Through the Bible Day by Day
In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
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 eighteen 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. See Hos_7:11; Hos_9:3; Hos_9:6; Hos_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 2Ki_17:7 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 Hos_1:1-11; Hos_2:1-23; Hos_3:1-5 to learn how the divine heart was rent when the hour of separation came: but let us not forget the assurances of Rom_11:1-36, that the true Israel shall ultimately be saved.
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.
THE END OF STIFF-NECKED DISOBEDIENCE
There are three 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, 2Ki_17:13. But note the remarkable expression of 2Ki_17:15, that we resemble the objects we adore, Psa_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, 1Pe_1:1-2. Paul gives us a far horizon in Rom_11:25-27; and who can tell, in these days when the Turkish Empire is trembling to its foundations, whether we are not very near that hour of the restoration of Israel and the restitution of all things!
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.
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 Joh_4:9, hated the Samaritans, as a kind of mongrel race. But how generous was the Savior, 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!