2 Kings 17-18
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay” (R. Zacharias).
God told Israel how it was going to be. When Israel first inherited the land of promise, they understood that their continuation in the land of promise was conditional. If they abandoned God and served others, God told them they would be carried away from the land. This was a promise well-communicated through both Moses and Joshua (Lev. 26:27-28, 33; Deut. 4:25-28; Josh. 23:11-15).
In 733 B.C., the northern kingdom of Israel began to be carried away by Tiglathpilesar, the king of Assyria (2 Kgs. 15:29). In 722 B.C., about a decade after these initial deportations began, the exile was completed as Israel was entirely carried away into Assyria (2 Kgs. 17:6). Why did this happen? The reason for their exile was “because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God” (2 Kgs. 17:7). 2 Kings 17 outlines several different ways that Israel had sinned:
- Israel digressed to become as one of the pagan nations which the Lord before drove out of land (2 Kgs. 17:8).
- Israel built their own places of idol worship (2 Kgs. 17:9-10).
- Israel superstitiously sacrificed their own sons and daughters and practiced divination, engaging in wicked things which provoked the Lord to anger (2 Kgs. 17:11, 17).
- Israel deliberately disobeyed the Lord by despising and abandoning God’s commandments (2 Kgs. 17:12, 15).
- Israel stubbornly ignored the Lord’s warnings which he gave through the prophets (2 Kgs. 17:13-14).
It was the combination of all of these factors which led to Israel’s exile to Assyria.
“Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only” (2 Kings 17:18).
The southern kingdom of Judah held on a little longer. They were carried off by the Babylonians during their conquests from 606-586 B.C.
Among other things, this is what sin accomplishes within our lives — it displaces us. Sin displaces us from God. “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). Sin displaces us from the blessings of the Lord. “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). Sin displaces us from all that is good. “Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25).
Israel had to learn this lesson the hard way. Their sins took them farther than they ever wanted to go, kept them longer than they ever would have liked to stay, and cost them so much more than they would have ever wanted to pay. We must seize our present opportunity to learn from their wicked example and wholly commit our ways to the Lord (Prov. 3:5-6). The good news is that God is patient with all of us (2 Pet. 3:9). He has provided us with the blessed opportunity to love Him with all of heart, soul, and mind (Mt. 22:39). We all must repent of our sinful ways and and turn to Him for mercy (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31). By adhering to His word and abiding in His Son Jesus, we can be right where we would forever want to be rather than being taken away into a place we would rather not be (cf. Eph. 1:3; Rev. 21:8).