"Judgments of a Loving God" - Chapter 26

    

     

    

    

Chapter 26: The Sins & Judgments of the Northern Kingdom

Part 2: Post-Ahab

   

    

Chapter 26 Contents

 

26.1 Introduction

26.2 Post Ahab

26.3 The Sins of Israel

26.4 Israel seen in the big picture

26.5 Summary-Conclusion

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

  

26.1 Introduction

 

We paused at the end of the previous chapter at the end of Ahab's reign. We chose Ahab as the dividing point for considering the northern kingdom simply because so much space is given to him in the Old Testament that he provides a useful marker for considering all the kings of the northern kingdom.

 

The path was set by Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom who made and set up two idols, one at the northern end of the kingdom and one at the south, the idea being that the people wouldn't need to go down to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. To accompany these idols he also set up a complete religion paralleling that of the south, except it didn't come from the Lord! Furthermore it seemed to open the door for other religions from other countries to be brought into the country, complete with their idols. This situation remained like this throughout the reign of every one of the following kings of the north, as we shall see in this chapter.

 

 

The Northern Kings

(and the lengths of their reigns)

1.Jeroboam (22)

2.Nadab (2)

3.Baasha (24)

4.Elah (2)

5.Zimri (1 week)

6a.Tibni (unknown)

6b.Omri (12)

7.Ahab (22)

 

8.Ahaziah (2)

9.Joram (12)

10.Jehu (28)

11.Jehoahaz (17)

12.Jehoash (16)

13.Jeroboam II (41)

14.Zechariah (6m)

15.Shallum (1m)

16.Menahem (10)

17.Pekahiah (2)

18.Pekah (20)

19.Hoshea (9)

 

 

      

26.2 Post-Ahab

 

Ahab died about 853BC. Bearing in mind Samaria fell in 722BC, we are now considering roughly a 130 year period. Rather than go through each reign in detail we instead simply provide the following table showing the king, how long their reigned (in brackets), where they can be found in the Old Testament, and what the recording scribes (the author(s) of 1 & 2 Kings) had to say about them in terms of their standing before the Lord

   

The Remaining Kings of Israel

   

King (+reign)

Ref.

Condemnation

8. Ahaziah (2)

1 Kings 22:51-53

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD , because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. He served and worshiped Baal and provoked the LORD , the God of Israel , to anger, just as his father had done. (1 Kings 22:52,53)

9. Joram (12) killed by

2 Kings 3:1-

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not as his father and mother had done. He got rid of the sacred stone of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them (3:2,3)

10. Jehu (28)

2 Kings 10:36

So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel . However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit--the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation." Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel , with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.( 10:29-31)

11. Jehoahaz (17)

2 Kings 13:1-6

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD by following the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit, and he did not turn away from them. (13:1)

12. Jehoash (16)

2 Kings 13:10-

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he continued in them. (13:11)

13. Jeroboam II (41)

2 Kings 14:23-29

H e did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit . (14:24)

The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel , whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. And since the LORD had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash. (14:26,27)

14. Zechariah (6m)

assassinated by

2 Kings 15:8-12

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (15:9)

15. Shallum (1m)

assassinated by

2 Kings 15:13-15

 

16. Menahem (10) who submitted to Assyria

2 Kings 15:16-22

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (15:18)

17. Pekahiah (2)

assassinated by

2 Kings 15:23-26

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (15:24)

18. Pekah (20)

assassinated by

2 Kings 15:27-31

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. (15:28)

19. Hoshea (9) deported by king of Assyria

2 Kings 17:1-6

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him. (17:2)

As can be seen, most of them have their sin identified with that of Jeroboam.

   

   

26.3 The Sins of Israel : 2 Kings 17:7-17

 

The Sins Listed

   

Because these verses are full of condemnation of Israel and explain the reasons for the ending of the northern kingdom, the following table may highlight their failures:

 

1

v.7

Worshipped other gods

2

v.8

Followed practices of Canaanites

3

v.8

Followed the wrong practice introduced by Jeroboam

4

v.9

Secretly built high places of false worship

5

v.10

Set up sacred stones & Asherah poles to worship

6

v.11

Burned incense to idols

7

v.12

Worshipped idols

8

v.13

Disregarded God's Laws

9

v.14

Did not trust in God

10

v.15

Rejected God's covenant

11

v.15

Rejected God's warnings

12

v.15

Followed worthless idols

13

v.15

Imitated pagan nations doing forbidden things

14

v.16

Made two golden calves and worshipped them

15

v.16

Made and worshipped an Asherah pole

16

v.16

Worshipped the stars

17

v.16

Worshipped Baal

18

v.17

Sacrificed their sons and daughters

19

v.17

Practised divination

20

v.17

Practised sorcery

 

This twenty-fold condemnation may be summarised as:

  • Turning away from God
  • Rejecting God, His covenant and His warnings
  • Creating their own false religion
  • Making and worshipping idols to replace God

 

Verse 17 summarises their activities as setting their hearts to do evil.

