Script for the May 13th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast.

Introduction

Welcome to the May 13th episode of the “Enjoying the Bible” podcast. I’m Matt Ellis and I’m the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. 

Today’s reading is in 2 Kings 17-18. Hopefully, you’ve already spent time in God’s Word so let’s get started.

2 Kings 17

As this chapter begins, we are looking at the very last king of Israel. The northern kingdom of Israel is about to cease to exist.

So, let’s begin by reading the first two verses…

2 Kings 17:1-2 (CSB): “1 In the twelfth year of Judah’s King Ahaz, Hoshea son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him.”

So King Hoshea became king and reigned for nine years. He did what the Lord considered evil. And even though he wasn’t as bad as many of the previous kings, the inevitable was now unavoidable.

In verses 3-5, we read that the king of Assyria overpowered King Hoshea and made him a vassal. King Hoshea was seen to be under Assyria’s authority and was responsible for paying yearly taxes to Assyria. However, rather than pay the tribute, King Hoshea sought the King of Egypt’s help. King Shalmaneser heard about this conspiracy and besieged Israel for 3 years.

Then we read…

2 Kings 17:6 (CSB): “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, along the Habor (Gozan’s river), and in the cities of the Medes.”

As I mentioned in yesterday’s podcast, the Assyrians believed that if they resettled a conquered people in another country, those people would lose their national pride and patriotism. They would be much more easily led and manipulated by the Assyrians. 

This is exactly what happened to the Israelites. They were transported, almost certainly on foot, to places that were around 700 or more miles away.

As if there was any serious question about the reason God turned the Israelites over to the Assyrians, the author of 2 Kings tells us why.

2 Kings 17:7 (CSB): “This disaster happened because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they worshiped other gods.”

In other words, God had rescued them from Egyptian bondage so He had every right to expect them to demonstrate their gratitude by following Him, especially since His commands would enable them to flourish. How did they demonstrate their “gratitude?” They worshipped other gods. They worshipped what was not real, replacing the God who WAS real. They acted in such a way as to create a climate of immorality and discord.

OK. So we acknowledge that the Israelites abandoned their God, so He turned them over to the Assyrians. But did He warn them? Did He call out to them to turn from their sin that would lead to judgment?  

2 Kings 17:13 (CSB): “13 Still, the Lord warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep my commands and statutes according to the whole law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through my servants the prophets.’”

Later this year, we’ll get to the prophetic books in the Old Testament. Those guys were constantly pointing out Israel’s sins and calling them to repent. The people of Israel were clearly warned.

As we read 2 Kings 17, it feels like God is building His case for why He was justified to send the Israelites into bondage. We just read that He had warned them over and over. But how did they respond? Did they repent?

2 Kings 17:14-17 (CSB): “14 But they would not listen. Instead they became obstinate like their ancestors who did not believe the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his statutes and his covenant he had made with their ancestors and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves, following the surrounding nations the Lord had commanded them not to imitate. 16 They abandoned all the commands of the Lord their God. They made cast images for themselves, two calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed in worship to all the stars in the sky and served Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire and practiced divination and interpreted omens. They devoted themselves to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight and angered him.”

This is why God was right to send the Israelites into captivity.

2 Kings 18-20 (CSB): “18 Therefore, the Lord was very angry with Israel, and he removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained. 19 Even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God but lived according to the customs Israel had practiced. 20 So the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, punished them, and handed them over to plunderers until he had banished them from his presence.”

So the Lord has explained His line of reasoning for pouring out His wrath upon the Israelites. His reasoning is sound and cannot be debated.

Friend, have you ever wondered what it will be like on the Day of Judgment for those who are not trusting in Jesus to save them? It will probably be something like what we’ve just read. God will point out all of the specific sins that they committed. He will also specify all of the times that He brought them into circumstances that encouraged them to repent and turn to Him. But they refused. So He will justly consign them to Hell.

Please be open today and every day after this to share the good news of the Gospel with people you meet. Be open to the opportunities God will give you to tell others about how they can get right with God so that they never have to experience the terror of standing before God as He consigns them to Hell forever.

Let’s get back to 2 Kings 17…

We are told in verses 21-23 that every king of Israel, from Jeroboam until Hoshea, chose to disobey the Lord even though they were regularly warned by God’s prophets to repent. So, God sent them into captivity.

2 Kings 17:23 (CSB): “Finally, the Lord removed Israel from his presence just as he had declared through all his servants the prophets. So Israel has been exiled to Assyria from their homeland to this very day.”

So the Israelites were forcibly transplanted into lands hundreds of miles away leaving the cities of Israel essentially barren. Most of the people were gone. What happened to that land?

2 Kings 17:24 (CSB): “Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in place of the Israelites in the cities of Samaria. The settlers took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.”

So, citizens and captives from other places, who were not descendants of Abraham, were resettled in Israel’s land.

Further, we are told in verses 25-28 that the people who settled in the land of Israel experienced God’s wrath and cried out to know the God of Israel. 

2 Kings 17:28 (CSB): “So one of the priests they had deported came and lived in Bethel, and he began to teach them how they should fear the Lord.”

What was the result? It’s called syncretism. Syncretism is simply the mixture of two or more religions or schools of thought. In the case before us, the people worshipped the Lord while simultaneously worshipping their own gods.

