This weekend I was able to attend the 22nd Annual Lutheran Lecture Series at Grace Lutheran (Wichita) and heard Rev. Brian Kachelmeier teach about Christ in the Old Testament. It was great and got me thinking. We should have a Bible study on the kingdoms of Israel!
To summarize the background:
8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince[b] over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. (2 Samuel 7:8-15).
While the Israelites hoped to see God fulfill all His promises, they turned to David and a succession of kings. Except, they were only united under David and Solomon. By the following generation, Israel divided into two nations with different kings, different priesthoods & places of worship, different alliances, etc. Whose kingdom would last forever? The kingdoms of Israel disagreed on that answer!
Israel, or the Northern Kingdom, looked great: large and prosperous. Vast temples and golden calves were built and adorned, and powerful men occupied the throne, often through military coups (if I remember correctly).
The history is under taught. Even more, however, this Northern Kingdom reflects so much about our natural selves! We want to believe our eyes, relax with wealth, and have God’s blessing without actually listening to Him.
The Southern Kingdom, also known as Judah or Judea (although Benjamin and the Levites also lived there), on the other hand, had hard times. Still, it retained God’s priesthood and God’s ordained worship. It retained descendants of David for more than three hundred years. It, too, wanted God’s blessing and varied between listening to His Word and not.
The North doesn’t want . . .
- the Word of God
- God’s ministry
- God’s worship
- God’s unity
- God’s fulfillment according to God’s will and timing
The South had the blessing of God. The South had to trust God’s Word that it was, indeed, blessed, and that God would bless through the line of David.
It is the South who trusts despite poverty and embodies waiting for God’s salvation. It is the South which accepts that weaker men are still part of God’s plans.
Essentially, the North rejected God’s poverty and provision in this present life. The North wanted might to make right and visible, immediate results rather than life by faith.
A Bible study on the kingdoms of Israel could have text teaching the history while allowing ample time to explore the rich works of 1 & 2 Kings and the prophets. After all, prophets sent to the Northern Kingdom preached against the Wordlessness, while prophets were only sent to Judah when the priests failed to teach the Word they already had.
Poverty and our struggles as we wait for God are very real! Things look and are against us! So why not use the two kingdoms to explore how God responds to us in mercy, again and again, according to His Word?
There are famines of God’s Word. We see it explicitly in the kingdoms of Israel. Let’s prepare resources that delve into one such famine that has already happened. Right?
(Please, anyone who tries to do this, include an explanation about the marriage texts between God and Israel. First He’s married to one Israel, then sisters, but it was the stupid kingdoms! He remained ever loyal and steadfast to His only Bride.)
Rev. Kachelmeier has a lot of neat things on the website, Redeemer Theological Academy. There are broadcast lectures, a series on Christ in the Old Testament, and other resources. It looks easy to navigate and every interesting!