As I continue to read through the old testament, I have a tendency to become discouraged. Mostly because I cannot figure out why the kings don’t get it. They repeat the same mistakes, over and over. Occasionally, one will appear to be different, attempting to do good. But, his efforts are often half-hearted and almost always stamped out by the next generation. This pattern will continue through our reading of 2 Kings and into Chronicles. As you read the stories, pay attention to these three common threads.
Kings have a way of using God’s good things for their own aggrandizement For example, today in 2 Kings 1, Belshazzar occupies the throne. He is enjoying the good life and taking full advantage of his reign as king. In order to prove his greatness above all others during a party, he ordered the treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem to be brought out for the guests. It wasn’t enough for Belshazzar to simply use them for the party. In fact, while drinking from them, “they drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.” Daniel 5:4 (ESV). These acts clearly illustrate contempt of Godly things.
The reign of a king is temporary. Maybe you didn’t notice, but they all die. In fact, many of them come and go without any fanfare at all. During their reign, however, they make short-term decisions, based on their short-term world-view. Their goal is simple. To maximize their existence.
Contrast these kings’ short-term world-view with Jesus’ eternal world-view. His decisions and actions are clearly different, focusing not on his own existence but on the eternal existence of all people.
God invites them to participate in His work. Throughout these stories, God attempts to get their attention. He does it often through the voices of others, generally called prophets. They are the ones that know God’s word and will. Even though the king may have asked a prophet’s advice, they rarely listen, attempting instead to preserve their own ego’s, status and power. They refute and disclaim the advice of the prophets, always with predictable consequences. In the end, they are forced into humility by others, or they die an early death.
Jesus invites us to participate in His work too. In fact, not only are we promised forgiveness, we are also given new life. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are a “new creation.” Think of all the good things that we can do.