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God Will Not Be Mocked!

Scripture says that all the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord. King Hoshea is one example.

2 Kings 17:1-6

Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight… 3 King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea… 5 Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. 6 Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. (New Living Translation)

Usually there are natural explanations for why things happen. However, we must not forget that these are not the only reasons. There is always a spiritual component to the circumstances we see. Ultimately, Scripture reveals the reasons for Israel’s political and economic failure. Israel fell because of spiritual disobedience. Listen to the way Scripture puts it.

2 Kings 17:7, 13-17

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God… 13 Again, and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees— 14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. (NLT)

The Assyrians conquered Israel because Israel had "sinned against the Lord their God." They had walked away from Him. Now the Northern Kingdom had not always been terrible. They got that way step by step. For two hundred years, there had been spiritual decisions that brought the people further and further away from God. It started with making worship more convenient, then by covering all their bases and worshipping other gods, and then other steps. Finally, at the end, they were sacrificing their little boys and forcing their little girls into religious prostitution. That is evil. Now, what do you think God does when His people start acting like this? He judges them. The writer of 2nd Kings says this, “Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land.” (2 Kings 17:18) (NLT)

These are tough words to read. I mean, doesn't God love his children? Why would a loving God do these things? How could he judge his people so harshly? We do not like to think about a God that judges. We would rather think about God's love. But when we think that way, we forget one important reality. Judgment is part of love. What do I mean? You cannot love if you do not judge. They go together. Judgment comes from love. Let me try to illustrate this biblical principal. There was a time when my daughters were young, and I was trying to get a feel on what sports they might be good at. I remember setting up a T-ball stand in the backyard and putting a whiffle ball on it and teaching them how to swing the plastic bat to connect with the ball, you know hand-eye co-ordination. Now, let us imagine that they decide it is more fun to hit each other with the bat rather than the ball on the T. I look outside and I see each of them with a plastic baseball bat swinging away, aiming for each other's head. If I am a good parent, what do I do? I go outside and I take their baseball bats and I say that they cannot play with these anymore today. I gave them something good and they were using it to hurt each other, so I took it away. I judged them and I took away the tools of their evil actions. Why? Because I love them. I don’t want them to hurt each other.

This is what God did to His people. He gave them a job to do and the resources to do it. But they took their land and their money, and they hurt each other with it. They oppressed each other. They sacrificed their kids. So, He took those things away. He destroyed the high places. He ruined the sanctuaries. They abused the land He had given them, so He said they could not live there anymore. He did all of this through the hands of the Assyrians. Look, I admit that talking about God’s judgment makes us feel uncomfortable, but I want you to realize that we should be far more frightened of God’s apathy than His judgment upon His children. I mean, don’t you want a God who cares enough to not allow you to stray too far? I think it is far worse to have a God who does not care.

Later in history, the son of God, who is God become man, will hang on a tree. He will be laughed at. He will be spit upon. They will yell at him, "If you really are the son of God, then save yourself. Come down from that cross." And he will not respond. Through faith He will finish the task God the Father gave to Him. He will sacrifice Himself for your sins so that you might gain eternal life.

The northern tribes were judged for walking away from God. And Jesus rose from the dead. Our God is different. He is real. He is powerful. Following Him does matter. We worship a God that is strong. A God that is powerful. A God that steps in when necessary. We worship a God who cares enough to save us from destruction.

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