THE FALL OF ISRAEL
2 Kings 17
Treachery And Exile
Hoshea was king of Israel, and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord just as those who had come before him, but it was not the equivalent of what the previous kings had done. Hoshea attempted to regain Israel's independence after the death of Tiglath-pileser by withholding tribute. The new king, Shalmaneser was not about to have any of his vassals break rank, and so he used military force to compel Hoshea to resume his position as a vassal state. Hoshea attempted to extricate himself from the grip of Assyria through other means. He entered an alliance with King So of Egypt and attempted to withhold tribute from Shalmaneser again. This act of rebellion was met with decisively as Assyrian besieged Samaria for three years. Samaria held out as long as it could, awaiting the promised assistance from Egypt. Finally, Samaria was captured, and many Israelites were carried away into exile. The Assyrian records speak of 27,290 persons who were carried captive from Samaria. These captives were taken and distributed in the distant eastern provinces of the Assyrian empire.
Sin is costly, and this passage describes the circumstances and events that led to Israel's exile. God had delivered his people from Egypt, but they had taken up the worship of other gods. In secret, the people did things that were not right and built high places throughout the land. These idolatrous practices were a direct violation of the Lord's commands. God graciously continued to warn his people through prophets and seers. Israel would not listen, and the people were stubborn just as the ancestors were in the wilderness. They despised the Lord, ignored his warnings, and abandoned the Lord their God. The people of Israel practiced idolatry, used divination, and burned their sons and daughters until the Lord was provoked to anger. When the cup of sin was full, God’s wrath was poured out on Israel, and he removed them out of his sight until only Judah was left. Judah would soon fall as well for they too sinned against the Lord. God rejected the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and cast them out.
The foreign colonists were ignorant of the Lord and his commands, and they failed to obey the Lord. As a result, the Lord sent a plague of lions, and some of the colonists lost their lives until the situation became a matter of grave concern. Word spread to the Assyrian king along with the suggestion that the colonists needed to learn the laws of the God of Israel. The king then ordered one of the priests to return to Samaria and teach the settlers. Those who had settled in the region of Samaria were polytheists, and they continued to worship their native deities which included offering up their children as sacrifices to their gods. These new inhabitants feared the Lord, but they also served their own gods, and the Lord will not allow the worship of any false god. All worship belonged exclusively to God who had brought these people out of the land of their bondage. God’s promise of deliverance and protection for Israel was conditioned upon their faithfulness to him, and yet all the warnings about recognizing other gods were ignored by the colonists in Samaria. The sinful patterns of the people continued generation after generation.
Things To Consider:
- What does this teach us about God's judgment on sin?
- Why is idolatry an issue?
- What are idols do we embrace today?
- Why do you think established sinful patterns repeat across generations?
- Why do we sin in secret?
- Why does God get angry?
- Why won't God allow the worship of anything else?
- How does God warn us about sin today?
- Why does God show such mercy?
- Why is it important to remember that everyone will face judgment?