II Kings 17

Those who forget God may themselves expect to be forgotten.
Those who try to be like the world may expect to be swallowed up by the world.
Those who will not serve God in their own land need not be surprised if they are forced to serve enemies in a strange land.

1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.

2 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him.

3 Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.

4 And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

5 ¶ Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.

6 ¶ In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,

8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.

9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:

11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:

12 For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

13 Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.

14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God.

15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.

16 And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.

17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.

20 And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.

21 For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin.

22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;

23 Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.

24 ¶ And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.

25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the LORD: therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which slew some of them.

26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.

28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima,

31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

32 So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.

33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel;

35 With whom the LORD had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:

36 But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.

37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.

38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.

39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.

41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

2 Kings 17:1-12 – ​The Cause of Israel’s Weakness.

   This chapter reads like a page from the books of the great white throne. Hoshea, the last king of Israel, did not follow in all the evil deeds of his 18 predecessors, but the degeneracy of the nation was too far advanced for anything to arrest its collapse. The dry-rot had eaten its way through the specious covering. Worldly policy was the immediate cause of the nation’s downfall. Had they obeyed God simply and absolutely, they could have trusted him to maintain their independence. But they chose to enter into alliances, now with Syria, and then with Egypt, and so became entangled in the wars of their allies (Hosea 7:11; 9:3, 6; 12:1, etc.).
   Let us read carefully the bill of divorce which the Heavenly Husband gave to the recreant people whom he put away. It is a pathetic document from v. 7 onward; but none can say that Jehovah had not good and sufficient cause for acting as he did. The wonder is that he bore so long with the apostate race. Read the first 3 chapters of Hosea to learn how the divine heart was rent when the hour of separation came: but let us not forget the assurances of Romans 11, that the true Israel shall ultimately be saved.

2 Kings 17:13-26 – ​The End of Stiff-necked Disobedience.

   There are 3 leading counts in this terrible indictment against Judah and Israel: (1) idolatry; (2) the ignoring of the Law; and (3) disregard of the many warnings brought them by prophets and seers. And all were aggravated by the fact that they sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt. How greatly the complexion of our sins is deepened, when we remember the anguish by which we have been redeemed!
   Interwoven with the black catalogue of sin are golden threads of tender love (v. 13). But note the remarkable expression of v. 15, that we resemble the objects we adore (Psalms 115:8). Israel, as we have seen, was never restored. Those that returned to Judah with Ezra were for the most part Jews. Yet many Hebrews became believers in Christ, and were added to the Church at Pentecost and afterward (1 Peter 1:1-2). Paul gives us a far horizon in Romans 11:25-27; and who can tell whether we are not very near that hour of the restoration of Israel and the restitution of all things!

2 Kings 17:27-41 – ​”They Feared the LORD, and Served Their Own Gods.”

   The policy of peopling Israel with other races was intended to keep the land under cultivation, and to break the ties of fatherland, which are the spring of patriotism. Men will not fight for a land which does not pull at their heart-strings. These newly-imported peoples believed that each country was under the care of its own local deity. They therefore deemed it advisable, that, without renouncing their own gods, they should give the God of Israel some sort of recognition. Samaritan religion of this kind is still very popular. Too many people feel that they ought to do something to show their respect for God. They attend to the outward forms of worship, lest they should lose caste; but in their hearts they enthrone worldly and worthless ideals.
   The Jews, as we learn from John 4:9, hated the Samaritans, as a kind of mongrel race. But how generous was the Saviour, ministering to the woman of Sychar, healing the Samaritan leper, and making one of this despised people the central figure in his parable of mercy, thus compelling the world to speak of the good Samaritan!

2 Kings 17:41—These nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images.

   It was a curious mixture. These people had come from Babylon, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and were settled in the land from which Israel was deported. In their desire to propitiate the God of the country, they added His worship to that of their own gods (v. 32), though they did not really fear Him (v. 34). There was an outward recognition of the God of Israel, which was worse than useless. Are you sure this is not a true description of your own position? You pay an outward deference to God by attending His house, and acknowledging His day, whilst you are really prostrating yourself before other shrines. The one originates in a superstitious fear, a desire to stand well with your fellows; but it is in the direction of the other that your heart really goes. You come as His people come, sit as His people sit, kneel as His people kneel; but your heart is far apart, and you only do as you do that you may follow your own evil ways with less fear of discovery.
   With all of us there is too much of this double worship; but let it be clearly understood that it is only apparent, not real. No man ever really serves two masters, or worships two gods. Whatever conflicts with God in heart or life is our chosen god. Whatever appears to share our heart with God really holds our heart. God will never be in competition with another. He must either be all or none.
   The soul that endeavors to divide its service between Jehovah on the first day, and its graven images all the other days of the week, might as well discontinue its religious observances, for they count for nothing: except to blind it to its true condition.