Day 18: Looking Ahead to the Coming of God’s Kingdom! Pt. 1 (I & II Kings, I & II Chonicles, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah)   

We now come to one of the most confusing parts of the bible that is often overlooked and undervalued due to its confusing story line. To many people it is confusing on several different levels. First, because it’s a story where parts of it are repeated and other parts are not. Secondly, it’s a time where God’s people are divided into a north kingdom and a southern kingdom, causing two completely different lines of kings to emerge for over 300 years. And because we have no clear-cut corresponding dates for these kings, it becomes hard to see how they fit with each other. 

  • Add to that, God also begins to raise up prophets, his mouth pieces to his people during this very dark time in their history. Some of these prophets are sent to the northern kingdom, while others are sent to the southern kingdom. And just to make it more complicated, some are sent to both and some are sent to specific gentile nations who God is using in is grand scheme of things!
  • So, trying to keep track of all these prophets and see how they fit in with these two different lines of kings and what God is doing in some of the surrounding nations can be overwhelming to say the least.
  • Furthermore, as you read through these different storylines, you discover how some of the kings are good, and some are evil, and near the end of their timelines, become extremely evil, thus causing each line of kings (North and south kingdom) to end tragically. This then led to both their temples being ransacked and destroyed! God’s people then scattered across the world while others were forced to live in captivity for 70 years!  
  • But not all is lost! Israel’s captivity comes to an end as prophesied, and they are set free to begin rebuilding their individual lives and rebuilding their national identity. Slowly but surely, they build a new temple and reestablish Jerusalem as their city. But unfortunately, neither the temple nor its city ever reaches the grandeur of what it was in David’s/Solomon’s time, leaving them asking what’s missing God? What’s next?    
  • Lastly, this section of history is hard to understand because different parts of this history is covered by different books, which are not in chronological order. So, if you don’t know how they all fit together, the historic timeline is lost. 


Over the next six days we are going to look at this story from two different perspectives. 

  • Today and tomorrow, we will look at this chronologically from the perspective of covenant and how because Israel had broken covenant with God, in which there were consequences, all designed to draw them back to himself.
  • Then we will take four days to look at the same time frame through the eyes of a group of people that God raised up as prophets, who were seen as the covenant enforcers. Their job was to communicate God’s view on specific issues of the day along with the consequences of their actions.


The chronological order: 

  • Is conveyed from a covenant point of view by 3 primary books and one secondary book. I say primary books because in the Hebrew Bible, first and second Kings was one book, as was first and second Chronicles, and Ezra and Nehemiah. Therefore, they need to be read as three books, not six.
  • The fourth book is Esther, who recounts for us the story of how God preserved Israel during the time of the captivity.


The basic outlines for the book’s are as follows...

A.    First and Second Kings... traditionally acknowledged as being written by Jeremiah!           

  • Content: starting with the reign of Solomon, the story highlights both his initial successfulness and then the decline    and eventual dissolution of the monarchy in Israel and the expulsion of God's people from the land.
  • Historical coverage: from the death of David (970 BC) to the six century exile of Judah (586 BC).
  • Emphasis: the evaluation of the monarchy based on covenant loyalty, resulting in the expulsion from the land and the schism and civil wars between North and South and the rise of superpowers that under the direction of God subjugated Israel and Judah.
  • Purpose: The book of Kings is ultimately answering: The question, "In light of God's covenant with Abraham and with David, how did all this happen to us?" The answer: God has not failed his people; his people, led by their kings, have failed their God. The covenants, after all, have the contingency of Israel's faithfulness written into them. But the covenant also promises that God will return Israel from exile as they return to Him.
  • Deuteronomy 30:1-7 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
  • Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.
  • The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you.


