2 Kings Key People


Elisha

Few “replacements”in Scripture were as effective as Elisha, who was Elijah’s replacement as God’s prophet to Israel. But Elisha had a great example to follow in the prophet Elijah. He remained with Elijah until the last moments of his teacher’s life on earth. He was willing to follow and learn in order to gain power to do the work to which God had called him.

Both Elijah and Elisha concentrated their efforts on the particular need of the people around them. The fiery Elijah confronted and exposed idolatry, helping to create an atmosphere where people could freely and publicly worship God. Elisha then moved in to demonstrate God’s powerful, yet caring, nature to all who came to him for help. He spent less time in conflict with evil and more in compassionate care of people. The Bible records 18 encounters between Elisha and needy people.


Elisha saw more in life than most people because he recognized that with God there was more to life. He knew that all we are and have come to us from God. The miracles that occurred during Elisha’s ministry put people in touch with the personal and all-powerful God. Elijah would have been proud of his replacement’s work.


We, too, have great examples to follow - both people in Scripture and those who have positively influenced our lives. We must resist the tendency to think about the limitations that our family background or environment create for us. Instead, we should ask God to use us for his purpose - perhaps, like Elijah, to take a stand against great wrongs or, like Elisha, to show compassion for the daily needs of those around us. Ask him to use you as only he can.


Strengths and accomplishments

  • Was Elijah’s successor as a prophet of God

  • Had a ministry that lasted over 50 years

  • Had a major impact on four nations: Israel, Judah, Moab, and Aram

  • Was a man of integrity who did not try to enrich himself at others’ expense

  • Did many miracles to help those in need


Lessons from his life

  • In God’s eyes, one measure of greatness is the willingness to serve the poor as well as the powerful.

  • An effective replacement only learns from his master but also builds upon his master’s achievements


Vital statistics

  • Where: Prophesied to the northern kingdom       

  • Occupations: Farmer, prophet

  • Relative: Father: Shaphat

  • Contemporaries: Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel, Jehu


Key verse

  • “When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.’ ANd Elisha replied, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor” (2 Kings 2:9).


Elisha’s story is told in 1 Kings 19:16-2 Kings 13:20. He is also mentioned in Luke 4:27.



Jehu

Jehu had the basic qualities that could have made him a great success. From a human perspective, in fact, he was a successful king. His family ruled the northern kingdom longer than any other. He was used by God as an instrument of punishment to Ahab’s evil dynasty, and he fiercely attacked Baal worship. He came close to being God’s kind of king, but he recklessly went beyond God’s commands and failed to follow through on the obedient actions that began his reign. Within sight of victory, he settled for mediocrity.     

Jehu was a man of immediate action but without ultimate purpose. His kingdom moved, but its destination was unclear. He eliminated one form of idolatry, Baal worship, only to uphold another by continuing to worship the gold calves Jeroboam had set up. He could have accomplished much for God if he had been obedient to the one who made him king. Even when he was carrying out God’s directions, Jehu’s style showed he was not fully aware of who was directing him.


As he did with Jehu, God gives each person strengths and abilities that will find their greatest usefulness only under his control. Outside that control, however, they don’t accomplish what they could and often become tools for evil. One way to make sure hits does not happen is to tell God of your willingness to be under his control. With his presence in your life, your natural strengths and abilities will be used to their greatest potential for the greatest good.


Strengths and accomplishments

  • Took the throne from Ahab’s family and destroyed his evil influence

  • Founded the longest-lived dynasty of the northern kingdom

  • Was anointed by Elijah and confirmed by Elisha

  • Destroyed Baal worship


Weaknesses and mistakes

  • Had a reckless outlook of life that made him bold and prone to error

  • Worshiped Jeroboam’s gold calves

  • Was devoted to God only to the point that obedience served his own interests


Lessons from his life

  • Fierce commitment needs control because it can result in recklessness

  • Obedience involves both action and direction


Vital statistics

  • Where: The northern kingdom of Israel

  • Occupations: Commander in the army of Joram, king of Israel

  • Relatives: Grandfather: Nimshi. Father: Jehoshaphat. Son: Jehoahaz

  • Contemporaries: Elijah, Elisha, Ahab, Jezebel, Joram, Ahaziah


Key verse

  • “But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit” (2 Kings 10:31).



Hezekiah

The past is an important part of today’s actions and tomorrow’s plans. The people and kings of Judah had a rich past, filled with God’s action, guidance, and commands. But with each passing generation, they also had a growing list of tragedies that occurred when the people forgot  that their God, who had cared for them in the past, also cared about the present and the future - and demanded their continued obedience. Hezekiah was one of the new kings of Judah who was constantly aware of God’s acts in the past and his interest in the events of every day. The Bible describes him as a king who had a close relationship with God.


