2 Kings 15:1–17:5; Galatians 5:1–6:18; Proverbs 8:1–8
Those who do not learn from their mistakes are bound to repeat them. The OT people of God, divided into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, illustrate this is true. A brief outline summarizes decades of repetition.
In ISRAEL, Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done and made Israel sin. Shallum the son of Jabesh struck him down and reigned in his place. (2 Kings 15:8–10)
Shallum lasted one month. Menahem put him to death and reigned in his place. He is known for sacking the people of Tiphsah because they did not open it to him, and for ripping open all the women who were pregnant. He lasted ten years, but was also evil and “did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.” (2 Kings 15:13–18)
Mehahem’s son, Pekahiah then reigned two years, continuing in the sins of Jeroboam. Then Pekah the son of his captain, put him to death and reigned in his place for twenty years, doing evil with the same sins Jeroboam until Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured much of his land and carried the people captive to Assyria. (2 Kings 15:23–29)
Hoshea also reigned over Israel, doing “evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him.” The king of Assyria made him pay tribute, but found treachery in him, therefore put him in prison and invaded Israel, besieging Samaria for three years. (2 Kings 17:1–5)
In the meantime in JUDAH, Azariah, son of Amaziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord as his father had done, but the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. The Lord touched the king so he was a leper all his life while Jotham his son governed. (2 Kings 15:1–5)
Later, Jotham began to reign. He was twenty-five years old and ruled sixteen years, doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as his father had done, but the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places. (2 Kings 15:32–35)
Then his son Ahaz began to reign at twenty years of age, but “he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.” When the king of Syria and Pekah of Israel came to conquer him, they failed. Yet Ahaz sent silver and gold from the house of the Lord to the king of Assyria as protection money against Syria and Israel. (2 Kings 16:1-4, 7–8) He messed with the altar from the house of the Lord, part of the reasons for his downfall.
The records show that even the ‘good’ kings did not learn from past history. Solomon writes about wisdom and his words call out to those kings (and to us also): “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right . . . .” (Proverbs 8:4–6) Solomon was a wise man, but he did not follow his own advice!
Paul’s words to the Christians at Galatia also speak to the foolishness of abandoning wisdom: “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:7–9)
He also said, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself . . . . Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:3, 7)
Yet as I read this history and remember mine, I know that I am no better. Sin is a repetitious and forgetful enemy that pulls us away from wisdom and into trouble. This is why I need Jesus, my Savior.