Deliberate ‘DISOBEDIENCE’ will lead to ‘FAILURE’ and ‘CAPTIVITY’: "And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day" (2 Kings 17:20-23).
The book of 2nd Kings assesses the history of Israel and elaborates their eventual demise in terms of non-adherence to the covenant principles laid out in the book of Deuteronomy (vv. 7–41). The Assyrian deportation of Israel occurred due to the fact that they deliberately disobeyed Jehovah God during their entire 300-year history by worshipping other gods (vv. 7–12). The kings and the people of Israel had ignored the repeated warnings of the prophets and had rejected God’s covenant completely (vv. 13–18).
The Israelites committed two forms of idolatry, first by worshipping gods other than the God of Israel (Exodus 20:3), and second by bowing before images that they had fashioned for themselves (Exodus 20:4). From the time the Israelites had settled in Canaan until their exile to Assyria, they were influenced by their idolatrous neighbors, and these influences were aided by mixed marriages, like those of Solomon (1 Kings 11:1–13) and Ahab (1 Kings 16:30–33). They had feared other gods, walked in the customs of other nations, built for themselves high places, sacred pillars and wooden images everywhere, and multiplied their idolatry. They turned their backs on God’s commandments and adopted the man-made religion of their neighbors.
The reason for the fall of Samaria and the end of the northern kingdom is clearly stated to be its spiritual failure, in turning from the living God to worship other gods that exist only in people’s depraved imagination. So, God gave them their ultimate punishment: captivity and deportation to a foreign country. The king of Assyria carried the ten northern tribes of Israel away to Mesopotamia and Media in 722 B.C. This was the judgment of God prophesied long ago through Moses in Deut. 28:47–68.
The history of any nation (not just Israel) must ultimately be judged according to its faithfulness to the Lord. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34). Israel’s demise as a nation was a direct consequence of her sin. The same is true of any individual who persists in rebellion and deliberate disobedience against God. When we examine 2 Kings 17 closely, we come across four sins that were committed by Israelites that we should avoid in our lives:
- They forgot God’s mercy (v. 7) in saving them from Egyptian bondage. We need to remind ourselves daily what God has done for us (read Psalms 103).
- They imitated the ungodly (v. 8) and corrupted their true worship of Jehovah by worldly practices. We should avoid any forms of dilution in our worship to God, who should be worshipped in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
- They refused to listen to the prophets of God (vv. 13–18) and rejected the law of the Lord. We need to always pay close attention to what God is telling us through His servants and His Word.
- They feared the Lord (vv. 25, 28, 32–34, 41) but manufactured their own religion. Let us note that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” and no one can go to God except through Jesus Christ alone (John 14:6).