Thursday, February 24, 2005

Themes of the Divided Kingdom

the key to national success or failure

Under Saul, David and Solomon -- her first three kings -- Israel was a "united kingdom". From then on it was a divided kingdom: "Israel" -- the always apostate ten tribes who were carried away by Assyria in about 720 BCE and "Judah" -- which remained loyal to David's descendants, some good, some bad, which fell to Babylon in about 586 BCE.

Most of the history of the divided kingdom centers on response to the Enemy. The unlearned lesson seems to be: “worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies” (2 Kings 17:39).

What leaps out is the responses of the kingdoms to:

The life-giving influence of godly leadership – bringing God’s help and favor.

or

The destructive influence of leadership compromised – one way or another -- with counterfeit religion and its adherents – bringing God’s wrath.

The quality of leadership seems absolutely key to the fate of the nation. Over and over “your guides…turn you from the path” (Isaiah 3:12). On the other hand, godly leaders turn people back to the Way.

Often one king exemplifies both sorts of leadership -- such as Jehoshaphat or Joash or Jehu or even Manasseh.

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