For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing. — 2 Kings 17:12
As a child, I sometimes found it hard to obey what my parents told me to do. One particular instance of disobedience still lingers in my mind, more than four decades later.
My mother had some mementos from her childhood that she kept in a cupboard above our kitchen stove, and occasionally she would take them down and let us look at them. I loved Mom’s beautiful glass knick-knacks and childhood treasures, and would often beg to see them. My parents realized there could be a temptation for me to try to get the treasures on my own, so they stressed many times that I was never to climb on the stove and get into the things on the shelf. They knew that would be very dangerous for a child of my age, and they made sure I understood that I was not to disobey them — and that there would be consequences if I did!
Sometimes when my mom was busy in the back rooms of the house, I would pull a chair over by the stove and stand on it, looking up at the forbidden cupboard. Once I even put my foot on the stove and started to climb up, but my sister heard me and said she would tell Mom if I didn’t get down. One day, however, my sister was out in the barn with Dad, and Mom was busy away from the kitchen. After checking to make sure the coast was clear, I quickly pushed a chair next to the stove and climbed up onto it. I knew very well that I was being disobedient, and my heart was pounding, but I stepped up onto the stove. Then I reached inside the cupboard and took out a small ceramic dog. It was beautiful! I was so engrossed in looking at that dog that I didn’t hear the front door open. A moment later I heard my dad’s booming voice — and I knew in an instant that my disobedience had been found out!
The resulting discipline was necessary and deserved. Dad wanted to be sure I never climbed on the stove again — he knew I could burn myself if an element had been left on, or I could fall off and get hurt. He loved me and so he wanted me to be safe. And he wanted to remind me of the consequences of disobedience! It was successful; as far as I can remember, I never climbed on the stove again.
In our devotional text we see a disobedient Israel worshiping idols; totally ignoring God’s command to worship only Him. God had sent prophet after prophet and punishment after punishment to try and turn Israel away from sin and back to Himself, but the people would not listen. Israel refused to obey, so eventually God permitted Assyria to conquer Israel, lead the people into captivity, and settle the land with foreigners.
Let us learn a lesson from the disobedience of Israel! Rebelling against God’s instructions will bring discipline and eventual judgment. Today, may we purpose in our hearts to pay close attention to His Word and be careful to obey Him in every matter. We will be blessed if we do!
This chapter provides an account of how Israel, the Northern Kingdom of ten tribes, was carried into captivity. Hoshea, the last king to reign in Israel, governed the Northern Kingdom for nine years. By then, the kingdom was in a weakened state. King Hoshea paid an annual tribute to Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria. After six years, Hoshea rebelled against Assyria and sought help from Egypt. In retaliation, Shalmaneser had Hoshea imprisoned. With no real leader for Israel, the Assyrians moved through the land, taking cities, until they arrived at Samaria. They besieged Samaria for three years, and eventually captured it. The Assyrians then carried away most of the people, and resettled the land with foreigners.
The reasons for the Israelites’ punishment are given in this chapter. Verse 7 indicates they had sinned against God by forgetting His mercy in delivering them from oppression in Egypt. Verse 8 tells that they had followed the evil example of the heathen people around them, so that the true worship of God was corrupted by idolatrous practices. Verses 13-18 reveal that they had ignored the preaching of the prophets and rejected the law of God. They completely rebelled against the Lord who loved them so much, becoming empty and vain just like the false idols they worshiped. Verses 16 and 17 describe the extent of Israel’s pagan worship. The people worshiped calves, one at Dan and one at Bethel. They also had a grove where they prayed to idols and worshiped Baal along with the sun, moon, and stars. They burned their own children on altars to honor these gods, consulted fortune tellers, and used black magic and the occult, totally selling themselves to evil.
With the Northern Kingdom of Israel in captivity, only Judah was left. However, Judah also turned away from God in disobedience. She was guilty of the same sins as Israel, and needed to repent. Sadly, Judah also refused to ask for forgiveness and obey God’s commandments, so 136 years later the people of the Southern Kingdom were also taken away from the land God had given them and placed among strangers in Babylon.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
T. Hoshea of Israel
1. The character of Hoshea’s reign (17:1-2)
2. The conspiracy of Hoshea (17:3-4)
3. The invasion and captivity of Israel (17:5-6)
4. The cause of Israel’s captivity (17:7-23)
Disobedience to God is dangerous. Though judgment may be deferred for a time, it will come. There are eternal consequences for not following God’s commands!