Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Israel's Last Chance

"The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years" (2 King 17:5).

Jehu’s dynasty lasted longer than any other in northern Israel. He reigned for 28 years, his son Jehoahaz 17 years, his grandson Jehoash 16 years, and his great-grandson Jeroboam II 41 years. This long period of relative stability enabled the remnant church to develop somewhat, and during the reign of Jeroboam II, three great prophets emerged from the remnant: Hosea, Amos, and Jonah.

That Jehoash would name his son Jeroboam (or perhaps that Jeroboam took that name as a throne name) indicates that the official state religion of Israel continued to be the syncretistic combination of Baalism and Yahwism. This kind of semi-Baalism was a perpetual violation of the second commandment, for it involved the supposed worship of Yahweh by means of idols and images. The second commandment states that those who worship through images will feel God’s wrath to the third and fourth generations, and it was in the fourth generation after Jehu that his line was broken off: The son of Jeroboam II, Zechariah, reigned only six months before being overthrown in a coup.

Throughout the reign of Jeroboam II, the remnant prophets, Hosea and Amos, warned that if there were no repentance, God would destroy the nation. The prophet Jonah was sent to Assyria to preach repentance there, and that nation temporarily turned to the Lord. As a result, Assyria was built up culturally and became a powerful nation. In this way, God raised up the scourge He would use against Israel.

Because Israel did not repent. God cursed her with disastrous civil wars. Shallum slew Zechariah and reigned one month. Menahem slew Shallum and reigned 10 years. Assyria raided during his reign and decapitalized the nation. Menahem’s son Pekahiah reigned two years. Pekah slew Pekahiah and reigned 20 years. Assyria raided again during Pekah’s reign and took several key cities. Hoshea slew Pekah and made peace with Assyria. Then he secretly made a treaty with Egypt, and Assyria besieged Samaria, killed Hoshea in the ninth year of his reign, and destroyed the nation of northern Israel. During these years, however, the faithful members of the remnant church moved south at the invitation of Judah’s kings and were spared.

God always protects His church, sometimes by giving her a time of stability and growth, and sometimes by moving her out of the way of judgment. God also gives nations many opportunities to repent, but if they don’t, He eventually gives them over. God has not changed, and His ways have not changed either. Remember that personal repentance is the first step to national repentance.