2 Kings 17: 7Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods 8and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced.
Repeatedly, Israel followed not only their priests, but, in addition, also their kings in matters of faith. This brought great trials and tribulations on the nation and indeed brought it to an end. Throughout history, the mixture of faith and power has been disastrous. Time and time again, those in power choose to impose their own particular religion on their subjects AND those who they conquer. Or, they desire to assume some of the roles of priests or prophets, believing they are “divinely appointed”. Rarely has any of this resulted in real benefit to the people or the kingdom of God. The American nation has come closest to keeping politics and religion separate, but it, too, has experienced and is experiencing challenges in this area. Furthermore, these challenges grow greater, day by day. Pray for wisdom for us and our leaders!
[This is not to infer that the nation itself is not rooted in Christianity, as it most certainly is. It merely indicates that the government will not establish a particular denomination, such as Baptist, or Presbyterian, as an official religion.]
2 Kings 15
Series of Kings: Azariah (Uzziah) over Judah
1In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah became king. 2He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3He did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. 5The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death. And he lived in a separate house, while Jotham the king’s son was over the household, judging the people of the land. 6Now the rest of the acts of Azariah and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 7And Azariah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Jotham his son became king in his place.
Zechariah over Israel
8In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in Samaria for six months. 9He did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 10Then Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him and struck him before the people and killed him, and reigned in his place. 11Now the rest of the acts of Zechariah, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 12This is the word of the LORD which He spoke to Jehu, saying, “Your sons to the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” And so it was.
13Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah king of Judah, and he reigned one month in Samaria. 14Then Menahem son of Gadi went up from Tirzah and came to Samaria, and struck Shallum son of Jabesh in Samaria, and killed him and became king in his place. 15Now the rest of the acts of Shallum and his conspiracy which he made, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 16Then Menahem struck Tiphsah and all who were in it and its borders from Tirzah, because they did not open to him; therefore he struck it and ripped up all its women who were with child.
Menahem over Israel
17In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king over Israel and reigned ten years in Samaria. 18He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart all his days from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.
19Pul, king of Assyria, came against the land, and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver so that his hand might be with him to strengthen the kingdom under his rule. 20Then Menahem exacted the money from Israel, even from all the mighty men of wealth, from each man fifty shekels of silver to pay the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria returned and did not remain there in the land. 21Now the rest of the acts of Menahem and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 22And Menahem slept with his fathers, and Pekahiah his son became king in his place.
Pekahiah over Israel
23In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned two years. 24He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin. 25Then Pekah son of Remaliah, his officer, conspired against him and struck him in Samaria, in the castle of the king’s house with Argob and Arieh; and with him were fifty men of the Gileadites, and he killed him and became king in his place. 26Now the rest of the acts of Pekahiah and all that he did, behold they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Pekah over Israel
27In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned twenty years. 28He did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.
29In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon and Abel-beth-maacah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria. 30And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck him and put him to death and became king in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah. 31Now the rest of the acts of Pekah and all that he did, behold, they are written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Jotham over Judah
32In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah became king. 33He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok. 34He did what was right in the sight of the LORD; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. 35Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. He built the upper gate of the house of the LORD. 36Now the rest of the acts of Jotham and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 37In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah. 38And Jotham slept with his fathers, and he was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father; and Ahaz his son became king in his place.
2 Kings 16
Ahaz Reigns over Judah
1In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king. 2Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done. 3But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had driven out from before the sons of Israel. 4He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.
5Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to wage war; and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6At that time Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram, and cleared the Judeans out of Elath entirely; and the Arameans came to Elath and have lived there to this day.
Ahaz Seeks Help of Aram
7So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.” 8Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent a present to the king of Assyria. 9So the king of Assyria listened to him; and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and captured it, and carried the people of it away into exile to Kir, and put Rezin to death.
10Now King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw the altar which was at Damascus; and King Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the pattern of the altar and its model, according to all its workmanship. 11So Urijah the priest built an altar; according to all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, thus Urijah the priest made it, before the coming of King Ahaz from Damascus. 12When the king came from Damascus, the king saw the altar; then the king approached the altar and went up to it, 13and burned his burnt offering and his meal offering, and poured his drink offering and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings on the altar. 14The bronze altar, which was before the LORD, he brought from the front of the house, from between his altar and the house of the LORD, and he put it on the north side of his altar. 15Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, “Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening meal offering and the king’s burnt offering and his meal offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land and their meal offering and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. But the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.” 16So Urijah the priest did according to all that King Ahaz commanded.
17Then King Ahaz cut off the borders of the stands, and removed the laver from them; he also took down the sea from the bronze oxen which were under it and put it on a pavement of stone. 18The covered way for the sabbath which they had built in the house, and the outer entry of the king, he removed from the house of the LORD because of the king of Assyria.
Hezekiah Reigns over Judah
19Now the rest of the acts of Ahaz which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 20So Ahaz slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David; and his son Hezekiah reigned in his place.
2 Kings 17
Hoshea Reigns over Israel
1In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned nine years. 2He did evil in the sight of the LORD, only not as the kings of Israel who were before him. 3Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him, and Hoshea became his servant and paid him tribute. 4But the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea, who had sent messengers to So king of Egypt and had offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year; so the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison.
5Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years.
6In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Why Israel Fell
7Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods 8and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. 9The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. 12They served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” 14However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them. 16They forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. 18So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.
19Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced. 20The LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight.
21When He had torn Israel from the house of David, they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king. Then Jeroboam drove Israel away from following the LORD and made them commit a great sin. 22The sons of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them 23until the LORD removed Israel from His sight, as He spoke through all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away into exile from their own land to Assyria until this day.
Cities of Israel Filled with Strangers
24The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and Sephar-vaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities. 25At the beginning of their living there, they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them which killed some of them. 26So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have carried away into exile in the cities of Samaria do not know the custom of the god of the land; so he has sent lions among them, and behold, they kill them because they do not know the custom of the god of the land.”
27Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Take there one of the priests whom you carried away into exile and let him go and live there; and let him teach them the custom of the god of the land.” 28So one of the priests whom they had carried away into exile from Samaria came and lived at Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.
29But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses of the high places which the people of Samaria had made, every nation in their cities in which they lived. 30The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim. 32They also feared the LORD and appointed from among themselves priests of the high places, who acted for them in the houses of the high places. 33They feared the LORD and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile.
34To this day they do according to the earlier customs: they do not fear the LORD, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances or the law, or the commandments which the LORD commanded the sons of Jacob, whom He named Israel; 35with whom the LORD made a covenant and commanded them, saying, “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down yourselves to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them. 36“But the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down, and to Him you shall sacrifice. 37“The statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall observe to do forever; and you shall not fear other gods. 38“The covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. 39“But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” 40However, they did not listen, but they did according to their earlier custom. 41So while these nations feared the LORD, they also served their idols; their children likewise and their grandchildren, as their fathers did, so they do to this day.
Psalm 74:9 We do not see our signs;
There is no longer any prophet,
Nor is there any among us who knows how long.
10 How long, O God, will the adversary revile,
And the enemy spurn Your name forever?
11 Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?
From within Your bosom, destroy them!
12 Yet God is my king from of old,
Who works deeds of deliverance in the midst of the earth.
13 You divided the sea by Your strength;
You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters.
14 You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
15 You broke open springs and torrents;
You dried up ever-flowing streams.
16 Yours is the day, Yours also is the night;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
17 You have established all the boundaries of the earth;
You have made summer and winter.
18 Remember this, O LORD, that the enemy has reviled,
And a foolish people has spurned Your name.