B.    First and Second Chronicles... traditionally acknowledged as being written by Ezra during the era of restoration:

  • Content: the positive history of Judah’s Kings with emphasis on the temple and its worship.
  • Historical Coverage: an opening genealogy goes back to Adam; the narrative itself covers the kingdom of Judah from David 1000 BC to the decree of Cyrus 539 BC.
  • Emphasis: There seems to be five consistent storylines being emphasized here. First, it’s the story of the people of Judah that includes both before, during and after exile. Secondly, it highlights David's and Solomon's covenant loyalty as models for the upcoming time of restoration! Thirdly, it emphasizes the central role of the temple and worship will play in Israel’s restoration. Fourthly, true worship is seen as a matter of the heart, not ritual! And lastly, there is divine blessings and rest for obedience and retribution for disobedience!
  • Purpose: to give the present generation a sense of continuity with its great past while focusing on the importance of having a right heart towards God! To see God’s people fully restored from their past failures, they must see and turn away from their sins and seek God’s forgiveness through priestly sacrifices. And then give themselves to worshipping God with a pure heart. Special Note one: The book of Kings focuses on the negative, sinful lifestyle that disqualified them from covenantal blessing, where the book of Chronicles focuses on the how they need to live to regain the blessings of covenant.
  • Special Note two: To some, the chronicler's presentation of David and Solomon may appear as a kind of whitewash job because it only focuses on the positive things they did, not the negative. But this is not true, the chronicler is fully aware that his readers are well informed of the faults of these kings, as explicitly laid out in the book of Kings! So, the chronicler main concern here is to highlight all their positive accomplishments in anticipation of inspiring hope for a new day.
  • Special Note Three: By this retelling of the story of God's people, the chronicler reminds us of the central role of worship! For the readers of the New Testament, these books prophetically point to the time when Jesus will "cleanse" and “rebuild” his temple through his death and resurrection!
  • Heb 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
  • 1 Cor 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;       you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

C.    Ezra and Nehemiah

  • Content: The rebuilding and reforming of God's people in the latter half of the fifth century BC.
  • Historic Coverage: From the first return in 539 BC to the end of the fifth century to 430 BC.
  • Emphasis: There are four main emphasis: First, the successful completion of the second Temple despite opposition! Secondly, the successful rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem despite opposition! Thirdly, the concern for covenant renewal and reform. And lastly, their need to protect their national identity by not intermarrying with the people around them!
  • Purpose: To make clear to God's people what is necessary for them to continue to experience covenant blessing. First, they must maintain purity that is found in keeping the commandments in the "book of law." Secondly, they needed to answer the question: who constitutes the true remnant of the people of God when it comes to continuity with the past? It is in this context that you can best understand the urgent concern over intermarriage which was their biggest threat as a community.


D.    Esther

  • Content: This is the story of God's providential preservation of Jews throughout the Persian Empire through Mordecai and his niece Esther
  • Historical coverage: Most of the story takes place during a single year, somewhere between 486-465 BC. Meaning that this transpired the generation before the events recorded in Ezra – Nehemiah!
  • Emphasis: God's providential care of the Jews during captivity.


As the story unfolds through these books; Our storyline breaks down into five separate phases:

I.   The zenith of God's kingdom.

II.  The kingdom divided.

III. The kingdom judged.

IV. God's people are taken captive and exiled.

V.  The restoration of God's people and the building of the second temple.

 Background: Remember what we just read in the book of Deuteronomy; that when Israel became unfaithful in its exclusives love and commitment to God, God would cause all the blessings that he was pouring out on them to stop because of their faithfulness. God did this to call them to repentance and have them return to him. But when they still did not turn back to him, then he allowed the curses of the covenant to fall on them in hope that this would cause their hearts to soften and then repent and return to him.


The main principle here: Whenever God disciplines his people, he does it to redeem and restore his people to himself.


