Why the Bad News of 1–2 Kings is Good News for Us in 2020
How one of the most disastrous parts of the Bible speaks to us today.
I participate in an online YouVersion plan with approximately 120 friends from the church I serve. The plan guides us to read the whole Bible in two years. Currently, we find ourselves in 1–2 Kings.
The writer of 2 Kings holds nothing back, including the violence, betrayals, judgments, brokenness, and sins — not a book for the faint of heart. God’s people, the nation of Israel, time and time again failed to live up to their relationship with God.
Tim Mackie, in the BibleProject video overviewing 1–2 Kings, highlights the repeated themes of sin — idolatry, injustice, and covenant unfaithfulness (2 Kings 17).
Ultimately, the downfall of God’s people, the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, come at the hand of outside invaders bringing them to exile.
Often, when we get these sections of Scripture in the Old Testament, questions emerge about God’s character amid all the catastrophes. Our challenge then becomes trying to place ourselves in the original readers of these parts of Scripture. I have to remind myself — the Bible is written for us, not to us.
In this year’s reading of 1–2 Kings, I find myself listening more intently. It feels like the world around us has imploded with the pandemic, polarization, and an upcoming election. The writer of 1–2 Kings causes us to reflect on the idolatry, injustice, and our unfaithfulness to the truth of the gospel.
These grim parts of Scripture become a mirror to our hearts as individuals and the brokenness of the society around us. For most of us, part of this reading plan in YouVersion, we would rather talk about the New Testament passages with exhortations, teachings, and encouragements.
I find hope that the writers of Scripture do not gloss over or sugarcoat the depth of depravity in our world. They relate to the whiplash of 2020 when it seems like the bad news appears in droves.
You might be asking — what’s the good news of 1–2 Kings within 2020? We don’t live in 2020 without a connection to the greater story of Scripture.
Kaitlyn Schiess, in her book The Liturgy of Politics, says this, “There’s another way we read Scripture in community: reading with the historic community of the church.”
Trek through the Dark Ages, revolutions, wars, and even as recent as the crisis in America in 1968. The writers of Scripture anticipated our need for reminders. The need to see a world broken and corrupted by sin. The need for justice and grace. The ultimate need for a Savior.
Now, amid the darkness and bleakness of 2020, we can lament and grieve the sinfulness of our society. We also know that no darkness can ever overcome the light of Jesus. Like the prophets of 1–2 Kings, we need to hear voices challenging our blind spots while working towards the long obedience of peacemaking.
The bad news of 1–2 Kings ends with the exile of God’s people but points us to the hope of Jesus coming to redeem humankind.
When you find yourself amid the in-between of crises like 2020, you begin to ask the question, “How is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ shaping my heart and actions to love God and my neighbor?”
Perhaps, 1–2 Kings has more to say to us today. Never underestimate how the grimmest parts of the Bible can speak to you today.
Originally published at https://peterenglert.com.