2 Kings 17 part 10

 

In tonightís lesson we will learn about the last king of Israel and their down fall as they are defeated and taken into Assyrian captivity around 722 B.C.

 

2 Kings 17:1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years.2 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him.3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money.

 

Once again we see the familiar phrase that applies to all of the kings of Israel, ďhe did evil in the sight of the LordĒ. However, we learn that Hoshea wasnít as evil as the kings before him. We are not given any details of this however Jewish tradition tells us "That Hoshea removed the guards set on the road to Jerusalem to keep Israelites from going there to worship." So, according to this tradition the king before did their best to keep the people of Israel from ever going to Jerusalem to worship God as He commanded.

 

Last week we learned that the Assyrians had already taken some of Israel captive under the reign of Pekah and now the Assyrians were oppressing the northern tribe even more and to keep them from taken over Israel Hoshea had to make himself a vassal of Assyria, which means a servant or slave. This is what Israel had been reduced to and Hoshea did not like this one bit, so he decides to do something about it.

 

2 Kings 17:4 And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.5 Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years.6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

 

Hoshea was tired of being a slave and paying the Assyrians off so, he tried to strike a deal with the king of Egypt and implied by our verse he took the money that he would have gave to the Asyrians and was going to give it to the king of Egypt if he would help them overcome the Assyrians. However, the king of Assyria found out about this plot and he retaliates. He locks Hoshea up and makes his way the northern kingdom killing and taken captive it people. The greatest battle happens at Samaria. This was capital of Israel and therefore it was the most fortified and most difficult place to defeat. This is why it took Assyria 3 years to defeat this capital. Once he did, he captured these people and relocated them in small groups throughout different areas.

 

Historians tell us this was tactical strategy of the Assyrians. When they would defeat a nation, they would divide them up with other nations so they would lose their identity, which would make them less of threat in the future. Now in our next verses we are given a basic summary of why God is allowing this northern kingdom to be done away with.

 

2 Kings 17:7 For so it was that the children 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 they had feared other gods,8 and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the LORD had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.9 Also the children of Israel secretly did against the LORD their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city.10 They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree.11 There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the LORD had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger,12 for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing."13 Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets."14 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.15 And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them.16 So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.17 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.

 

There is great lesson to be learned here by Judah and by us today. The Northern kingdom began under the rein of Jeroboam around 930 B.C. who started this new nation off on the wrong foot because he created false Gods for the people to worship and he had no right to do that. Then every king following him, followed in his footsteps and did not worship God as He had commanded. Some were worse than other, but all of them did evil in the sight of the Lord. Now, around 208 years after this nation was started it is not being destroyed because it did not serve the Lord. Godís mercy and His grace have a limit and Israel has found that out the hard way.

 

While we can see that God mercy and grace has a limit at the same time we can see just how merciful He is because He put up with their wickedness for over 200 years before He allowed them to completely destroyed. We can see how loving He was because He did everything He could to get them to choose to turn back to Him. He sent prophets to them warning them to turn away from their sinful path, but they were unwilling to do this.

 

Instead, they chose to worship the false way and engage in all kinds of sinful activities that were associated with the worship of these false gods. Now, I mentioned last week that King Ahaz is the first recorded Israelite that offered his son up to Molek by sending him into the fire. However, verse 17 indicates that the northern tribe had started doing this as well. We are not given a specific date of when they did it, but it possible that they were doing this even before King Ahaz did. Due to the continuous evil practices, notice again what verse,

 

18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.

 

The main lesson that Judah and we today should learn from this is that God is longsuffering toward us and He wants all of us to repent and turn to Him, but His longsuffering will not last forever and all those who oppose Him will suffer His wrath because He is a just God. This is certainly a great lesson for the denominations to learn today. In many ways they are like the northern kingdom of Israel. Now, granted most of them are not trying to serve false God and none of them are offering their children of up for sacrifice, but in sense they following the same path because they have chosen to do things their own way. They have added and taken away from the Word of God and therefore they are not worshiping God in spirit and in truth. So, in this sense they are exactly like the Northern kingdom of Israel because on one hand they acknowledge the God of the Bible, but on the other hand they want to do things their way.

 

When we get to the point where our way overrides Godís way then we are following the false way and God is not going to be pleased with us. Let me give you one more example that will drive point home.

 

Nadab and Abihu were Aaronís sons and they were official priests for the Lord. They knew exactly what God had commanded, but for whatever reason they decided to do things there way.

