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Breezin’ Through the Bible, #16 The Fall of Israel

February 6, 2014

The Fall of Israel

God loves his people as a father loves his children. He wants them to do what is right and obey his laws, proclaimed simply and directly by Moses in the Ten Commandments in 1445 BC from the cloud-covered summit of Mt. Sinai and written on tablets of stone for the people to remember. First among those commands (not suggestions) is this statement: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Then God led the people to the promised land of milk and honey where they could worship him. He led them in battles to clear the land of idol worshipers, and helped them establish a home, a culture, and a history.

But they did wicked things that aroused God’s anger. God is slow to anger, but of great mercy, and he does not always punish wickedness immediately, always hoping his people will figure out their wrong-doing themselves. Their evil escalated, however, and they had to be punished. The people followed their neighbors into evil, were punished, then they repented and were forgiven. This cycle continued.

The people asked for kings to govern them, and although God’s prophet Samuel, warned them about earthly rulers, they got their kings. Some kings did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and some kings stubbornly resisted. God sent prophets to remind them of their wickedness and to help them rethink their ways, but the kings did not always listen, and some kings did not respect the Lord.

Over time the kingdom divided into two smaller nations, disrupting their culture and religion. Ten tribes of Jacob lived in the north. Their land was called Israel, and their capitol was Samaria. Two tribes, Judah and the small tribe of Benjamin, lived in the south and their land was called Judah. Their capitol was Jerusalem. These smaller kingdoms fought with each other and with their neighbors. A house divided cannot stand.

Six kings ruled Israel for a period of 26 years. Hoshea was the last king (732-721 BC). When Hoshea stopped paying tribute to the king of Assyria, Assyrian armies invaded the land. Hoshea had believed the Egyptians would help him, and he did not rely on God. The Assyrians deported 27,000 Israelites to Mesopotamia, and king Sargon the second made Israel a province of Assyria. The ten tribes of Israel disappeared into other regions.New settlers came into the territor, renamed Samaria, and the people became Samaritans. The Assyrian empire dominated the Near East for 300 years (900-600 BC). 

722 BC – fall of Israel, Israelites exiled to Assyria

740-681 BC – Isaiah’s ministry in Judah

715-686 BC – Hezekiah’s reign in Judah

Hezrkiah, son of Ahaz, ruled the southern kingdom of Judah for 29 years. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent an army to threaten the tiny kingdom. Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and consulted the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had a dream of God’s kingdom and saw God’s angels. He told Hezekiah the Assyrians would not enter Jerusalem, for God would defend his city. In the morning 185,000 Assyrians were dead. Sennacherib broke camp and returned to Assyria where in the temple of his god he was murdered by his sons.

Isaiah, the first of the writing prophets, continued to warn the people. Jerusalem would fall and the people would be captives. But the Lord would not forget them. The Lord would send a messiah, who would usher in a glorious kingdom without end. 

King Hezekiah died and his son Manasseh did not follow God’s directions. He supported detestable religious practices and brutal oppression. Manasseh ruled Judah for 55 years, bringing the fall of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylon closer.

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