I.     The zenith of God's kingdom

  • As we have seen in the past studies, it has always been God’s desire that the knowledge of his glory in creation would “cover the earth as the waters cover the sea” (Ex 14.21; Is 11.9; Hab 2.14).
  • His purpose in working with Israel was to manifest his glory in Israel, so one day it could be manifest in all peoples.
  • We are now in that part of biblical history where we are seeing the fulfillment of the promise that God gave to Abraham by covenant during the reign of David. Israel had become as numerous as the sands of the desert and had totally occupied the promise land to such an extent that all their enemies had been subdued, allowing all those who dwell in the land to experience unprecedented prosperity, peace and security!
  • This truly was the golden age of Israel! Solomon, David's son became the next reigning king after David. As we are going to see, he became the wisest, most prosperous King of all time. People literally came from all over the world to hear Solomon speak and to learn from his wisdom, thus fulfilling part of the promise made to Abraham, that his seed would be a blessing to all the nations.
  • In a very real sense, the reign of Solomon, becomes a type of Christ in his magnificent splendor!
  • And the very beginning of that splendor happened in a dream:
  • 1 Kings 3:4-15 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, "Ask for whatever you want me to give you." Solomon answered, "You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. 
  • "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?" 
  • The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
  • Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for-both riches and honor-so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life." Then Solomon awoke-and he realized it had been a dream.
  • What a great prayer and what a great way to start any ministry that God has called you into. Clearly God blessed him as seen in his very first test:
  • 1 Kings 3:16-4:1 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. One of them said, "My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us. 
  • "During the night this woman's son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast.
  • The next morning, I got up to nurse my son-and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn't the son I had borne."  The other woman said, "No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours. “But the first one insisted, "No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine."
  • And so they argued before the king. The king said, "This one says, 'My son is alive and your son is dead,' while that one says, 'No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.'"  Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other." 
  • The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!" But the other said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!" Then the king gave his ruling: "Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother." 
  • When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.
  • What a great story and illustration of true wisdom. One of the earmarks of God’s wisdom is that it always reveals the true motivations of a person’s heart. Remember the story of Samuel choosing David from among his brothers to be king, while men look at the outside of man, God looks at a person’s heart!
  • After Solomon had been granted wisdom, wealth and power from the Lord and now that Israel was at rest from all it’s enemies, it was now time to build God a temple!  
  • Solomon quarried huge stone blocks for the walls and imported cedar from Lebanon for the interior, resulting in this magnificent temple. If you remember from our earlier studies about the unfolding revelation of God’s house, the cost to build this temple 20 years ago was estimated to be 9 billion dollars, meaning at today’s rate this would be at least 3 to 10 more times greater!
  • Thus, the Ark of the Covenant was given a permanent place of rest in the Most Holy Place and the glory of the Lord filled the temple precinct so powerfully that the priests could not stand up.
  • It is significant to note that in Solomon’s prayers during the dedication ceremony, he prayed that not only Israel’s needs would be met, but that foreigners from all over the world who had heard of the fame of God’s name would come to the temple to seek and find God!
  • In other words, Solomon asked God to allow Israel to function as the people of God for the world as she had originally been called in Exodus 19:6  “A treasured possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”.


This grand and glorious time was earmarked by five things…

1. Kingdom celebration and multiplication: 1 Kings 4:20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. Furthermore, Israel’s land occupation was the greatest since the promise was made to Abram in Genesis 15.


2. Kingdom prosperity: The glory of a king was measured by the size of his daily table—and Solomon’s was beyond                comprehension!

    a.      Each day his cooks used:

          (1) (185 bushels) of fine flour

          (2) (375 bushels) of meal

          (3) Ten head of stall-fed cattle

          (4) Twenty head of pasture-fed cattle

          (5) A hundred sheep and goats

          (6) Deer, gazelles, roebucks, and choice fowl

    b.     Can you imagine how much firewood and water had to be carried? Can you imagine the dishes?

    c.      This is significant because one of the themes of the kingdom of God, is that kingdom is likened to a prosperous                    banquet thorough out Scripture. Remember the first miracle Jesus did? It was wedding at Canaan where he                          changed water into wine! And not just any wine, but the absolute best!

          -       Then there were those times Jesus fed both the Jews and the Gentiles supernaturally by multiplying the bread                     and the fish till everyone was full, and there were still leftovers!

          -       And then there is the sacrament of communion, which Jesus inaugurated in anticipation of the great banquet at                   the end of the age to celebrate the marriage between him and his bride (His people)!

          -       All these things and more point to the abundant and celebrative nature of God’s kingdom!


3. Kingdom peace: The text says that, 1 Kings 4:25“During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba              (from north to south), lived in safety, each man under his own vine and fig tree.” Peace became the norm of the day!