As a reformer, Hezekiah was most concerned with presents obedience. Judah was filled with visual reminders of the people’s lack of trust in God, and Hezekiah boldly cleaned house. Altars, idols, and pagan temples were destroyed. Even the bronze serpent Moses had made in the wilderness was not spared because it had ceased it had ceased to point the people to God and had also become and idol. The Temple in Jerusalem, whose doors had been nailed shut by Hezekiah’s own father, was cleaned out and reopened. The Passover was reisntituted as a national holiday, and there was revival in Judah.


Although he had natural inclination to respond to present problems, Hezekiah’s life shows little evidence of concern about the future. He took few actions to preserve the effects of his sweeping reforms. His successful efforts made him proud. His unwise display of wealth to the Babylonian delegation got Judah included on Babylon’s “Nations to Conquer” list. When Isaiah informed Hezekiah of the foolishness of his act, the king’s answer displayed his persistent lack of foresight - he was thankful that any evil consequences would be delayed until after he died. And the lives of three kings who followed him - Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah - were deeply affected by both Hezekiah’s accomplishments and his weaknesses.


The past affects your decisions and actions today, and these, in turn, affect the future.There are lessons to learn and errors to avoid repeating. Remember that part of the success of your past will be measured by what you do with it now and how you see it to prepare for the future.


Strengths and accomplishments

  • Was  the king of Judah who instigated civil and religious reforms

  • Had a personal, growing relationship with God

  • Developed a powerful prayer life

  • Noted as the patron of several chapters in the book of Proverbs (Proverbs 25:1)


Weaknesses and mistakes

  • Showed little interest or wisdom in planning for the future and protecting for others the spiritual heritage he enjoyed

  • Rashly showed all his wealth to messengers from Babylon


Lessons from his life

  • Sweeping reform are short-lived when little actions is taken to preserve them for the future        

  • Past obedience to God does not remove the possibility of present disobedience

  • Complete dependence on God yields amazing results


Vital statistics

  • Where: Jerusalem

  • Occupation: 13th king of Judah, the southern kingdom

  • Relatives: Father: Ahaz. Mother: Abijah. Son: Manasseh

  • Contemporaries: Isaiah, Hoshea, Micah, Sennacherib


Key verses

  • “Hezekiah trusted the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses” (2 Kings 18:5, 6)


Hezekiah’s story is told in 2 Kings 16:20-20:21; 2 Chronicles 28:27-32:33; Isaiah 36:1-39:8. He is also mentioned in Proverbs 25:1; Isaiah 1:1; Jeremiah 15:4; 26:18, 19; Hosea 1:1; Micah 1:1.   



Josiah

Josiah never knew his great-grandfather Hezekiah, but they were alike in many ways. Both had close, personal relationship with God. Both were passionate reformers, making valiant efforts to lead their people back to God.  Both were bright flashes of obedience to God among kings with darkened consciences who seemed bent on outdoing each other in disobedience and evil.


Although Josiah’s father and grandfather were exceptionally wicked, his life is an example of God’s willingness to provide ongoing guidance to those who set out to be obedient. At a young age, Josiah already understood that there was spiritual sickness in his land. Idols were sprouting in the countryside faster than crops. In a sense, Josiah began his search for God by destroying and cleaning up whatever he recognized as not belonging to the worship of the true God. In the process, God’s Word was rediscovered. The king’s intentions and the power of God’s written revelation were brought together.


As the Book of the Law was read to Josiah, he was shocked, frightened, and humbled. He realized what a great gap existed between his efforts to lead his people to God and God’s expectations for his chosen nation. He was overwhelmed by God’s holiness and immediately tried to expose his people to that holiness. The people did respond, but the Bible makes it clear that their renewed worship of God was much more out of respect for Josiah than out of personal understanding of their own guilt before God.


How would you describe your relationship with God? Are you feeble efforts at holiness based mostly on a desire to “go along” with a well-liked leader or popular opinion? Or are you, like Josiah, deeply humbled by God’s Word, realizing the great gap between your life and the kind of life God expects, and realizing your deep need to be cleansed and renewed by him? Humble obedience pleases God. Good intentions, even reforms, are not enough. You must allow God’s Word to truly humble you and change your life.


Strengths and accomplishments

  • Was king of Judah

  • Sought after God and was open to him

  • Was a reformer like his great-grandfather Hezekiah

  • Cleaned out the Temple and revived obedience to God’s law


Weakness and mistake

  • Became involved in a military conflict that he had been warned against


Lessons from his life

  • God consistently responds to those with repentant and humble hearts

  • Even sweeping outward reforms are of little lasting value it there are no changes in people’s lives


Vital statistics  

  • Where: Jerusalem

  • Occupation: 16th king of Judah, the southern kingdom

  • Relatives: Father: Amon. Mother: Jedidah. Son: Jehoahaz

  • Contemporaries: Jeremiah, Huldah, Milkiah, Zephaniah    


Key verse

  • “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since” (2 Kings 23:25)


Josiah’s story is told in 2 Kings 21:24-23:30; 2 Chronicles 33:25-35:27. He is also mentioned in Jeremiah 1:1-3; 22:11, 18.