The Tragic End of Israel [the northern kingdom] (2 Kings 17)

Scripture reading –  2 Kings 17

2 Kings 17 – The Final Judgment

2 Kings 17 gives us a record of the ultimate judgment against Israel for breaking their covenant with the LORD (17:1-6). The silence of God’s prophets is notable in today’s Scripture, for the longsuffering of the LORD has come to a tragic end.

Conspiring with Assyria against King Pekah, Hoshea made himself king and paid tribute to “Shalmaneser king of Assyria (2 Kings 15:27-31; 17:1-3). True to his character, Hoshea afterward failed to pay tribute to Assyria, for he conspired with the king of Egypt. “Therefore the king of Assyria shut [Hoshea] up, and bound him in prison…[and] came up throughout all the land [of Israel], and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years” (2 Kings 17:5).

Exile of the Children of Israel (17:6-23)

The Sins of Israel Brought Judgment (17:7-12)

Rather than heed God’s warnings of judgment, Israel continued in her sins. The people were condemned for ingratitude, for though they had been brought out of Egyptian bondage, they had forsaken the LORD and walked in the ways of the heathen nations (17:8).

What began as secret sins (17:9), were soon committed openly (17:10-12). The sins of Israel included gross immorality, the ways and practices of the heathen, and serving their idols, though the LORD had warned people, “Ye shall not do this thing” (17:12).

The People Rejected God’s Prophets (17:13-17)

The LORD had sent His prophets to call the people to repent of their “evil ways, and keep [His] commandments” (17:13). “Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks…[and] did not believe in the Lord their God” (17:14).

They not only rejected the LORD, His Law and Commandments, but they established places of idol worship like the heathen (17:15-16), and sacrificed their sons and daughters to idols (17:17).

Summary Thoughts on Israel and Judah (17:18-19)

A parenthetical thought is momentarily introduced concerning Judah.  The whole of chapter 17 has addressed a litany of Israel’s sins and the immediacy of God’s judgment, until we read: “There was none left but the tribe of Judah only. 19Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.” (17:18-19). Israel was doomed, and Judah would fail to heed the warning of its own judgment.

A Summary of God’s Judgment (17:20-23)

Israel had broken covenant with the LORD, and His longsuffering was concluded. We read, “the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight” (17:20).

2 Kings 17:20-22 served as a reminder how the ten northern tribes had come to this tragic fall. Those tribes had rebelled against the “house of David,” and followed Jeroboam I. He had made golden calves for the people to worship, “and made them sin a great sin” (17:21).

In spite of the warnings of His prophets, Israel had continued in wickedness, and the LORD determined He would fulfill His judgment against that nation (17:23). Tragically, the people were “carried away out of their own land to Assyria” (17:23).

Foreign Refugees Resettled in Israel’s Land (17:24-41)

The Assyrian practice of exiling a conquered people, and resettling refugees in the land was followed in Israel. The foreigners that were resettled in Israel’s land are recorded (17:24), as well as the LORD’s anger with those idol worshippers (17:25). We read, the heathen “feared not the Lord: therefore, the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them” (17:25).

Fearing the evil befalling them was the judgment of God, the people requested the Assyrian king send Jewish priests to “teach them the manner of the God of the land” (17:27). Astonishingly, the king fulfilled their request and sent “priests whom they had carried away from Samaria… [who] taught them how they should fear the Lord” (17:28).

Unfortunately, what followed was an assimilation of a pseudo-worship of the LORD, while the heathen continued to worship their own gods (17:29-32). They mixed the worship of Israel’s God with the worship of their idols (17:33), and did not fear the LORD, nor follow His Laws and Commandments (17:34-41).

Closing thoughts – The LORD had warned Israel, should they break His covenant and disobey 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 against the northern ten tribes.

The people of Judah, having witnessed the devastating fall and exile of Israel, did not repent. That nation continued in its sinful ways, and would soon face its own judgment.

A sobering thought: Knowing the LORD did not spare Israel and Judah from His judgment, is it not foolish to think He will tolerate the sins of your nation forever?

Copyright 2022 – Travis D. Smith