4. Kingdom life: Solomon was wiser than anyone who had ever lived since the fall of Humanity. It says his wisdom was “as      measureless as the sand of the seashore:’ Remember when we went through the book of proverbs? We saw that:

    a.      He created three thousand proverbs addressing every aspect of life that one could think of. He taught about                         parenting, marriage, friendships, dealing with emotions, the power of our words, finances, work ethics, community,               you name it! Add to that;

    b.     He wrote one thousand and five songs.

    c.      He was also an accomplished scientist showing skill with plants (botany), animals (zoology), birds (ornithology),                      reptiles (herpetology) and fish (ichthyologist).

    d.     Implying that the wisdom of God drew Solomon into the sciences. Some people think that to become a Christian,                  one needs to leave their brain at the door, but that could not be further from the truth! Reality is this: God’s kingdom              life embraces life in its entirety!    


5. Kingdom mission: God wanted to reach the world through Israel. And this is clearly illustrated with the story of the Queen of Sheba:

  •  1 Kings 10:1-9 When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan-with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones-she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.  
  •  Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed. 
  • She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.
  • How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."
  • Thus, we have the Gentiles finding God through the witness of the Jews. This was her destiny and her privilege. She was fulfilling her vocation even as Solomon had prayed!


II.     The kingdom divided

  • But, alas, Solomon was of the seed of Adam and a sinner. Just as all the other types of Christ we have seen, Solomon in all his splendor fell short and disobeyed the covenant that God had made with him.
  • This next portion is meant to be a shock to us. After all, he is the wisest, most powerful, rich beyond comprehension, king of all time, serving and bring Glory to God! But then we read this:
  • 1 Kings 11:1-6 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh's daughter-Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, "You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods."
  • Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
  • He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.
  • What is the lesson here? Clearly, no matter how wise we are or how successful we are, none of us is beyond falling into sin!
  • 1 Cor 10:12 Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence.
  • Point being humility is our greatest safeguard against falling prey to our pride! So often for those who experience success, the idea begins to creep into their thinking that somehow what applies to everyone else no longer applies to them. Somehow, they feel excluded from walking in the light of God’s righteousness as everyone else is.
  • Just as a side note here, Solomon’s fall was more than just his failure in allowing his foreign wives to lead him into idolatry. He also failed on two other accounts!
  • First, Solomon continued in the ways of his father David, concerning continued forced labor policies which subjugated peoples outside of Israel into slavery. This created a fear in people towards Israel, as well as communicated something other than what God wanted to communicate to the world.
  • Clearly God’s word conveys Gods desire to set us free from slavery, not bring us into slavery.
  • Secondly, Solomon continued to build an aggressive army as seen in his accumulation of chariots. Israel lived in the hill country where chariots were useless. The only reason to accumulate chariots was for offensive war on the plains. This gave the people of the world the wrong impression. God’s people were not to be perceived as a threat but, rather, as the bearers of peace and special revelation.
  • All these things led to Solomon’s fall!
  • 1 Kings 11:9-13 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command. So the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.
  • Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen."

 What was the basic outcome of Solomon's pride and spiritual apostasy?

  • A church split that resulted in causing the whole nation to fall into spiritual apostasy! Human pride will always lead people into division and apostasy.
  • 10 of Israel’s tribes joined together to become the northern kingdom, while two tribes, Benjamin and Judah joined to become the southern kingdom. Southern kingdom chose to remain loyal to the bloodline of David, while the northern kingdom sought to do their own thing.

 How the Northern Kingdom got off track right away!

  • Jeroboam, Israel's first king, decided that his first problem that he had to contend with was where would God's people worship? So, he set up a false religion. He created something remarkably close to the law that God gave them, but it was not the same. He joined their religion with practices they had picked up coming out of Egypt.
  • This false system had two effects. First, a lot of people immediately fled to Judah, the ones who knew this was wrong, which of course left those who didn’t think it was wrong!
  • Secondly, with the exodus of all these people who hungered for righteousness, the character of the Northern Kingdom was impacted! They began to reflect more the moral character of the world around them, than God’s. They lost sight of one on God’s original purposes for creating humanity, which was to reflect the image of God!
  • This resulted in each of the succeeding kings to continue in the pattern of Jeroboam's sin. In other words, each king sowed evil, which led to evil increasing.

In summary, Israel only had 20 King's during its brief existence, representing nine different dynasties. Out of these 19 King's, only eight died of natural death. Seven were assassinated, one committed suicide, one was killed in battle, one died from injuries after a fall And the last King disappeared into captivity. No wonder with this kind of leadership that the practice of idolatry abounded.