Sermon Study Guide
THE KINGS OF ISRAEL & JUDAH
Answers (Lesson 82) - June 11, 2023 - Rev. Alan Cousins
Text: Selected Scriptures from the NASB
Introduction: After Solomon’s death, God split the kingdom, giving 10 tribes to Jeroboam and leaving Judah to be ruled by Rehoboam in the line of David. Israel rebelled against Rehoboam when he foolishly followed the bad advice of his friends rather than the wise advice of the experienced advisors of his father.
1 Kings 12:13-20
So the great kingdom of Israel was divided. The 10 tribes of the north were called Israel and the southern tribes were called Judah. The rest of the books of Kings and Chronicles outlines the reigns of kings in both kingdoms. Today, we will look at an overview of the kings in this time period, and in future lessons we will zoom in on some key accounts.
I. THE KINGS OF ISRAEL (1 Kings 14:7-18; 16:25-28; 16:29-33; 2 Kings 10:30-31; 17:1-2)
Let’s start with Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel.
1 Kings 14:7-18
Jeroboam turned out to be an evil king because he promoted idolatry. In verse 15, God promised that Israel would be uprooted and scattered beyond the Euphrates River because of their idolatry.
There were 4 kings between Jeroboam and the next one we are going to look at briefly this morning.
1 Kings 16:25-28
Here we learn that Omri was even more wicked than Jeroboam.
1 Kings 16:29-33
This passage tells us that Ahab did more evil than all of those before him. Overall, Ahab was likely the most wicked of all the kings of Israel. His wife Jezebel was part of the disaster that befell Israel in his days.
2 Kings 10:30-31
Jehu actually started out pretty good; but then he turned away from the Lord and did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.
2 Kings 17:1-2
Hoshea was the last king of Israel. He was evil, but actually not as bad as some of those before him.
We have only mentioned a few of the 19 kings who reigned over Israel, but if we looked at the rest, we would see the same pattern. During the 209 years before Israel went into captivity, she was never ruled by a good king. They were all evil and all of them failed to worship God.
The kings of Israel were constantly compared to Jeroboam. Jeroboam introduced idol worship into the northern kingdom by fashioning two calves to be worshiped. Just as David was the model of faithfulness, Jeroboam became the model of unfaithfulness to God. That is why the rest of the wicked kings are said to continue in the sins, or idolatry and unfaithfulness, of Jeroboam.
In 721 BC, God fulfilled His promise to Jeroboam to uproot Israel and scatter the people beyond the Euphrates River. We will talk about the Assyrian captivity in more detail in a few weeks.
God alone is to be worshiped! The kings of Israel led the people astray to worship calves, Baal, Asherah, and other false gods. They rejected the holiness of the true God and committed spiritual adultery with the false gods. The kings of Israel rejected God’s holiness and followed a pattern of wickedness.
II. THE KINGS OF JUDAH (2 Chr. 12:1, 12-14; 1 Kings 15:8-15; 22:41-44; 2 Kings 18:1-10; 24:17-20)
Now let’s shift our focus to the southern kingdom of Judah.
2 Chronicles 12:1, 12-14
Of course, this passage is about Rehoboam the son of Solomon to whom God granted the rule of Judah to continue the promise made to David -- that a descendant of David’s would always sit on his throne (1 Kings 2:4).
Rehoboam forsook the law of the Lord, and the people did likewise. Jerusalem is noteworthy in this passage because God had chose to honor His name there. This is where the temple remained even during the period of division between the two kingdoms. From this point forward, Israel and Judah were constantly at war with each other.
1 Kings 15:8-15
Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and his heart was loyal to the Lord all his days. He is compared to “his father” David (actually David was his great-great grandfather). During his reign, Asa burned the Asherah poles but did not tear down the high places where sacrifices were offered to false gods.
1 Kings 22:41-44
In this passage, we learn that Jehoshaphat ruled Judah at the same time Ahab was ruling in Israel. These dates help us organize the kings and their reigns, especially when kings in the north and south have the same names. Jehoshaphat followed his father Asa, and did what was right in the sight of the Lord.
2 Kings 18:1-10
Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord, as David had done. He worked hard to stamp out idolatry during his reign as king. He tore down the places of idol worship, burning and smashing the idols. There were none as good as Hezekiah among all the kings of Judah. He brought a significant restoration to Judah at the time when Israel to the north was being taken into captivity by the Assyrians.
2 Kings 24:17-20
Zedekiah was the final king of Judah and he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Babylon took over Judah in 607 BC when Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.
In Judah, there was a pattern of both good and bad kings with several periods of revival. The kingdom of Judah lasted longer than Israel, but there were still only 20 kings in the south, several of them ruling for more than 30 years. All of these kings were from the line of David, though not all of them followed God as David had done. God kept the line of Judah intact as He had promised to leave a descendant of David on the throne until the coming of the eternal King -- Jesus.
The periods of rebellion and idolatry brought destruction to Judah. God used the Babylonians in 588 BC to destroy Judah, take the people captive, and burn Jerusalem and the temple built by Solomon.
God sent many prophets to both the northern and southern kingdoms to call them to repentance. He reserved the punishment they deserved for their wickedness.
By withholding punishment for so many centuries, God was displaying His mercy by sending warnings and holding back the punishment the people deserved. It also testifies to God’s attributes of long-suffering and patience.
III. WHAT YOU’VE HEARD IN THE WORD
The patterns of wickedness and failures in the kings of Israel and Judah came down to a matter of worship. Most of the kings chose to worship false gods rather than the true God. With their influence, they led many people astray and brought destruction to the kingdoms they ruled over.
All of these kings were part of the fallen race of Adam and prone to follow their sinful hearts rather than looking to God and trusting in and worshiping Him alone.
We owe our full allegiance and worship to God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must guard our hearts and minds from being influenced to seek the things of the world rather than the things which are above. We must test every message we receive against the truth of God’s Word -- the absolute authority in our lives.