 

     

26.4 Israel seen in the big picture

 

The overall failure started with Jeroboam and continued through every reign until their ultimate destruction. This is detailed in chapter 17 of 2 Kings by way of a round up of what had happened and why.

   

The Root Problem

   

2 Kings 17:21-23 When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the LORD and caused them to commit a great sin. The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them until the LORD removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria , and they are still there.

   

Requirements of the Original Covenant

   

2 Kings 17:35-39 When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: "Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD , who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies."

 

The following may apply to those in Samaria after others imported, but it also certainly applied to the people of Israel throughout the time of the northern kingdom:

 

2 Kings 17:40,41 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshiping the LORD , they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did

    

There was no question about the outcome

  

2 Kings 18:11,12 The king of Assyria deported Israel to Assyria and settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in towns of the Medes. This happened because they had not obeyed the LORD their God, but had violated his covenant--all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. They neither listened to the commands nor carried them out

   

An act of grace and mercy

   

Roughly 6 years after the fall of Samaria, Hezekiah, king of Judah sent out a remarkable letter to every Israelite, both those in the land of Judah and those deported to come and celebrate the Passover at Jerusalem. See 2 Chron 30:1-11

    

The offer of restoration: 2 Chron 30:6-9

   

Note particularly ďAt the king's command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: "People of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their fathers, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the LORD. Come to the sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the LORD, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him."

   

Responses

   

The couriers went from town to town in Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but the people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem . (v.10,11)

 

     

26.5 Summary-Conclusion

  

The History Covered & Sins observed

  

As noted in the previous chapter, we have sought to outline the whole of the history of Israel , the northern ten tribes, from the point of the breaking up of Solomon's kingdom, (about 930BC) to the destruction of Samaria (722BC),roughly a 208 year period.

 

In chapter 25 we covered the kings from Jeroboam to Ahab.

In this chapter we have continued by looking at the post-Ahab period by summarizing the kings and their condemnations. We have already put in table-form their failures and so we will not repeat it here.

 

Questions that arise

  

1. God's Help

 

Question: Did God just abandon the northern kingdom?.

Answer: Without doubt the Lord did not just leave Israel to their own devices but spoke His word through His prophets into the life of Israel again and again. See Appendix 1 below. It is interesting to note that after Elisha (2 Kings 13) there is a dearth of such words and the Lord appears to remain silent in the following reigns recorded in the following four chapters until the dispersion of the nation in chapter 17.

 

During the ministries of Elijah and Elisha He backed their ministries with the miraculous. We might say He was doing everything possible to re-establish and maintain a testimony to His ongoing presence in the land with the hope that the people would turn back to Him.

 

In Appendix 2 below, we also include some verses that indicate the Lord's grace working for Israel throughout this time. It is clear that He was there, watching and overseeing Israel .

 

2. The Sin of Israel

 

Question: What was the sin or sins of the northern kingdom?

Answer: The primary sin, of establishing a copy-cat religion to stop the people going to down Jerusalem , complete with two golden idols, was at the heart of their sin and although it was established by their first king, Jeroboam, it was continued by every single one of the kings of the northern kingdom.

In 26.3 above we have also itemized the list of sins of Israel throughout this period as noted by the scribe of that day.

 

3. Why No Judgment

  

Question: The biggest question which hangs over this whole two hundred year period is why did the Lord tolerate it? Surely He must have known it would happen when He split the kingdom after Solomon?

Answers: We did suggest that splitting the kingdom was an act designed to give greater opportunity for Israelites to get it right, but in the case of the northern kingdom it is clearly a case of giving them greater opportunity to get it wrong!

