By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
In the year 931 B.C., the twelve tribes of Israel underwent a civil war that forever divided them into two nations.
The ten northern tribes became known as the nation of Israel (with its’ capital city of Samaria), and the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin became known as the nation of Judah (see 1 Kings 12).
While some in the ten northern tribes migrated to Judah (2 Kings 11:13-17), the citizens of the northern tribes mainly continued in horrible apostasy.
Even though God sent His messengers, the Prophets, to try and call them back to Him in repentance, the Israelites continued in their rebellion until the nation of Assyria, in the year 722 B.C., defeated them and took them captive.
There are many important lessons we can learn from these events, especially as a nation of people today that has largely turned its’ back upon the God of Creation.
In the account of the Assyrian invasion recorded in 2 Kings 17, we learn some powerful principles that we should apply to our lives.
First: The Bible Is Accurate.
One of the first lessons that we learn from the fall of Samaria is that the Bible is accurate in its’ historical reporting.
2 Kings 17:6-In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
It is fascinating that ancient Assyrian documents confirm the Bible’s teachings in these regards:
“The events of Samaria’s fall were chronicled in the Assyrian annals from the reign of Sargon II and the Old Testament, and although the two sources present the event from different perspectives, they corroborate each other for the most part and together present a reliable account of the situation. The Assyrian record reads, “I besieged and conquered Samaria ( Sa- me- ri- na ), led away as booty 27,290 inhabitants of it. I formed from among them a contingent of 50 chariots and made remaining (inhabitants) assume their (social) positions. I installed over them an officer of mine and imposed upon them the tribute of the former king. Hanno, king of Gaza and also Sib’e, the turtan of Egypt ( Mu- ṣu- ri ), set out from Rapihu against me to deliver a decisive battle. I defeated them; Sib’e ran away, afraid when he (only) heard the noise of my (approaching) army, and has not been seen again. Hanno, I captured personally. I received tribute from Pir’u of Musuru, from Samsi, queen of Arabia (and) It’amar the Sabaen, gold in dust- form, horses (and) camels.” (Oppenheim 1992, 284- 5). A second inscription records more details about the fate of the population: “[The inhabitants of Sa]maria, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to endure servitude and not to bring tribute to Assur and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in whom they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my commissioner as governor over them, and I counted them as Assyrians.” (Nimrud Prism, lines 25- 41).” (Charles River Editors, The Ten Lost Tribes: The History And Mystery Of The Lost Tribes Of Israel, 471-486 (Kindle Edition))
While the world scoffs at the Bible, the findings of archaeology continue to confirm the accuracy of God’s Word.
Two: The People Were Exceedingly Wicked
The wickedness of the Israelites is seen time and time throughout our text in 2 Kings 17:
2 Kings 17:15-17-And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them.
16 So they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.
This passage is a powerful indicator of the wickedness of the Hebrews. We are told that they expressly and repeatedly rejected the Word of God, without showing any sign of repentance. They wanted to be like the nation’s that God had removed from the land before they entered it.
Well, how bad were the Canaanite nations that inhabited Palestine before the Hebrews drove them out?
The pagan religious rites of the Canaanites included ritual fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, child rape and sacrifice (Leviticus 18). Frankly, the wickedness of the Canaanites (and Israel) is often beyond our understanding.
Yet what is so frightening is that in some ways, America is becoming more like ancient Israel.
How often do people, even in the church, have the attitude of the Hebrews?
How many yearn to be like the world around them?
The continual challenge for the church of any age and every generation will be to find and maintain a balance between grace and law, between seeking the will of God over the worldliness of the ungodly.
We must learn to make better decisions than these Hebrews did. Basically stated, we must learn to put God and His kingdom first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).
What happens when a person or a nation continues in rebellion against God?
We see here the progressive nature of sin.
The Bible says that the Hebrews were making their children “pass through the fire.”
Look at what that means:
“The Canaanites worshiped a god called Moloch with human sacrifices. Children, (mainly their firstborn sons) were burned alive in their sacrifices to this god. This was one way of creating teraphim. “ And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire…” Jeremiah 7:31 “Tophet is Moloch, an idol which was made of brass. The Canaanites heated him from his lower parts; and his outstretched hands were made hot. They put the child in his hands, and it was burnt alive. When the child vehemently cried out the priests beat a drum, so the father would not hear the voice of his son, and move his heart.” Rabbi Rashi’s Commentary on Jeremiah 7:31.” (Ken Johnson, The Pre-Flood Origins Of Astrology, 51-52 (Kindle Edition)).
Sin is always progressive.
If it is not dealt with in repentance, it continues to get worse and to increase in depravity. Surely we can learn from the lessons of the nation of Israel in these regards.
Third: God Continued To Send His Word But The People Continued To Reject It.
The Bible goes on to tell us that God continued to send His Word to the people, and yet the people continued to reject Him:
2 Kings 17:13-14-Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.”
14 Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.
One of the greatest blessings is knowing that God continues to reach out to sinful man. He desires this salvation of all, even the most wicked (Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:4). Here we see that God continued to send forth His Prophets to the people. Sadly, they continually rejected Him and His Word.
We see the same attitudes throughout Israel’s history:
Isaiah 30:10-Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
Jeremiah 5:31-The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?
Amos 2:12-But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, And commanded the prophets saying, ‘Do not prophesy!’
Even though many continue to hate us for being proclaimers God’s Word, Christians must persevere in speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Even when we are persecuted, slandered, mistreated, imprisioned, and in every way afflicted-we must decide that we will be faithful to God (Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:3-5).
Fourth: God Can Use Other Nations To Bring Judgment
A final lesson to consider in the fall of Samaria is that God can use other nations to punish the wicked.
Indeed, the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nation’s (Psalm 22:28). He is Lord of lords and King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15), and He is the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5).
The righteous God is able to build up nations, or to destroy them, depending on their decision to do good or to do evil (Jeremiah 18:1-10).
As a people, we need to choose to put God first.
How do we do that?
I know a lot of people who say that politicians will make America great again. I deny that with my whole being. Only one thing can make America great again, beloved; repentance before the one true God.
That change does not start “out there;” it starts “with me.”
Are you walking with God?
If the answer is “no,” then it is time to start. God has graciously delivered His Son to the world to allow Him to die for our sins, to be buried, and to rise again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Now you need to turn to Him to be saved; you need to gladly receive His Word and repent and be baptized into Christ today (Acts 2:38-41).
If you are an erring child of God, you need to come back to the Lord in repentance and prayer (Revelation 3:20; 1 John 1:9).
Let’s learn from the fall of Samaria and turn to the Lord today.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.