During a conversation with a close friend, I accounted to him a struggle that I had been wrestling with. I explained to him that although I had been seeking to draw closer to God by my daily reading, I had been finding it hard to understand and get something from the second book of Kings in the Old Testament. Especially troubling to me was the account of the kings in the land and their incessant conquests and wars. It seemed to me as though I was doing the right thing by being persistent in reading and waiting for God to reveal truth to my heart, but yet it seemed like I had learned so little and remained unmoved.
As we discussed this, it became abundantly clear that we had found the weak link in the chain. Somewhere along the line of my reading, I had been misled by a fallacy that had robbed God of his glory and me of the joy of his presence. I had, in the comfort of my sinful nature, begun to read the book as though its ultimate purpose was to speak to me and the challenges that accompany my life. This has never been the point of the scriptures. The objective of the scriptures is to disclose to us the timeless truths of God in all of his glory, not to give us timely quotes that fit our circumstances.
This is why I didn’t like the second Book of Kings; I was nowhere to be found. There were not many good quotes and applicable verses to cheer me up. Instead, what I found were seemingly pointless wars and excessive bloodshed; nearly neglected prophets and people bent on worshipping idols. But these were not pointless because they did not stand on their own. These seemingly obsolete chapters were all meant to point me to the Lord who sits over them all. What I nearly missed with my eyes on myself was the majesty of God. Through this all, the Lord was proving himself faithful. Intertwined throughout the wars, the prophet, and the people was the faithfulness of God to his word. The author reminds us again and again in the book that the events took place, “according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel.” This is the profound truth that holds this book together and is meant to be the backdrop for all that takes place.
For a more holistic appreciation of what takes place in this book, we must look back into the history books of Genesis and Exodus. It is here we see God establishing promises to the forefathers of those who would live in the time of the Kings. Approximately four hundred years prior to the time of the Kings, the God of Israel spoke to Moses about the future land that Israel would live in. Recorded in Exodus 23 we find this promise from the Lord: “I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” It is in light of this promise where all the seemingly pointless wars and excessive bloodshed, nearly neglected prophets and sinful people are found to have purpose. It was through these times and the times to come that God was showing the people of Israel (and us) that not one of his promises are forgotten by him; they will all come to pass.
What is easily missed in the reading of the scriptures is the purpose for why they were written. We must take care that we read it through the proper lens by understanding who they are pointing to. It would be sheer robbery for us to assume that the meaning of a certain passage hinges on our circumstance and interpretation. This not only idolizes man by making him central, but also leaves us free to interpret the word of God to fit our current condition. Let us be careful to build on the right foundation, and be reminded that all scripture is given to praise and exalt the one who inspired it, not the one who is reading it.