Today’s Scripture Focus: 2 Kings 17:(1-6) 7-14
Today’s scripture focus chronicles the reign of Hoshea, the last king of Israel . Remember that Israel used to be one unified kingdom under David and Solomon. After Solomon’s death, his son raised the taxes of the ten northern tribes, while exempting his own tribe, Judah, from paying any! This led to the civil war, and the ten northern tribes broke away. As a result, there were now two nations of Jews—Israel in the north and Judah in the south. In order to keep their citizens from defecting to Judah, the king of Israel built temples where the people could worship locally, rather than travel to Jerusalem.
Without a connection to the feasts and fasts observed at Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the kings and people soon fell into pagan idol worship. While David’s descendants remained on the throne in Judah, Israel was constantly changing kings and royal dynasties through rebellion, assassination, and war with surrounding nations. Israel’s last king Hoshea took the throne after killing Pekah, who had killed Pekahiah before him! It is recorded of Hoshea that he did “evil in the eyes of the Lord”, but not as much as the guys who came before him! However, being not as bad as somebody else was not enough to spare Hoshea and save Israel.
Under Hoshea, Israel had been paying tribute to Assyria, the most powerful empire in the world at the time. However, Hoshea tried to get a better deal by forming an alliance with Egypt. When the Assyrian king found out, he put Hoshea in prison. After three years of war, Assyria conquered Samaria, the capital of Israel. Assyria’s custom was to remove a large percentage of the natives of conquered lands and scatter them across the empire, while resettling the land with foreigners. This is what happened in Israel. The descendants of the remaining Israelites and foreign immigrants eventually became the despised Samaritans of Jesus’ day.
The second half of chapter 17 explains why Israel was conquered and exiled. They had failed to remember. When Israel built their own centers of worship instead of following God’s plan, people no longer heard the story of how God had delivered them. They quit studying the covenant and the Law. Everybody did what was right in their own eyes. Every household had their own gods and own ways to worship that god, including prostitution and child sacrifice! God sent prophets to warn the people, but in their stubbornness they refused to listen. God will only allow sin for a season. God is patient, but eventually all sin leads to destruction.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Israel forgot about God, and it eventually led to their downfall. Do you see parallels between Israel and our culture today?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?