170 - Israel Falls Apart
JUNE 19 - Nº 170 2 Kings 14:23-28; 15:8-31; 2 Chronicles 28:5-6
When the nation of Israel had separated into two kingdoms in 931 B.C. (see #131 - May 11), the larger, northern kingdom had kept the name Israel. (During its 209-year existence, Israel was sometimes referred to as Ephraim—the name of its largest tribe. And near the end of its history, it was also called Samaria—the name of its capital city.) Hosea was the last prophet God sent to Israel (Samaria) to warn them about the disaster they were about to experience unless they returned to Him. But their King, Jeroboam II, refused to listen. When he died, he left behind a kingdom that was politically strong on the outside but spiritually weak on the inside. It began to collapse as immoral, power-hungry tyrants fought for the throne. The new king was Zechariah. (Note: this was not the prophet Zechariah who was murdered by King Joash of Judah—see #159 - June 8; nor was he another prophet with the same name who later ministered in Israel—see #198.) This Zechariah was Jeroboam II’s wicked son. He was the fourth and last of Jehu’s descendants that God had promised would reign in Israel (see #156 - June 5). He was on the throne for only six months before he was brutally murdered by a man named Shallum—a captain in his own army. Then Shallum reigned for only one month before he was assassinated by Manahem. Manahem was the most evil and brutal of all the kings. He attacked his own people. When city leaders did not immediately obey his commands, he flew into a rage and killed everyone in the city—including pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. When Assyria invaded Israel for the first time, Manahem offered them a lot of money to leave peacefully. Assyria’s King Pul was satisfied since the Israelites would now be his vassals, so he ordered his troops to return home. As vassals, the Israelites were supposed to pay taxes to King Pul every year. Manahem collected the money from his countrymen, but he kept a lot of it for himself. He ruled for ten years before he died of unknown causes. Manahem was succeeded by his son Pekahiah who ruled for two years before Pekah, one of his chief officers, assassinated him and took the throne. Pekah was a strong military leader and was able to stay on the throne for 20 years. But he was evil—just like the kings before him. He invaded the southern kingdom of Judah, and in one day killed 120,000 of their soldiers. By then, King Pul of Assyria (who later renamed himself Tiglath-Pileser—see #169) was no longer satisfied with the amount of money that Israel was paying in taxes. He marched his Assyrian army into Israel and claimed some of the best land for himself. He also attacked the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh that lived on the eastern side of Jordan River. He carried them off as captives, and they never returned (see 1 Chronicles 5:26). As the nation dwindled and was decimated, Pekah continued to rule—until he was murdered by Hoshea. Hoshea was the last king God allowed to rule in Israel! The northern kingdom was no longer a thriving nation. It was reduced to a tiny strip of land about 40 miles long and 30 miles wide. Although He was very patient with the Israelites for a very long time, God finally let them suffer the consequences of their decisions! In 722 BC, Israel was completely destroyed!
God is patient! He provides many opportunities for all of us to know Him and worship Him—just like He did for the Israelites. Is He waiting for you to stop worshiping other things and worship only Him so that He can pour out His blessings on you? Don’t wait until it is too late like the Israelites did!