All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods – 2Kgs. 17:7 NIV
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Since the reign of Jeroboam who was the first king of Israel, after the split of the kingdom under the leadership of Rehoboam who succeeded his father King Solomon as king over the united Israel, the people and their successive kings have remained idolatrous in their worship which is a way if life that he introduced them to – 1Kgs. 12:1-24; 2Kgs. 17:21-23. He had taken that action then because of his fear that the people on the excuse that they were going to Jerusalem to worship, may actually return to Judah and serve king Rehoboam. He therefore set up idols for the people and appointed Priests to serve at those Altars, thus introducing the people to an act that made them incur the anger of the Lord on several occasions – 1Kgs. 12:25-33.
After so many cycles of sin-penalty-repentance-forgiveness-restoration and back to sin, the Almighty God in what seemed like he had had enough of their flip-flop, decided to hand them over to Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria who invaded Samaria, the Capital city of the Northern kingdom during the reign of Hoshea – 2Kgs. 17:18-20. Although he was also recorded to have done evil in the eyes of the Lord during the nine years that he reigned , like the kings that preceded him, he was not as bad as they were, but then their cup of evil was full and they had exhausted their opportunities with the Lord who decided that they be taken away in captivity – 2Kgs. 17:1-2.
In what seemed like the activation of a spiritual decision, King Hoshea who had agreed to be a vassal to Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, suddenly decided to renege on his agreement to pay yearly tribute, and chose rather to approach So, king of Egypt for help to fight Shalmaneser, an act which the latter deemed as treacherous and decided to invade Samaria. He eventually over ran Samaria after laying a siege around it for three years – 2Kgs. 17:3-6. He defeated the army of Israel, imprisoned their king, deported and settled all the people who were in Samaria to some of the cities of Assyria and replaced them with some origins of Babylon and other cities.
Although, Shalmaneser would think that it was his military capabilities that earned him victory, just as the Israelites of the Northern kingdom may think that their defeat was due to their inferior military capabilities in comparison to the Assyrians, the truth behind their defeat was in the decision of Jehovah to allow the Assyrians implement His decision to punish the Israelites with a period of captivity in exile. The reason for this decision was because of their several sins against the Lord (2Kgs. 17:7), which many Christians today are also guilty of, some of which are listed below;
- They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced – 2Kgs. 17:8. Christians today need to know that worshipping Jehovah cannot be verbal only but by actions also. The one who claims to be a worshipper of Jehovah must conduct activities using divine standards. Most Christians are also very good at criticizing their leaders and predecessors but turn out to be worse when they are in charge. This is mostly because they see some pecuniary advantages in some of the activities of their predecessors, which they also desire to enjoy, and added to their own selfish intentions that they have carried along, they choose to continue with the ungodly activities of their predecessors. The result is a leadership that is worse than even that of non-Christians and one that brings the image of God into disrepute. Whether in spiritual environment or in the secular world, Christians must realize that they are being assessed by a divine standard which is known to even unbelievers, who will be quick to ridicule the name of the Lord once those standards are not met. Such an act will not honour Jehovah and He will definitely punish it, whether it was done within the spiritual or secular environment.
- The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right – 2Kgs. 17:9a. The bible says righteousness is doing right which is simply doing all that Jehovah prescribes – 1Jn. 3:7. The one who is not doing what Jehovah prescribed cannot claim to be righteous. Just like the Israelites of the Northern kingdom, the Christian today is also guilty of doing the following against the Lord;
- From watchtower to fortified city the Israelites built themselves high places in all their towns – 2Kgs. 17:9b. They were simply not contented or convinced with the security assurances of Jehovah and so created additional sources of protection, supposedly to guarantee them victory over challenging situations. The Christian that cannot have faith in the ability of Jehovah to provide protection should expect the anger of the Lord. The test of the faith of the Christian is the willingness of such to retain belief in Jehovah irrespective of the challenge, as Jehovah never fails and He will never arrive late – Jms. 1:2-8. Remain faithful because He will never disappoint – Exo. 14:13-14; 2Chr. 20:15, 20.
From generation to generation, Jehovah has not ceased to make it clear that he will not accommodate the act of idolatry and spiritual adultery just as he will not be happy if the Christians cannot entrust their security into his hands. He will continue to frown at such acts on the part of man and will punish it at some point so anyone who does not wish to experience his anger must avoid all such acts. The other reasons for Jehovah’s decision to allow the Israelites to be taken into captivity in exile will be discussed in the subsequent parts of this Devotional. May we not find ourselves rejected by Jehovah in Jesus name. Amen.