- 2 Kings 17:3-5; 18:9-11; 17:7-41; 18:7b-8
Today we read of the end of the northern tribes of Israel in 723 B.C. GOD had given the people numerous opportunities to return to Him and save themselves, but they refused to repent. As a result, Shalmaneser king of Assyria attacked king Hoshea and all of Samaria for three years. Hoshea was put in prison. Shalmaneser took the Israelites prisoner and relocated them to the towns of the Medes.
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.
(2 Kings 17:7-18 NKJV)
The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon and other places to settle them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. These settlers worshiped idols so GOD sent lions to attack them and kill a number of them. When this was reported to the king, he took one of the priests who had been deported from Israel and relocated him in Samaria to teach those people how to properly worship the LORD. The people did worship GOD but they also worshiped their idols at the same time. This continued for generations, even through Jesus' time.
Meanwhile Hezekiah had rebelled against the king of Assyria and also defeated the Philistines, for GOD was with him because he served GOD faithfully.
This is a most tragic end to a once-promising people. It serves as a serious reminder of the importance of obeying and loving GOD. GOD will not tolerate rebellion and sin will not go unpunished.