Saturday, May 14, 2016

2 Kings 17

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Kings 17. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • In verses 1-6 we see the downfall of the "northern kingdom" (we've read previously that the nation of Israel had been split in two). In verses 7-23 we get the theological explanation for why Israel fell. God had told Israel from the beginning that if it didn't keep it's covenant with God, it would suffer (see Deuteronomy 28:49-68 and 32:1-47). God had given repeated warnings and second chances to Israel, but they never repented and never changed. Because of that, this consequence was inevitable.
  • Verse 17 mentions the Israelites committed the sin of consulting fortune tellers. This was (and still is) forbidden by God (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14) because it's seeking power and guidance apart from God and His word. God forbidding it is a way of protecting us, as the Bible says there are evil "spirits" who lie to and deceive us. God doesn't want us to open ourselves up to that kind of deception.
  • In verse 18 it says, "Only the tribe of Judah was left." That was the "southern kingdom."
  • "he sent lions among them" (verse 25). There had always been lions in this area (see, for instance, 1 Kings 13:24 and 20:36) but the new residents of Samaria (and the writer of 2 Kings) viewed the lion attacks as punishment from God for living in this area and not worshipping him.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • There is a repeated theme when you read through the sins of the Israelite people (such as in verses 7-23) that they (God's people) did what they did because they wanted to be like everyone else. They "imitated the nations around them" even though God had commanded, "Do not do as they do" (verse 15). God's people today continue to struggle with the same thing. The practices we imitate don't include making idols and putting up Ashram poles. But we do follow the norms of our society in all kinds of ways. Maybe it's a willingness to gossip or lie, or putting entertainment and sports as a higher priority than prayer and church attendance, or keeping all of our money for ourselves or giving our bodies away to people to whom we're not married. We are too often guilty of the same thing as the Israelites. And, like them, God is gracious and will give second chances, but if we don't repent or change, there will be inevitable consequences.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • Where do you see your thinking or values or behaviors being influenced more by the world than by God? Where do you need to repent and change? Thank God for his grace towards you, and ask him to empower you in a commitment to truly be God's man or woman and to live in his ways, not the ways of the world.