Why Read the 2nd Book of Kings?

Elijah ascends, Elisha receives his mantle

We’re reading the 2nd Book of Kings in our lectionary now. Easy to dismiss these readings about kings and prophets with strange sounding names and skip over to Matthew and the words of Jesus. 

The 2nd Book of Kings is the last part of what commentators call “Deuteronomistic History,” the story of the settlement of the land by the Jews under Joshua to the downfall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and their eventual exile.

Overall, both 1 and 2 Kings paint a discouraging picture of Jewish kings and the political side of the time. In Monday’s reading, King Ahab and his wife Jezebel murder Naboth to grab the vineyard he owns. One example of the flagrant abuse of political power that took place then. As next week’s readings from 1 and 2 Kings indicate, it didn’t end there.

How about now ? Deuteronomistic History is Sacred History–it happens again. Take a look around.

The Prophet Elijah confronts Ahab and Jezebel in Tuesday’s reading. He’s a lonely voice for God’s judgment, other prophets are not brave enough to speak out. Yet, even as Elijah condemns, we see signs of God’s mercy when Ahab repents. 

In Wednesday’s reading there’s another lesson from Sacred History. Elisha takes on the mantle of Elijah. Another prophet appears in the land and is given power over kings and a voice to speak to the time. Lonely prophets–or is it prophetic movements?– are always there.

Ultimately, time is in God’s hand. History evolves according to God’s plan.  Where are the lonely prophets or prophetic movements today? Take a look around.

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