The Capture and Captivity of Israel (2 Kings 17:1 – 3; 2 Chronicles 28)

Hoshea became king in Israel after Pekah, and reigned nine years.  He did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not to the degree of the kings before him.  Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him, and forced Hoshea to be his vassal, paying tribute regularly.  Hoshea sent word to So, king of Egypt, to help Israel, and refused to pay tribute money to Shalmaneser any longer.  Hoshea was put in prison, and Assyria besieged Israel in Samaria.  In three years, all of Israel was taken to Assyria as captives.  The people had sinned against God for years.  God had delivered them from Egypt’s bondage and idolatry, but they had been guilty of their own idolatry.  They built high places to offer unto other gods.  The set up sacred pillars and wooden images.  During these times of idolatry, God had sent his prophets and warned them of things to come, of judgement and trouble.  They continued, adopting the gods of the nations around them.  They worshiped golden images and two calves, a wooden image, the hosts of heaven, and Baal.  They passed their children through the fire to Molech, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil.  They followed the leadership and example of Jeroboam, their evil king after the split from Judah.  The Lord rejected Israel, afflicted them, and delivered into the hands of plunderers.  They would not return to their land right away.

The determined idolatry and sin of Israel led to their bondage.  In spite of repeated warnings, they dabbled, then danced with the gods of this world.  I am often amazed at how Israel could see the hand of God work in their nation, and then decide to worship another god. No one could replicate the powerful works of God, yet others were allowed to displace Him.  Another thing that jumps off the page is the mercy of God in giving them decades to repent and stop their idolatry, constantly sending messengers of God’s impending judgement, but allowing them time to change.  A final thought, sobering and chilling, is the eventual judgement of a holy God upon His people.  Although His mercy is everlasting, His tolerance of Israel’s sin had a limit.  Israel was–in essence–taunting God with their sin.  The rope eventually ran out, and Israel was judged.  There are many applications that can be made here.  While God’s word in timeless, and I really do not want to pigeon hole this blog, it is so very applicable in the world in which we live to see a parallel with Israel.  The Unites States, especially, has been blessed of God, and has been very Christian in its beliefs and moral system.  However, for the last sixty years the US has been systematically chiseling away at the moral laws of God as a nation, and we find ourselves bowing at the altar of culture.  The hot button issues of today are dominating the headlines, and their is a war of culture going on in America.  Christians are considered the enemy, and fringe groups shout loudly in favor of their sinful lifestyles and actions.  I hear the voices of the prophets crying out to us even now and declaring the need for us to repent and turn out hearts back to God.  The word of God still stands, and is relevant for us today.  Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

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