A study of the books of Kings and Chronicles reveals the struggles of Judah and Israel during challenging times. Kingdoms were constantly at war. Rivals sought to establish dominance and conquer more territories. What happened in Syria, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon had great impact upon everyday life in Judah and Israel, yet Scripture shows us how the children of God were affected through only two prisms: their kings and their prophets.
Today’s governments study the impact of world events on themselves and other nations. We’re concerned about geopolitics and global economics. We understand that many things beyond our borders impact our quality of life and our values. We monitor economies and analyze demographics. We look at weather patterns and crop production. Such things help explain our circumstances. Yet the Bible focused little on economics, geopolitics, or famines.
To be sure, such things are mentioned and they did have impact; but the critical indicator was always the righteousness or lack of righteousness in each generation as it functioned under its king. Generally, when the king was righteous, or even relatively righteous, the nation prospered without regard to things happening around them. When the king was wicked, the nation became wicked; and its wickedness brought it constant warfare, intrigue, famine, and perils of every kind.
For 400 years, the kings of Judah and Israel, the nations that surrounded them, and the prophets that God sent to them influenced their lifestyles for good or bad. Rarely did God’s prophets turn the whole nation back to God. Mt. Carmel is a thrilling exception. Occasionally kings and prophets worked in harmony, but it was more common to see them at odds with one another. Each of the 19 kings of Israel were evil, doing the things that Jeroboam, its first king, had done – that is they each led their generation into evil and away from God. Kings like Asa and Jehoshaphat led the people back to God and worked with the prophets of God. But after the death of Solomon, Judah would not see a good king until his grandson came to the throne. A good king being followed by a good king (like Asa and Jehoshaphat or Joash and Amaziah) almost never happened. Hezekiah was the best king since David, but his son Manasseh was the worst.
Manasseh became king when he was 12 and reigned for 55 years. His long reign merits just 18 verses in 2 Kings and 20 verses in the parallel account of 2 Chronicles 33. The Bible says, “Manasseh seduced them to do evil more than the nations around them” (2 Kings. 21:9). We learn that he eventually repented and entreated God. He attempted to right his wrongs and to lead the people back to God, but it was too late. He repented, but his nation did not. For what they did in his lifetime and afterward, the kingdom of Judah was carried away.
A nation’s leader has tremendous influence. If that leader is moral and has integrity, he or she can do much to bring about legislation that exalts righteousness. But an immoral and godless leader will destroy a nation. He or she doesn’t have to commit “every sin in the book”; all it takes is a subtle endorsement of things that lead to unrighteousness. It only takes silence to encourage wickedness. It only takes a stroke of the pen to bring ruin on a people. That leader may one day have a change of heart – but will the nation that was shamefully misled be as remorseful? The Bible says to pray for our leaders that we might “lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2). Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
Keep studying! DC Brown ©2014