God Keeps His Promise

In many ways you can see Solomon as a microcosm of the whole nation of Israel: chosen by God, commits to be faithful to God and is richly blessed, turns from following God to embrace the pagan deities of the surrounding peoples, experiences God’s discipline and is removed from God’s favor and blessing.

Solomon is followed by a succession of 40 different kings over Israel and Judah, none of them completely devoted to the Lord or able to lead the people in devotion to the Lord. 

Notice what is said about each new king of Israel: he “walked in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat.” In other words Jeroboam son of Nebat established a pattern of sin that Israel followed for years, until their ultimate destruction. What did Jeroboam son of Nebat do (1 Kings 12:25-33)?

In an attempt to appease the people of Israel who had wondered away to worship the pagan fertility Gods, and at the same time pacify the people who might choose to return to the Lord, he made Golden Calves and placed them in different parts of the kingdom and declared them equivalent to the true temple. Israel could then “worship” in places other than God’s temple in Jerusalem, and they could worship in a system that combined the worship of God with the worship of the pagan fertility Gods (the blending together of the worship of different Gods is called syncretism).

In institutionalizing syncretism Jeroboam son of Nebat reduced God to nothing more than any of the other gods and established in Israel a whole series of practices God warned and warned Israel not to engage. No subsequent king ever returns Israel wholly to the Lord.

By the time of kings Omri and Ahab, Israel is an utterly pagan people and the true God completely rejected and forgotten. The kings God warned Israel against have done exactly what God warned they would do: they have led Israel to break the covenant with God.

In 1 and 2 Kings two men emerge who still remember and fear God, and who still remember the covenant promises Israel is obliged to keep with God. They are prophets, Elijah and then Elisha.

The narrator of the books of Kings skims through the details of each successive king of Judah and Israel but focuses in great detail on what Elijah and Elisha do. They are called by God to be the men who challenge the kings of Israel and Judah to remember the covenant and return to the Lord.

It doesn’t seem to help. After Elisha dies the Assyrians conquer the tribes of Israel and physically remove the people to slavery in Assyria. The Assyrians then resettle the land God gave the Nation of Israel with people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24). Israel’s conquest of the land God swore to give the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has been reversed.

So much happens so fast in 1 and 2 Kings it’s hard to keep it all straight. But, the narrator of 2 Kings wants to make sure we understand very clearly what has happened so he explains it very clearly in 2 Kings 17:6-23 (worth a re-read).

Recall the covenant blessings and curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. God has kept his covenant promise for disobedience in Israel and is about to do the same in Judah. God keeps his covenants and his promises.