2 Kings 16:19-17:6 – It’s The Opposite of the Old Tareyton Commercial Jingle!

Posted: August 28, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 16:19-17:6

Israel Falls to Assyria

Does God actually curse people? If we look back at Deuteronomy 28:15-37, the people of God, ancient Israel, were warned of curses. Is God really that way? Does he curse people? If we look more closely at how God states things in the Bible, curses are not necessarily an unprovoked spite by the Lord toward a human or a group of humans. If you read the Bible carefully, curses are more akin to the withdrawal of blessing and protection to those who had been previously experiencing his blessing. This discussion does not address the issue of why bad things happen to good people. That’s an issue for later discussion about trusting in God’s sovereignty. However, here, in this case, we are talking about a nation that, plain and simple, thumbed its nose up at God. And, we see God withdraw his blessing and favor from that nation.

That is what happened with the people of the northern kingdom here. They were cursed by God because they had wandered away from God. They had accepted pagan religious practices and incorporated them into their own worship. So far had they fallen from God, their kings tried to align themselves with other kings to preserve their way of life. Instead of repenting of their sins and seeking renewed favor from the Lord through His forgiveness, they relied on their own political savvy (or so they thought) to preserve themselves. Basically, they were worshiping themselves instead of God. They had fashioned God into who they wanted Him to be, not who He really is. God withdrew his blessing from the northern people and thus left them unprotected by his care. Thus, they became weak and easily conquered by Assyria.

That’s the question we must ask ourselves today. Are we incorporating practices of the world around us so as to appease the culture in which we find ourselves? Are we effectively rewriting God’s Word just so we do not have to deal with the parts that we do not like or that are not popular within the culture in which we operate? That’s where the northern kingdom of Israel found itself. There was an old cigarette commercial back in the day (back when cigarette ads were allowed on television) for Tareyton cigarettes that tried to promote loyalty to their brand. It’s slogan was “I would rather fight than switch!” and each person featured in the ads would have a painted-on black eye. It was a catchy and memorable ad campaign. However, for the nation of the northern kingdom of Israel, the slogan could be reversed, “I would rather switch than fight!”

Instead of doing the tougher thing, which was to obey God and to deny their own sinful desires, they gave in to the practices of the cultures around them. It was easier. It was more sensual. It gave validation to their fleshly desires and made them feel OK about pursuing what was clearly against God’s commands in His Word. It was easier to fit in than stand out. It was easier to give in that stand on God’s Word. It was easier to seek favor with man than it is to seek favor from God. Then, they wondered why God withdrew His blessing from their nation.

Let’s read 2 Kings 16:19-17:6 now to see the final end of the northern kingdom of Israel, to see the withdrawal of God’s protection and care.

19 The rest of the events in Ahaz’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. 20 When Ahaz died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Hezekiah became the next king.

Chapter 17

1 Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him.

3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. 4 But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute and conspired against the king of Assyria by asking King So of Egypt[a] to help him shake free of Assyria’s power. When the king of Assyria discovered this treachery, he seized Hoshea and put him in prison.

Samaria Falls to Assyria

5 Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. 6 Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

In this passage, we see the continuing demands for tribute by Assyria which of course was draining the resources of Israel. Because of the heavy toll that the tribute was exacting on Israel, Hoshea decided to do something about it. We see that instead of seeking God, Hoshea tried to align itself with another foreign king. This time it was King So of Egypt. This was not only foolish but also against God’s commands. To destroy this alliance, Assyria attacked and besieged Samaria for three years. This invasion was Assyria’s third and final invasion of Israel. The first wave was just a warning to Israel – to avoid further attack, Israel had to pay off Assyria and give promises not to rebel against Assyria.

The people should have learned their lesson and returned to God. When they didn’t, God withdrew his favor and allowed the events to play out as they did. The second invasion saw the Assyrians take off people at the northern border of the kingdom and resettled them elsewhere in the kingdom. However, the people still did not realize that they were the source of their own trouble and the cause of God’s withdrawal of blessing and protection. Thus, Assyria invaded a third and final time, destroying Israel completely (Samaria the capital falls into Assyrian hands in 722 BC) and carrying away most of the northern kingdom’s people and resettling Israel with Assyrians.

God was doing what He had said He would do (see Deuteronomy 28:15-37). He had given Israel ample warning. They knew what would come, but they still ignored God. Israel was now no better than any of the pagan nations that it had conquered in the Promised Land in the days of Joshua. The nation had turned sour and rejected its original purpose – to honor God and be a light to the world.

What is it that we can learn from this passage that we can use today in the 21st century? I think that it is clear that God’s Word is eternal and timeless and it is His Truth that never changes. It is tempting for us, just as it was for ancient Israel, to adjust God’s Word here and there to make accommodations for the culture in which we live. It is tempting for us to hide those parts of God’s Word away in storage that are offensive to the culture in which we live and now operate. It is tempting for us to ignore God’s Word in certain areas and even re-interpret them so that we fit in better with the culture in which we operate. It is tempting to reverse course on thousands of years of Christian interpretation of God’s Word and say that for thousands of years that’s not what God really meant just so we can not cause friction with the current beliefs of culture. However, that does not change the fact that the Holy Spirit has led Christians for thousands of years to interpret the Bible in the manner that we have for those thousands of years. It does not change the fact that God’s truth is timeless and eternal and will never change and He is the one that has established that truth and guided believers over the millennia to understand those exact truths.

The lesson then is before us. Stand on God’s truth as understood by His people for thousands and thousands of years or become like ancient Israel and simply fashion a religion of our own making because it just makes things easier. It’s easier to the easy thing than it is to do the hard thing. Ancient Israel suffered the withdrawal of blessing from God (i.e., withdrawal of blessing = curse) and the nation was no more in the end. The lesson for us as Christ followers today is that we must obey God even when its not popular and even when its not easy and even when it is the not the culturally popular thing to do.

Lord, give us the strength to resist turning from you and embracing that which is not of you. Lord, give us the strength to see your truths as expressed in your Word as eternal and timeless and unchanging. Lord, help to resist the temptation to rewrite the Bible to make it easier for the world around us. Lord, help to be strong and be faithful to you so that you will not withdraw your blessing from us.

Amen and Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s