 

Leviticus 10:1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

 

Of course many other examples could be given, but this clearly shows us that God means what He says and that He will not tolerate those who try to do things there way. When people add or take away from Godís will they are making themselves out to be better than God and when they say things like, ďOh, Godís grace will cover it all,Ē they are sadly mistaken. So, as Christians today we must always remember the mercy and the severity of God.

 

2 Kings 17:19 Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.

 

Now, Judah should have learned from the mistake of Israel, but in the end they did not this is why in another 136 years Judah will be taken into Babylonian captivity as well. Now our next few verses once again summarizes what happened to Israel.

 

2 Kings 17:20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight.21  For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin.22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them,23 until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.

Next we learn more about what the Assyrians do to those they captured.

 

2 Kings 17:24 Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, (koo-thuh) Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, (seh-fur-vay-uhm) and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.

 

Again this was the tactic of the Assyrians they would put these different nations together so that they would intermarry and lose their identity. As we learned in our Wednesday night class not all of the Israel was taken away. It was the general practice of most conquers to keep some of the children and some of the workers of the field there. Also there were those who avoided being captured. These people of Israel and these other nations would mingle together and these new peoples of mixed blood became known as the Samaritans. This event wiped out the 10 tribes of Israel in the sense that they would never become a nation again. While we donít know a great deal of where these 10 tribes ended up through history the Bible does give us some clues. First we know that part of them made up the Samaritans. We also learn in 2 Chr. 30:6-12 that some of them avoided being captured and some of them rejoined the southern kingdom at King Hezekiahís request.

 

It is also believed that when the Babylonians took over the Assyrians that they would have still had some of these Jews from the northern kingdom as captives. Then when Persia defeated the Babylonians and then let the Jews return back to their land many believe that part of the 10 tribes rejoined themselves with the two tribes of Judah. This thought comes from the reference made in,

 

Ezra 6:17 And they offered sacrifices at the dedication of this house of God, one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.

 

Notice, they made a sin offering for all 12 tribes. We also learn that some of those belonging to the northern kingdom could trace their lineage back to their particular tribe. We have an example of this in,

 

Luke 2:36 ††Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

 

As for the majority of the 10 tribes most of them were scattered through out the land as God said would happen to the Jews if they did not obey Him.

 

Deuteronomy 28:64 Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known -- wood and stone.65 "And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.66 "Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life.

 

It is possible that I have missed some other reference, but as far as I know these are the only ones that give us any clues about what happened to the 10 tribes of Israel.

 

2 Kings 17:25 And it was so, at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them.26 So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land."27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land."28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

 

Once these new people had settled in the land they did not fear God so, he sent lions to kill some of them. These people knew that it must have been the Israel God. We need keep in mind that Pagans of that day believed that different regions had different godís and in their minds they considered the God of Israel as just one of the many gods out there. So, they were willing to find out what they needed to do to appease God almighty. However, the problem was they were sent a priest from the corrupt kingdom of Israel. He would be able to share some important information about God, but he would not teach them everything they needed to know especially that God almighty is the only God.

 

2 Kings 17:29 However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the shrines on the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt.30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima,31 and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites (she-fur-vites) burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. (seh-fur-vay-uhm) ††32 So they feared the LORD, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places.33 They feared the LORD, yet served their own gods -- according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.

 

This proves what I just told you. These pagan people feared the Lord now, but they didnít fear him alone because they also wanted to worship these different Godís they were familiar with from where the came from. They even burned their children in fire. Also verse 29 is where we see these newly formed people are called Samaritans. Now, lets read the conclusion.

 

2 Kings 17:34 To this day they continue practicing the former rituals; they do not fear the LORD, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances, or the law and commandment which the LORD had commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel,35 with whom the LORD had made a covenant and charged them, saying: "You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them;36 "but the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice.37 "And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods.38 "And the covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods.39 "But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies."40 However they did not obey, but they followed their former rituals.41  So these nations feared the LORD, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children's children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day.

 

For a long time these Samaritans continued worshiping God on one hand and then worshiping these false God on the hand. However, sometime between then and the first century the Samaritans stopped worshipping false Godís and they worshipped God almighty alone and they had their own version Torah or first 5 books of the Bible and that was their doctrine. They didnít consider any of the books of the O.T. as being the Word of God. ††