2 Kings continues the story of the nations of Israel and Judah. It is a history book, from the Old Testament of the Bible. In these history books, the Bible contains many important lessons for us today (2 Timothy 3:16).
2 Kings describes how the kings of these nations refused to obey God's law. The kings and their people did not respect God. Instead, they served evil gods. And the behaviour of the people was very wicked. However, there were a few people who truly served God. And God sent his servants (called "the prophets") to warn the evil people.
But the nations of Israel and Judah would not obey the words of the prophets. God allowed enemy nations to attack. These nations destroyed Israel and (later) Judah. And the soldiers took the inhabitants of Israel and Judah to distant countries. But God still cared about the people from Israel and Judah. God promised that, in the future, these people (or their children or grandchildren) would return home.
2 Kings begins with the end of the story of Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet of God. And God did not allow Elijah to die. Instead, Elijah went up to heaven. Elijah's companion was a man named Elisha. Elisha saw Elijah rise to heaven, in a vehicle of fire (2 Kings 2).
Elisha himself became a great prophet. Indeed, Elisha's work was even greater than Elijah's work. God gave Elisha power to do many wonderful things, for example:
- Elisha caused a dead child to live (2 Kings 4:8-37).
- Elisha made poisonous food safe (2 Kings 4:38-41).
- By God's power, Elisha cured Naaman. Naaman was the captain of a foreign army (2 Kings 5).
- Israel even won battles without a fight, because of Elisha (2 Kings 6:8-23).
The king of Israel, Joram, saw these wonderful things. But he was still an evil king. He still served false gods. And his wicked mother, Queen Jezebel, was still alive.
Then, God sent Elisha to a man named Jehu. Elisha appointed Jehu king of Israel. Jehu killed both Joram and Jezebel. God had promised that these evil rulers would die a terrible death. Jehu also killed many other evil people. Jehu even killed the priests of the false god named Baal. But Jehu still served other false gods. So, even Jehu did not truly serve the real God (2 Kings 9-10).
There were also terrible troubles in the nation of Judah. Queen Athaliah tried to kill the whole royal family. But a little boy named Joash survived. A priest named Jehoida helped Joash. Joash was 7 years old when the army captains killed Queen Athaliah. Then, Joash became king (2 Kings 11). And for many years, Joash was a good king. He repaired the temple (house of God) in Jerusalem. But after Jehoida died, Joash did some evil things. He took some holy objects from the temple. And then, he killed Jehoida's son, who was a prophet (holy man) (2 Chronicles 24:22). Soon afterwards, Joash's officials killed Joash (2 Kings 12).
After this, there were many evil kings. There were wars. There was even a war between Israel and Judah. And there were also some prophets (holy men). The prophet Jonah lived at this time.
The last king of Israel was called Hoshea. The king of the nation of Assyria attacked Israel. And he destroyed Israel (2 Kings 17). The king of Assyria gave the land to people from other countries. These people served God, but they also served false gods. God does not like this. We must serve the real God only.
The nation of Judah still existed. Its next king was a good king named Hezekiah. Hezekiah trusted God, but he made some important mistakes. When Hezekiah was in trouble, he prayed to God. So God sent the prophet Isaiah to Hezekiah. And God helped Hezekiah (2 Kings chapters 18-20).
Hezekiah's son, Manasseh, was very evil. Manasseh served terrible gods. He was a cruel man, who killed innocent people. God was angry when he saw these evil actions. So, God decided to destroy the nation of Judah, too (2 Kings 21:1-18).
But then, Josiah became king. Josiah was Manasseh's grandson. He was just a boy when he became king. Josiah was a good king. In fact, he was Judah's greatest ever king (2 Kings chapters 22-23). Josiah served God. Josiah loved God's law. Josiah encouraged the people to trust God. And Josiah repaired God's temple (the house of God).
So, God was kind to the nation of Judah. And God did not punish Judah during Josiah's life.
But, after Josiah's death, all the kings of Judah were evil. God allowed Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon) to attack Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the capital city of Judah. And Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem. He destroyed the whole country called Judah. This was very sad. Jeremiah (who was another prophet) wrote about this event in the Book of Lamentations.
When the kings served God, God helped them. But when the kings did evil things, God opposed them. God sent his servants, the prophets, to warn the kings. But when the kings refused to obey the prophets, God punished their nations.
We should learn from the book of 2 Kings. We must serve God only. We must not serve false gods. And, we must listen to God's words. If we do evil deeds, God might send someone to warn us. So, we must listen to other people's advice.