Preaching Pointers from 2 Kings

 |  July 29, 2017

When I began preaching at eighteen years old one of the early lessons I learned regarding sermon preparation and the mechanics of preaching was understanding the presence of different genres of literature in Scripture and their impact on preaching. When immature in ministry the young preacher can be fooled into approaching study and preaching of the Bible in the same, cookie-cutter fashion without allowing the text itself to dictate meaning and proclamation. The genre of literature will directly inform the understanding and the preaching of the Biblical text.

As time progressed I soon discovered my personal preferences in preaching different genres of Scripture. I am most comfortable preaching the letters and most uncomfortable preaching narratives. This of course, presents a problem because most of the Bible is narrative, especially in the Old Testament. The book of 2 Kings for example, is entirely a historical narrative. For someone wired as I am, there may exist the temptation to avoid preaching narrative literature like 2 Kings in favor of other portions of God’s Word. However, if the preacher is to be faithful to the whole counsel of God’s Word then it is necessary to strive to preach all of it, not just the portions he is comfortable with. With that in mind, a cursory study of the narrative of 2 Kings quickly reveals the immense value of preaching such texts. At least four factors warrant and compel preaching narratives like 2 Kings.

You should preach 2 Kings because it proclaims…

  1. The power of God…

2 Kings is a book of miracles. Elijah called fire down on soldiers. Elisha purified water, provided a miraculous amount of oil for a widow, raised the dead, healed a leper, and caused an ax-head to float, among other miracles. Additionally, there are occasions when God displays His power of deliverance, such as for King Hezekiah when God protected Judah from the Assyrian invasion. These miracles are meant to teach to us that God is the God of the impossible. He is sovereign, omnipotent and capable of doing anything that He desires to do. The application of such truths is immensely valuable in preaching. The preacher can show his congregation that the God who performed miracles through Elijah, Elisha, other prophets and nations is able to move and work in their lives miraculously if needed, for His plans, purposes and glory.

  1. The judgment of God…

Israel and Judah each had twenty kings. Every one of Israel’s kings were wicked and twelve of Judah’s kings were wicked. Of the eight good kings in Judah, two them (Joash and Amaziah) would eventually turn to wickedness in their old age. “And he did evil in the sight of the Lord” is a phrase often used to describe these kings. Idolatry, immorality and spiritual lethargy were prevalent sins among the kings and the people. From the beginning of the narrative 2 Kings is the tale of the people of God moving progressively further away from God and deeper into sin. Sin warrants the judgment of God and therefore oppression, slavery, war and death comes as the Lord’s judgment. God’s ultimate judgment is revealed in the accounts of captivity, a judgment that would serve as a defining mark in the life of the Jewish people for centuries. Israel is conquered and carried to Assyria with no return (Ch. 17); and roughly a century and a half later Judah is conquered and led to Babylon with a return after seventy years (Ch. 24-25).

Preaching the narratives of 2 Kings will provide a deep well of resources for the preacher to show his congregation the dangers of sin. The text itself is the basis to plead with people to learn from the failures of Israel and Judah. Numbers 32:23 says, “be sure your sin will find you out.” The entire text of 2 Kings is an illustration of that Scriptural truth. Sin warrants God’s judgment.

  1. The grace of God…

In contrast to judgment, 2 Kings also portrays the beauty of God’s grace. The provision of oil for the widow, raising the Shunamite woman’s son from the dead, the healing of Naaman’s leprosy and the deliverance of Judah from Sennacherib are just a few. Notably, the book ends with an eye towards a hopeful future. The Babylonian king shows grace towards David’s descendant Jehoiachin, Judah’s captive king. Chapter 25:28 says, “He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a more prominent seat…” Preaching 2 Kings can help your congregation to see that God is gracious, even in judgment and that the hope of redemption is ours because of the grace of God.

  1. The plan of God…

2 Kings lends itself handily to the New Testament. Elijah the prophet appears in the first two chapters and his successor, Elisha is prominent in the chapters that follow. The gospel of Matthew draws parallels between these two prophets and John the Baptist and Jesus. Matthew 11:14 and 17:12 both proclaim that John the Baptist is “Elijah who is to come.” Elisha succeeds Elijah with a double portion of his predecessor’s anointing. He gave sight to the blind (2 Kings 6:18-20), healed leprosy (ch.5), raised the dead (4:32-37; 8:4-5; 13:21) and preached good news to the poor (6:1-7; 7:1-2; 8:6). In similar fashion when Jesus succeeded John the Baptist He overshadowed His predecessor’s ministry. When John’s disciples came to Jesus and questioned, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another (Matt. 11:3)?” Jesus replied to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Matt. 11:4-5).” Elisha and Jesus provide a striking comparison. 2 Kings is a marvelous platform that connects to the New Testament and allows the preacher to show his congregation not only the validity for studying Old Testament narrative, but also its connection to the Gospel.

When you preach step out of your comfort zone; preach every part of God’s Word. Don’t limit the impact of your ministry by confining your preaching to the areas that only fit your personality when such a wealth of life changing truth is present in texts like the narrative of 2 Kings.

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