But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. — 2 Kings 17:39
An inexperienced driver, high speeds, wet roads, and a dash of alcohol. Young children playing with matches. Greasy carnival food and too many rides on the roller coaster. We call these combinations “a recipe for disaster” because when certain factors are combined, we know problems will result.
Disobedience, unbelief, idolatry — the spiritual components present in the land of Israel — were a recipe for disaster. This was not because the people of Israel did not know better. Today’s focus verse contains a “recipe for success” that had been given to them centuries before, and through the years, faithful men of God had reminded them of this precept.
The people of Israel were blessed during the righteous reign of King David. However, in the later years of King Solomon, as his heart was turned away from the Lord to other gods, the nation began to be infected by idolatry. Consequently, God divided the nation. Ten tribes formed the Northern Kingdom under King Jeroboam.
Even though the Lord told Jeroboam that He was dividing the kingdom because of Solomon’s idolatry, Jeroboam created his own religious system with elements from both Jewish and pagan beliefs. Consequently, this essentially pagan form of worship became the religion of the nation of Israel. There was only a pretense that they were still serving the living God.
Two hundred years and twenty kings later, disobedience, unbelief, and idolatry prevailed in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God had sent His Prophets Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, and undoubtedly many others to plead with and warn the people to stay true to Jehovah. Yet there were false prophets telling the people they must be tolerant, be willing to accept diversity, be ready to adopt new ways. The majority of the people apparently believed these fake prophets, because the nation embraced idolatry, and eventually God removed Israel from the Promised Land, as He had said He would if they disobeyed. The recipe for disaster produced ruinous results.
Just as the Israelites did, people today also make a choice between a recipe for disaster and one for spiritual success. If we will fear the Lord and obey His Word, He has promised to deliver us from the enemy of our souls, to be with us, to help and guide us, and eventually to give us eternal life. We can learn a lesson about what not to do from Israel, and we can purpose to follow God with all our hearts. It’s a sure recipe for success!
Today’s text describes the resettlement of Israel. When the Assyrians conquered an area, they would force the local inhabitants to relocate in other countries. Then Assyria brought in captives from other areas to live in the newly conquered land. This prevented nationalities from uniting and rebelling, for they were spread apart from each other and far from their homelands.
The new inhabitants of Israel were brought from locations to the east and the north. Cuthah was near Babylon. Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim were probably cities in Syria. Samaria (verse 24) referred to the land of Israel, not just the capital city, and Samaritans (verse 29) were the Israelites who were still there. In time, the families of the Israelites who stayed behind married into the families of those who were brought in, and eventually these racially mixed people were called Samaritans and were hated by the Jews.
Repopulating took time, and meanwhile, wild animals increased. When lions killed some of the colonists, they acknowledged it was God’s judgment against them. They asked for a priest who understood how to serve the “God of the land.” One of the priests that had been taken captive was sent back, but he probably was one who had been involved in Israel’s idolatry. The people from these various locations combined the worship of God with worship of their own idols, several of which are listed in the text. This resulted in extreme heathen practices that continued until the time of the writing of 2 Kings.
Verses 34-39 reiterate the commandments God had given the Israelites and reference how He had worked miracles on their behalf. “Howbeit they did not hearken” (verse 40), and their ungodly ways were passed down from one generation to another.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
T. Hoshea of Israel
5. The colonization of Samaria (17:24-41)
a. The origin of the Samaritans (17:24-26)
b. The syncretism of the Samaritans (17:27-41)
If we follow God’s recipe for success, we will be well-pleased with the results.