hope in which he referenced the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, regions of Israel which it would lose to the Assyrians. 2 Kings records the various cities in Zebulun and Naphtali which were lost to the Assyrians:

In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maakah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor. He took Gilead and Galilee, including all the land of Naphtali, and deported the people to Assyria. (2 Kings 15:29)

The deportation of Israel to Assyria had thus begun when Isaiah wrote:

Our First Huge Prophecy

It is a prophecy that Christians love. Together, let’s read it out loud:

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future, he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, The rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Is. 9:1-7)

In the midst of the destruction of Israel, YHWH God was at work,

planning for His Son, Jesus, to be born out of the royal line of Judah, to give redemption to all lands and peoples. A child born; a son given. That should assure us that God is at work in our lives even when things are rough! Let’s return to Israel’s kings now. One final murder.

Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired against Pekah son of Remaliah. He attacked and assassinated him, and then succeeded him as king in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah. (2 Kings 15:30)

Together, out loud, let’s read…

As for the other events of Pekah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? (2 Kings 15:31)

Thankfully, this accounting of the six final kings of Israel is ending.

  1. King Hoshea

Hoshea was the last king of the kingdom of Israel.

In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. (2 Kings 17:1)

One last time reading out loud together.

He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him. (2 Kings 17:2)

Hoshea’s sins were “different” in that they were not against YHWH God only but also against Assyria’s king, which led to the horrible event of defeat and exile to Assyria, whose soldiers put hooks in the noses of the people, attached to ropes which were connected to horses which then forcibly dragged the Israelite people to Assyria.

Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So, king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore, Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:3-6)

At the time Israel left Egypt hundreds of years before, they were divided into 12 tribes. When the united Kingdom of Israel later divided, 2 of those tribes (Judah and Benjamin) formed a new nation, Judah, while the other 10 tribes kept the name of Israel for their nation. Those 10 tribes of Israel were the ones deported to Assyria. They never returned and are called the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel”. God had sent various prophets to Israel to say if they repented of Jeroboam’s sin of idolatry, that the Assyrian disaster would not fall on them. But they refused. All those prophecies collectively thus today make up:

Our Second Huge Prophecy

Listen now to Chapter 17 of 2nd Kings, the Bible’s saddest chapter.

All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not do this.” The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger. So, the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. Therefore, the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, he thrust them from his presence. (2 Kings 17:7-20)

1s and 2nd Kings were written, probably by Jewish scholars writing while in Babylon about 150 years after the Assyrian exile.

When the Lord tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the Lord and caused them to commit a great sin. The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them until the Lord removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So, the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there. (2 Kings 17:21-23)

The biblical writers knew that the people of Israel had not repented of their sins which had resulted in them being sent into exile in Assyria, thus they could say, “and they are still there” as a result of those sins. To start to wrap things up: there were 2 developments in

The Aftermath of that exile to Assyria.

The practice of the Assyrians was to take people groups from their homelands throughout the region and then resettle them in other places, thus weakening the ethnicity of those people groups and any diminishing any threat of an uprising against Assyria. Archaeologists have discovered Assyrian writings which affirm the Bible’s words that

Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. (2 Kings 17:24)

When troubles occurred in Samaria, it was reported to Assyria’s king.

Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” So, one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord. (2 Kings 17:27,28)

The priest of YHWH did his best but…

Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named “Israel”. When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did. (2 Kings 17:29-41)

So, the aftermath was syncretism and inter-marriage, producing children and generations of people in Samaria who were not worshipers of only YHWH God nor fully Jewish in bloodline. God, in His mercy, turned that Samaritan situation into a positive, as we will now see. The situation was that when the Jews of Judah came back from Babylonian exile, they decreed that the Samaritans were not acceptable in Jerusalem. Thus, the groundwork was laid for Jesus, a Jesus man, to do a wonderful thing in Samaria, and for everyone. Jesus, the child who was “born” and the son who was “given”, according to Isaiah’s prophecy, was travelling through Samaria…

Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:7-15) “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (J 4:19-26)

That woman became the first evangelist of the Gospel, as she went back into her town and told her friends about Jesus, the one she knew to be the Christ, the Messiah. They then went out and met with Jesus, also coming to faith in him, and declaring him to be the “saviour of the world”. So, today, we have worked through the horrible histories of Israel’s final six kings, but we have seen that God never gave up on establishing a people who would worship Him and be saved by Him. Through these history and bible lessons, we can be assured that God never gives up in wanting to bless and save people. Israel’s sin and exile resulted in God’s grace and salvation being presented to everyone. A “child is born, a son is given”. His name is Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. Amen.

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