Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bible Challenge 05/22 - 05/28

Greetings Fellow Bible Readers!

As we move from I Kings and most of the way through II Kings this week we continue our look at the history of Israel, this time going back and forth through the divided kingdoms. The northern kingdom is Israel, capital in the city of Samaria and is made up of the ten northern tribes. The southern kingdom is Judah, capital in the city of Jerusalem, and is made up of the two southern tribes (Benjamin and Judah). The Scripture becomes a narrative of the lives and reigns of the many different kings in the two kingdoms.

There are a few prominent people and stories. For example we get an extended look at evil King Ahab of Israel and his interactions with the prophet Elijah in I Kings chapters 17-22. By the 2nd chapter of II Kings, Elijah is taken up to heaven to be with God and the story continues through his successor Elisha as he ministers to the northern kingdom of Israel. Chapter 5 includes the fascinating story of Naaman's healing and chapter 9 marks the death of Ahab's widow Jezebel. In chapters 11-12, the focus shifts to a young boy king in Judah named Joash who spends much of his time trying to restore the temple. Elisha dies in chapter 13 and here you also have a rather interesting account of what happens when someone is thrown into his grave months after his death. Talk about the power of the Lord! The downward spiral continues though the kingdom of Israel as king after king fails to follow the Lord and by chapter 17 we see that the northern kingdom of Israel has fallen to the Assyrians, with many of the people being carried away into exile. The last two chapters of this week's reading deal with King Hezekiah of Judah as he struggles to maintain his kingdom in the wake of threats by the Assyrians as well and how he strives to be faithful to God.

It's disheartening to me to see so many leaders of both Israel and Judah who failed to follow God and led the people astray as well. Time and time again we see these kings more concerned with their personal wealth and reputations than in doing what the Lord desired. Despite warnings from prophets, many do not turn their hearts back and eventually Israel falls prey to its enemies. But even in the midst of this consequence, God shows mercy and grace in not allowing Israel to be destroyed completely. There is a remnant. There is hope.

There is always hope!

Here is the schedule:

22, Sunday - I Kings 14-17

23, Monday - I Kings 18-21

24, Tuesday - I Kings 22 - II Kings 3

25, Wednesday - II Kings 4-7

26, Thursday - II Kings 8-11

27, Friday - II Kings 12-15

28, Saturday - II Kings 16-19

Stay safe and be blessed!

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