When Kingdoms Fall
Kingdoms fall. So what should we do? Wring our hands and weep? It happened to Israel and Judah. What can we learn from their history?
[Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 2 Kings.]
Two Kingdoms in Ruins
What do you make of this history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and the ignominious demise of them both? There is little to celebrate here from a human point of view. Men, including kings, are fallen creatures who sin. Most of the kings chronicled here used their privileges to sin in a big way, leading their nations astray from God and His law. Eventually, their sin found them out and they paid a price. Few did well, and fewer ended well.
Gone were the glory days and the optimism that surrounded the inauguration of David or Solomon so many years earlier. The citizens of these kingdoms were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were the people God brought out of Egyptian slavery under the wise and godly leadership of Moses. These were God’s covenant people whom He chose to be His own–the people of the Law whose forefathers had trembled before God [Exodus 19:1-6; 20:1-21].
Trying to Make Sense of It
How did they get here? The autopsy of the kingdom of Israel was “they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant…they neither listened nor obeyed” (2 Kings 18:12). Listening but not obeying is bad enough, but they did neither.
Josiah made a commendable effort to restore worship to Judah, but it was too late. Nothing could stop the wrath of God unleashed through Manasseh’s evil reign (2 Kings 23:26-27). Jerusalem and Judah would end up like Israel in captivity—cast out of God’s presence (2 Kings 24:20).
What was left? When the dust of destruction settled, only the glory of God remained undiminished. The failure of Israel and Judah in no way reflected negatively on their God. God did not fail His people; His people failed Him and they failed Him persistently over many long decades. The Apostle Paul centuries later would write: “Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:4). The whole world can line up and say that God was unfaithful to Israel, but that would not make it true.
On the contrary, continuing to follow Paul’s argument, “our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God [and] through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory” (Romans 3:5,7). All sin, even the reckless disobedience of Israel and Judah, serves to show the righteousness and glory of God.
The Right Response
How do we respond to the fall of these kingdoms? We should be in awe of the blinding majesty and holiness of God against the backdrop of His very sinful people. It behooves us to humble ourselves as we consider His great mercy toward us who deserve eternal hell. We should be grateful for His compassion toward us to send His Son to live a perfect life and die the most agonizing death possible as our Redeemer, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Most of us are not even members of the Jewish people who historically had the benefits of God’s word and His extraordinary works. We were Gentile sinners outside of the covenant, but He drew us to Himself by His love and through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Kingdoms fall. So what should we do? We should worship with all our hearts the God of grace who saves those who come to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true King of the Eternal Kingdom in which righteousness dwells—the kingdom that shall never fall.
This week’s reading: Luke