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Bible study

Bible Study – Evil’s bitter end (2 Kings 17:6-7)

Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 16-17

Today’s Reflection: 2 Kings 17:6-7

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. 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

What is this text saying?

At the beginning of 2 Kings 17, the nation of Assyria laid siege to Israel.  In verse 6, Assyria succeeds in taking control of the northern kingdom.

Why is it important?

After many years in Canaan and many challenges by the surrounding nations, this text marks the beginning of the end of the ancient nation of Israel.  Though it would be restored to some degree as a country from this time forward it would always be under the yoke of a foreign and enemy regime.  The northern kingdom, Israel, fell under the oppression of Assyria in this text.  2 Kings 25 describes how years later, the southern Kingdom of Judah would also fall.

The text also indicates why Assyria succeeded against Israel: because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God.  Israel had been commanded to obey the Lord God only, and warned to put away all pagan gods and false forms of worship (Exodus 20:1-6).  But all throughout the books of the kings these familiar words are repeated to describe the actions of the rulers of Israel and Judah: ‘and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord’.  Though people individually had to make the decision to obey God or not, the leadership of most of the kings led them into sin, most notably the sin of idol worship.

How can I apply this?

The application of this text is simple: Know that God’s judgment WILL come.

Israel was cautioned in Deuteronomy 28 about both the blessings of obeying God and the curses of disobeying Him.  The people were instructed in the laws of God and agreed to follow Him, but time and time again they sinned against God and refused to conform to His ways.  Though the consequences were not always immediate, disobedience always brought about the tragic outcomes God had foretold: oppression, destruction, and exile from the promised land to name but a few.

When we look at our time, it’s hard not to notice that many of the world’s wealthiest and most successful people live lives that directly contradict the ways of God.  As a Christian you may wonder: why is someone living an illegal, unethical or immoral lifestyle enjoying a successful life?  The prophet Jeremiah wondered the same thing when he declared: Why does the way of the wicked prosper?  Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit (Jeremiah 12:1-2).

The Word tells us that God is merciful and slow to anger (Numbers 14:18).  Seeking that all might repent and live, God often gives people the opportunity to see and understand the error of their ways before visiting the consequences of their actions upon them (2 Peter 3:9).  This helps explain why we see so many people whose actions contradict God’s commandments, yet appear to be successful.  But the Word also makes it clear that the time will come when God will hold all people accountable for their actions, whether they be good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Hebrews 9:27 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.

Psalms 73:27 – For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

We should take care not to be envious of those who have the wealth of this world and who do not know God, for the pleasures of sin only last for a season (Hebrews 11:25) but the treasures, blessings and promises of God are eternal (Luke 12:33).

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