Today in America we celebrate Independence Day with much pomp and circumstance. Fireworks, BBQ’s, get-togethers, and a day off work for some are given to remember the high cost of our liberty. When the Puritans escaped from England it was the beginning of what John Adams called ‘a day of deliverance’ and a ‘gift from God’. In the Books of Kings (I’ll deal with them as one) we find independence a continuing theme, however, Israel wanted independence from God not independence to worship Him freely. Our nation was founded on Biblical principles and with a consciousness of God that has lasted 238 years and Israel’s rebellion against God lasted for over four centuries.
King Solomon continued to rule over the united kingdom of Israel but at his death he divided the land. He appointed his son Rehoboam over the south and called it Judah and his servant Jeroboam over the north and called it Israel. More bad decisions from Solomon.
The books of the kings remind us that people need godly leadership; without it we fall deeper and deeper into sin which leads to judgment. That’s true for Israel and also for America. After 19 kings in the north (Israel) who were all evil and 20 in the south (Judah) with only 8 who were good, we see God’s judgment: exile. The northern kingdom was eventually conquered by the Assyrians, deported into captivity, and dispersed throughout the empire. Meanwhile, due to the hard work of the 8 good kings in the south, God allowed Judah to remain for another 150 years. The day of judgment finally arrived and they were exiled to Babylon for 70 years.
Even though the kings would come and go we get a sense that this account, written during the Babylonian captivity, would bring a sense of hope and encouragement that Messiah was indeed coming. God graciously communicated through the prophets during this dark time in their history calling them to repent and return to Him, yet to no avail. It was God’s plan from the beginning to preserve the southern kingdom of Judah and we find Jesus there.
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5 ESV)
God preserved His remnant from Babylon so that the final King, Jesus Christ, would arrive to rescue them and set up His eternal reign. The books of the kings look forward, along with Christians today, to that final King.
From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:15, 16 ESV)