Much of 2 Kings is an unfolding story of unfaithful Kings in Judah and Israel. How those Kings fought each other and foreign nations. Occasionally there are a few Kings that are like David. Hezekiah and Josiah are the only two that I can remember reading about. Hezekiah had the prophet Isaiah speaking truth to him. And Josiah discovers the Law of Moses in the temple and reforms Judah to follow the Lord’s commands. But even though these two great men followed God and devoted their lives to serving Him, the people of Israel continued to worship other Gods. Over and over this is the issue that God has with His people. I wonder had Israel’s sin been something else, would they have lost everything? God takes it very serious when He says to have no other gods before Him.
At the end of 2 Kings Israel had fallen to the Assyrians and then Judah falls to the hands of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Babylonians completely destroy the temple Solomon built and the walls around Jerusalem. They take all of the craftsmen and artists back to Babylon and leave only the poor in Judah. And this happens not because these nations were powerful but because God’s people turned away from Him and worshiped other gods.
2 Kings 17:13-20 makes all of this crystal clear.
Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.
But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.
They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.
Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land. But even the people of Judah refused to obey the commands of the Lord their God, for they followed the evil practices that Israel had introduced. The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel. He punished them by handing them over to their attackers until he had banished Israel from his presence.
This account is regarding Israel being taken into Assyria but it is the exact same reasons that God hands Judah over to the Babylonians just a few chapters later.
So the biggest lesson I have taken from 1 and 2 Kings is that God takes the sin of worshiping other gods very seriously. So seriously that He will cast out His people if they place anything above Him. God is a jealous God, and He alone deserves our worship. We should never forget this. If only Israel had truly kept Him as their one God, I wonder what history would look like? Would we still have a King of David in Jerusalem?