From 2 Kings 15-17
2 Ki 15.1-7; Azariah; Jeroboam; Azariah Reigns in Judah
2 Ki 15.8-12; Azariah; Zechariah; Zechariah Reigns in Israel
2 Ki 15.13-16; Uzziah; Shallum; Shallum Reigns in Israel
2 Ki 15.17-22; Azariah; Menahem; Menahem Reigns in Israel
2 Ki 15.23-26; Azariah; Pekahiah; Pekahiah Reigns in Israel
2 Ki 15.27-31; Azariah; Pekah; Pekah Reigns in Israel
2 Ki 15.32-38; Jotham; Pekah; Jotham Reigns in Judah
2 Ki 16.1-20; Ahaz; Pekah; Ahaz Reigns in Judah and desecrates the Temple
2 Ki 17.1-5; Ahaz; Hoshea; Hoshea Reigns in Israel
2 Ki 17.6; Ahaz; Hoshea; The Fall of Israel
2 Ki 17.24-41; Ahaz; Assyria Resettles Samaria
Passage and Comments
Several kings have come and gone since our last reading. Despite numerous warnings the sinful idolatry of Israel persisted until the LORD had to punish them.
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. (2 Ki 17.6)
One might remember yesterdays post where I quoted;
23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now. (2 Ki 13.23)
This has now happened. Todays post discusses the reasons given for why Israel was cast out of the LORD's presence.
7 And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. (2 Ki 17.7-8)
Note the initial reference to Israels exodus from Egypt. The event of salvation that called Israel as the LORD's son into being (Ex 4.22). Despite having delivered them, Israel did not remain true to what the LORD had done for them through their generations. It seems they adopted the customs of the nations they had driven out. These are religious customs. They were committing idolatry, worshipping foreign gods.
9 And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” (2 Ki 17.9-12)
These are the places of worship they constructed to worship other gods. If you've read the book you've probably noticed the repeated references to these places throughout. Instead Israel was meant to worship the LORD in the temple. The place the LORD God had chosen (Dt 12.14; 14.23-25; 16.2; 17.8; 23.16; 26.2; 31.11).
13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. (2 Ki 17.13-14)
The author describes Israel and her disobedient fathers as unbelieving. Faith or lack of faith is easy to see. Just look at the way people behave. Their idolatry revealed a deeper problem. One of unbelief.
15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.
The repeated assertions of Israels sinful behaviour hammers the nails into their coffin. There is little to no grace offered here. The reason is, the LORD has shown considerable grace to them in the past, has given them numerous warnings about their behaviour and still they have neglected to repent and turn to the LORD with all their heart. Consequently, the LORD has removed them out of his sight. An interesting expression considering the omniscience of the LORD. The expression suggests the LORD is primarily focussed on the faithful and on the promised land.
19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight. (2 Ki 17.19-20)
The condemnation turns to Judah. As we will see in the prophets writings, not least Ezekiel, Judah is not better than Israel. She is worse. Her time of exile still however awaits. The text refers to an extended process where the LORD was afflicting Israel. These minor punishments serve also as warnings that they may repent. When these afflictions failed to turn them around the LORD cast them out.
21 When he had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD and made them commit great sin. 22 The people of Israel walked in all the sins that Jeroboam did. They did not depart from them, 23 until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day. (2 Ki 17.21-23)
The rationale for the LORD's actions against Israel suggests the LORD had done everything possible to turn them around.
- After he delivered them from Egypt (described in Exodus) he;
- Instructed them to avoid the idolatry of the nations around them.
- When they rejected his command he did not immediately punish them.
- Instead he sent prophets to rebuke them and give them opportunity to repent and be forgiven.
- They rejected these prophets and the LORD continued to warn them by the preliminary covenant curses.
- After all these attempts by the LORD to turn them back to him over a few hundred years the LORD invoked the final covenant curse - exile. Booting them out of his presence and sight.
He had acted righteously according to the covenant despite their unfaithfulness (Dan 9.7-16, Neh 9.7-8,29-33).
Story of Israel
The sad fact about Israel’s exile is that they never fully recover. They are assimilated into Assyrian culture and are afterwards treated as half breed Jews. The New Testament calls them Samaritans. There is hope. But it is not the same kind return from exile Judah experienced.
Story of Jesus
They come back to the LORD through Jesus. Jesus at one stage speaks to a Samaritan woman describing their return to true worship of the Father.
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you [Jews-Judeans] say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You [Samaritans] worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a [Samaritan] woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. (Jn 4.19-31)
Israel was punished for her sin. But that wasn’t the end. Jesus the promised Christ came not only for the Jews, but also for Samaritans and all nations. That they may worship the Father in spirit and truth.