2 Kings 17:33 (CSB): “They feared the Lord, but they also worshiped their own gods according to the practice of the nations from which they had been deported.”

How offensive is this to God? It would be like a husband who told his wife that he wanted to enjoy the sexual privileges of marriage, but he also wanted to enjoy that act with other women as well. It would be adultery, pure and simple, and would be a slap in the face to his wife. It would be utterly offensive. This is something of what it must feel like to God when people worship Him but also have other “gods” that control their lives.

So what happens when we try to worship the Lord while also having other things in our life that have our allegiance? We would eventually abandon the Lord altogether.

2 Kings 17:34 (CSB): “They are still observing the former practices to this day. None of them fear the Lord or observe the statutes and ordinances, the law and commandments that the Lord had commanded the descendants of Jacob, whom he had given the name Israel.”

Friend, we must look at stories like this and then take an assessment of our own lives. Are we fully obedient to the Lord? Do we recognize that since the Lord saved us and brought us out of slavery to sin that we must now live in obedience to Him from a grateful heart? Are we trying to worship the Lord while allowing other gods to control us as well?

Friend, God will not share His throne with another. He is either King of all in your life, or He is not King at all.

2 Kings 18

After the sadness of Israel’s demise that we observed in the last chapter, the writer of 2 Kings is led by the Holy Spirit to focus again on the southern kingdom of Judah. However, it’s not just any king that we read about. It’s King Hezekiah.

2 Kings 18:1-2 (CSB): “1 In the third year of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem…”

He is one of the two kings of Judah that I greatly respect. Just listen to how the Lord described him.

2 Kings 18:3-6 (CSB): “3 He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for until then the Israelites were burning incense to it. It was called Nehushtan. 5 Hezekiah relied on the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. 6 He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.”

We read in verse 7 that he was so resolute in his obedience to the Lord that he prospered in everything he did. He even rebelled against the powerful nation of Assyria and they were forced to accept their defeat. He also defeated the Philistines. God was working powerfully through him.

Then, verses 9-12 take us back to the northern kingdom of Israel. It tells us, once again, that the Assyrians took the people captive and transplanted them. Why? Just listen to the Lord’s reason for their defeat…

2 Kings 18:12 (CSB): “because they did not listen to the Lord their God but violated his covenant—all he had commanded Moses the servant of the Lord. They did not listen, and they did not obey.”

It’s as if the Lord wants us to see how obedience to Him brings blessings (as with Hezekiah) and disobedience brings troubles (as with the northern kingdom of Israel). 

Of course, we live in a broken, messed up world, so it doesn’t always work out this way. Sometimes bad things happen to the most devout God-followers. And those instances provide us yet another opportunity to determine if we are going to seek the Lord and obey Him or rely upon our own limited resources to fix the problem.

In verses 13-15, Assyria’s King Sennacherib attacked Judah and captured many of its fortified cities. King Hezekiah realized that he was in trouble and threw up the white flag. The king of Assyria demanded eleven tons of silver and a ton of gold and Hezekiah complied, even to the point of stripping the gold off of doors in the Temple.

Yet, the king of Assyria was acting deceitfully. He brought his massive army against Jerusalem anyway.

In verses 19-25, the Assyrian royal spokesman raised his voice and spoke to the people on the city wall. Essentially, every word he said was intended to strip the inhabitants of Jerusalem of any hope. He wanted them to simply give up, open their city gate, and let the Assyrians take them into captivity.

2 Kings 18:26 (CSB): “Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebnah, and Joah said to the royal spokesman, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak with us in Hebrew within earshot of the people on the wall.’”

Essentially, “Please speak to us in your own language because we understand it. But if you continue to speak in Hebrew, our native language, you’ll discourage the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

The royal spokesman essentially responded: “No kidding! That’s what we intended!”

Then, he proceeded to discourage the people from listening to King Hezekiah if he said that the Lord would rescue them. Instead, they should just surrender and let the Assyrians take them off to some lush land hundreds of miles away. Everything would be just fine.

2 Kings 18:36-37 (CSB): “36 But the people kept silent; they did not answer him at all, for the king’s command was, ‘Don’t answer him.’ 37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported to him the words of the royal spokesman.”

So we come to the end of this chapter with the matter unresolved. But because Hezekiah was a man that genuinely relied upon the Lord, we’re going to see him respond in a very positive way in tomorrow’s reading.

Just remember, God is free to bless us when we obey Him. But that doesn’t mean that we will be exempt from bad things coming into our lives. But even those difficulties allow us an opportunity to see if we genuinely love the Lord, sincerely believe that we need Him, and are ready to obey Him even if things don’t make sense. Hezekiah’s example in 2 Kings 19 stands as a powerful example for us to follow when life gets hard.

Prayer 

Lord Jesus, we know all too well that life can get really hard sometimes. But help us in those times to run to You. Please graciously give us the ability to trust in You, to rest in You when those bad times come our way. And may You reward our response by giving us what we need to keep our chin up until You bring us into easier times or until You call us home to be with You. We pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Closing

I hope today’s episode has helped you to understand and enjoy God’s Word so that you can apply it in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The “Enjoying the Bible” podcast is a ministry of the First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida. Check us out at fbcpolkcity.com. See you tomorrow!