2 Kings 17:5–9a, 13–15, 18–20comment (0)
February 10, 2011
By Jay T. Robertson
Related Scripture: 2 Kings 17:5–9a, 13–15, 18–20
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Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
U-TURN HERE — AND NOW!
2 Kings 17:5–9a, 13–15, 18–20
“Payday Someday” (5–9a)
The end of the nation of Israel is told with remarkable brevity. We are not invited to watch the pain of its last moments, to see the terrors that must have fallen as a nation was dismembered and its people scattered among the nations. The depth of human suffering can only be imagined as families were torn apart and an entire culture and way of life were dismantled. The writer of 2 Kings spared us all that. The writer reported that Hoshea had ascended Israel’s throne in 732 B.C. He had secretly made an alliance with Egypt, prompting Assyria’s king to invade Israel. Shalmaneser imprisoned Hoshea and then ordered his troops to besiege Samaria, which managed to hold out for three years. Judgment day had come for Israel. The nation was destroyed because it had sinned against the Lord its God by worshiping false gods. They practiced pagan rituals while claiming to be God’s holy people. Israel’s most fundamental error all along had been covenant breaking, most clearly seen in its idolatry. The people worshiped local gods, adopted corrupt ethical practices and ignored the Lord’s prophets who were sent to warn them. By the time God executed His holy judgment, the rebellion was 200 years old. Christ followers today need to learn this truth: Their disobedience invites God’s discipline and judgment. There is a payday someday (Gal. 6:7). Living in rebellion against the Lord reaps the consequences of His judgment.
“Turn or Burn” (13–15)
Although God’s people were committing spiritual adultery against Him, He was merciful toward them. The people could not claim innocence or ignorance concerning God’s commandments because He had consistently sent His prophets to instruct, rebuke and call them to repent of their sins and return to Him. The prophets had commanded God’s people to turn from their evil ways and obey the commandments. The people, however, refused to listen to them. They loved their sin more than they loved God. They were stubborn (“stiff-necked”). They refused to take God seriously. They actually despised the commands, covenant and warnings He had lovingly given them. God continues to warn His people of their need to repent of their filthiness and rampant wickedness. We all wrestle with sin and have blind spots concerning our sin. May God enable us to hear His Word and humbly obey it with all of our hearts. God is warning us of our depravity. As Adrian Rogers, former pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn., used to say, “The only way you’ll ever live above sin is to live over a pool hall.” As we gaze at the cross of Jesus, we should be shocked by the severity of our sin and stunned by the grace of our God. Until you come to understand that the cross was something done by you, you will never appreciate that it was done for you. God, grant your people repentance and strengthen our love for you.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (18–20)
In spite of God’s warnings about His certain judgment, the Israelites continued in their rebellion and disobedience. Their sinful practices caused God to be very angry with them, especially the wicked practice of child sacrifice. One thing is certain: God always takes sin seriously. Unwilling to humble themselves and repent of their sins, God’s wrath was stirred up against them. He punished them by removing them from the promised land (“from His presence”). The people in the southern kingdom, Judah, should have learned from the sinful mistakes of the northern kingdom. The key words here are “should have.” Instead they followed the customs that Israel had introduced. Blinded by sin and driven along by a stiff-necked attitude, they continued down the broad road, which ultimately led to their destruction. God revealed His righteous anger and executed His sovereign judgment against Israel by causing the nation’s defeat and subsequent exile. The people’s disobedient behavior was sin against God and harmed their relationship with Him. Christ followers today should be motivated to repent when they grasp the seriousness of their sin and the glory of their God.