Israel Is Scattered by Assyria
JUNE 21 - Nº 172 2 Kings 17
Over and over the Israelite nation chose to disobey the God Who had rescued them out of Egypt and led them to the Promised Land. Although He continually fought for them and took care of all their needs, they refused to stay within the safe boundaries that He provided in the Ten Commandments. When the nation split, the ten northern tribes known as Israel immediately began to worship false gods. Their first king, Jeroboam, set up two golden calves for them in the cities of Bethel and Dan. The Israelites no longer went to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship God (see #132 - May 12). They stayed home and worshiped their own idols. Not one of the 19 kings in Israel’s 209-year history removed those golden calves. Instead, they brought in more idols and built more altars. They even sacrificed their own children to detestable foreign gods! Over and over God sent prophets to warn Israel about the tragic consequences of their sinful choices—but they had never listened. Finally, it was time for God to fulfill the warnings He had given through His prophets. He allowed Assyria to defeat His people! First, the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser, invaded the northern kingdom of Israel and captured the best property (see #170 - June 19). He demanded that the Israelites pay heavy taxes on the land that remained. Hoshea, the king of Israel, formed an alliance with the king of Egypt. Since he knew the Egyptians would protect him, he stopped making payments to Assyria. Not long after this, Tiglath-Pileser died and Shalmaneser became the new king of Assyria. When he discovered that Hoshea was no longer paying his taxes, he stormed into Israel, seized Hoshea, and put him in prison. He rounded up the Israelites and led them out of the Promised Land as shackled slaves. Then he scattered them across the vast Assyrian empire. They never again re-grouped as a nation and later became known as “The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” This was the end of the northern kingdom. Shalmaneser brought in people from other conquered nations to populate the vacant land that had once belonged to God’s people. He renamed this part of his kingdom Samaria. The new occupants knew nothing about God, so they worshiped the idols they brought with them. God was not happy. This was His land. So, He sent lions to drive the intruders out, and many people were killed. An advisor to the king of Assyria realized what was happening and informed him, “These Samaritans don’t know how to worship the God of the land. That is why He sent lions to kill them.” So, King Shalmaneser ordered one of the Israelite priests to go back to the land and teach the people how to properly worship God. Although the Samaritans learned the right rituals, they weren’t willing to give up their old idols. Over time, they created their own religion and built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. (The Samaritans remain separate from the Jews and practice their own false religion—even today!)
Israel failed to be “set apart” in their relationship with God. Instead of being different in a way that attracted other nations to Him, they wanted to be like all the other nations and blend in with them! And, in the end, that’s exactly what God allowed to happen! Are you willing to be different? Holy? Set apart? It makes a huge difference to the way your story will end!