  • As we commented in the section on Ahab, the fact that the Lord was still there to help, despite this king, and was immediately ready to forgive him when he humbled himself, indicates a measure of grace and mercy almost beyond our understanding!
  • Indeed this applies to this whole period of the life of the northern kingdom. I am sure that if this was part of a business plan or community plan being run by any of us, we would have given up on Israel very early on in the life of the northern kingdom. It is a measure of God's grace and God's wisdom that He did not. No one can say that he was hasty with this people and that He wasn't working on their behalf again and again, despite their unfaithfulness in respect of Him.
  • To summarise, we can only suggest that the Lord allowed this kingdom to exist as long as it did, purely to reveal, even more than previously seen in Judges and Samuel, the folly of sinful mankind, even when God was there to help.
  • No one could ever say that He never
  • Gave them clear warning and guidance from the start
  • Brought corrective guidance and warnings along the way, and
  • Intervened on numerous occasions to bless them.

 

This period of the life of Israel is a striking indictment of the sinfulness of Israel , and thus of the whole human race. It shows very clearly that to simply establish a nation as a special people with special guidance was inadequate. Another form of salvation was needed. If anyone should ever question the need for the salvation revealed through Jesus Christ, a study of mankind revealed through these histories, should more than adequately answer that question.

 

This means we now need to look at the southern kingdom in the next chapter to see if they fared any better. Was the experience of the northern kingdom a uniquely negative experience, or does the experience of the southern kingdom conform our conclusions above?

     

    

Appendix 1

The prophetic words that came to the northern kingdom, i.e. the Lord's spoken input during this time.

 

Ref.

Bringer

Receiver

General Content

1 Kings 11:11-

The Lord

Solomon

Your disobedience will mean the kingdom split

1 Kings 11:29-

Ahijah

Jeroboam

Shares God's plan to divide the kingdom

1 Kings 12:22-

Shemaiah

Rehoboam

Don't fight Jeroboam

1 Kings 13:1-

Man of God

Jeroboam

Rebuke against the altar

1 Kings 14:6-

Ahijah

Jeroboam

Rebuke & judgment on his idolatry

1 Kings 16:1-

Jehu

Baasha

Rebuke & judgment for ongoing idolatry

1 Kings 17:1-

Elijah

Ahab

Declaration of a three year drought

1 Kings 18:18-

Elijah

Ahab

Rebuke and call to Mt. Carmel

1 Kings 20:13-

A prophet

Ahab

Aram will be defeated

1 Kings 20:28-

A man of God

Ahab

Aram will be defeated again

1 Kings 20:41-

A prophet

Ahab

Your life will be forfeit for sparing the king of Aram

1 Kings 21:17-

Elijah

Ahab

Your life forfeited fro killing Naboth

1 Kings 21:28-

Elijah

Ahab (?)

Recognition of Ahab's humbling himself

1 Kings 22:17-

Micaiah

Ahab + J

Israel 's defeat & Ahab's death

2 Kings 1:3,16

Elijah

Ahaziah

Rebuke and you will die

2 Kings 3:16-

Elisha

Joram + J

Victory will be yours against Moab

2 Kings 5:8-

Elisha

Joram

Direction to heal Naaman

2 Kings 6:9-

Elisha

Joram

Kept warning him of enemy positions

2 Kings 7:1

Elisha

Joram

End of siege and famine

2 Kings 8:9-

Elisha

Hazael

Death of king of Aram & Hazael's elevation

2 Kings 9:4

Elisha/ prophet

Jehu

To kill Joram and Ahab's family and reign

2 Kings 10:30

The Lord

Jehu

His family to rule for 4 generations

2 Kings 13:14

Elisha

Jehoash

Limited success over Aram

    

     

Appendix 2: Times of God's blessing or intervention

 

The activities of both Elijah and Elisha in this period were supported by the miraculous from the Lord, but the following are other instances in this period when the Lord helped out or acted in some specific way in respect of Israel to encourage them.

 

Ref.

The Lord's intervention or help

2 Kings 3:17-18

For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD ; he will also hand Moab over to you.

2 Kings 7:5-7

At dusk they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans. When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there, for the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, "Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!" So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.

2 Kings 10:32,33

In those days the LORD began to reduce the size of Israel . Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan .

2 Kings 13:4,5

Then Jehoahaz sought the LORD 's favor, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel . The LORD provided a deliverer for Israel , and they escaped from the power of Aram . So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before.

2 Kings 13:22,23

Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence.

2 Kings 14:26,27

The LORD had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel , whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. And since the LORD had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash.

 

  

 

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