The Apostasy and Tragic End of Israel [the northern kingdom] (2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17)

Scripture Reading – 2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17

Our Scripture reading in the Book of 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings are parallel records of the same period in Israel and Judah’s history. While the names of the kings and their successors might be laborious, don’t overlook the testimony of God’s sovereignty over the kings and their kingdoms.

The northern ten tribes, known as Israel, whose capital was Samaria, had continued their rebellion and rejection of God’s Covenant, Laws, and Commandments. Judah, the kingdom in the south whose capital was Jerusalem, though blessed with a succession of kings who feared the LORD, was yet following in the idolatrous steps of her sister to the north.

2 Chronicles 28 introduces us to a young king named Ahaz, whose reign marked a dramatic spiritual decline when he turned from the LORD (28:1), and “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim” (28:2; 2 Kings 16:2).

Ahaz made no pretense of fearing the LORD, and the ways of the wicked and the worship of their gods became his way (28:3-4). The king not only burnt incense to idols, he also committed the horror of burning and sacrificing “his children in the fire” (28:3b; 2 Kings 16:3).

The king’s wickedness accelerated Judah’s spiritual decline and eventual destruction. Because Judah had rejected the LORD, He removed His blessing and the nation began to be afflicted. Syria’s king invaded Judah and carried away “a great multitude” (28:5a). The king of Israel soon followed Syria with an invasion of Judah that is described as “a great slaughter” (28:5b).

The depth of wickedness to which Israel had descended is shown when we read that the children of Israel took away 200,000 of their Judean brethren as captives (28:8). Only the intervention and condemnation of a prophet, identified as Oded, deterred Israel from enslaving their own brethren, the people of Judah (28:9-15).

When the Edomites invaded Judah, rather than turn to the LORD for help, King Ahaz appealed to the king of Assyria, and took from the treasuries of the Temple and palace a payment for his protection (28:16-21; 2 Kings 16:7-8).

The depth of Ahaz’s wickedness was evidenced when he ordered the construction of an altar to the gods of Assyria. The king stripped the Temple of its sacred vessels, removed the altar of the LORD, and finally closed the doors of the Temple (28:23-24; 2 Kings 16:10-18).

2 Kings 17

2 Kings 17 gives us the record of God’s final judgment against Israel for breaking their covenant with Him (17:1-6). After a three-year siege of Samaria, the capital of Israel, the city fell and the king of Israel was taken captive and imprisoned by the Assyrians (17:4-6).

Judah, rather than heed the warning of God’s judgment as demonstrated in the fall of Israel, continued in her sins and the people “hardened their necks” (17:14). They not only rejected the LORD, His Law and Commandments, they also established places of idol worship like the heathen (17:15-16), and sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (17:17).

Why did this desolation befall Israel? It was a fulfillment of God’s covenant promises with the nation. The LORD had warned His people, should they rebel and reject His Law and Commandments, He would remove them from their land (Deuteronomy 28:25, 49-50, 52, 63-68) and enslave them (Deuteronomy 28:29, 33, 48, 68). Assyria was the nation God chose to fulfill His covenant promise of judgment. Following the practice of ancient kings, Assyria resettled Israel with people from other nations (17:24).

Judah, after witnessing the fall of Israel, continued in the sinful ways of her sister to the north. We will soon see that God will pour out His wrath on His people.

A closing thought: We might be shocked at the depth of sin and depravity to which Israel and Judah descended, especially as we remember they offered their sons and daughters as burnt sacrifices to idols.

However, my question stands as this: Is a society that kills its unborn in the mother’s womb any better? The United States has taken the lives of sixty million infants, sacrificed as an inconvenience to “women’s rights.”

Surely the LORD, Who did not spare Israel and Judah from judgment, will not tolerate the sins of our nation forever.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith