Jul. 29. Warnings to Ephraim (Israel) and Jerusalem; Israel Falls

II Kin. 17:1-41; Is. 28:1-29:24

Hoshea became king of Israel after he had led a conspiracy against King Pekah and killed him. That occurred during the last years that Judah’s kings, Jotham and Ahaz had reigned together. As the result of an attack against Israel by King Shalmaneser of Assyria, Hoshea was required to pay a yearly tribute to the Assyrians.

In an effort to get relief from the Assyrian tribute, Hoshea conspired with the king of Egypt instead of looking to God for His help. After being discovered by Shalmaneser, Hoshea was imprisoned and Israel’s destruction was about to begin.

Isaiah pronounced a series of woes against Israel and Jerusalem as he addressed the leaders of Israel as drunkards. “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim…” Lovers of strong drink promote it as a means of enjoying life to the fullest. They fail to present the true picture of fading flowers losing their glorious beauty as drunkards with dulled senses are being trampled underfoot. “They err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean.”

“Woe to Ariel (Jerusalem), to Ariel the city where David dwelt!” Judah, under King Ahaz had fallen into the same sinful practices that had been prevalent in Israel. Isaiah prophesied of great and disastrous destruction that would come against Judah because of their sins. Even Judah’s attackers who fought against Mount Zion would also be brought to ruin and Jerusalem would be restored.

Another woe was pronounced upon those who would seek false counsel instead of relying upon the words of the Lord. Many today seek the approval of men and their guidance instead of searching the Scriptures to learn God’s commandments.

Isaiah continued to prophesy of a new kingdom in Zion (Jerusalem); one that would have a tried and true cornerstone. As a farmer uses tried and true practices of land preparation, sowing and reaping, God had a proper plan for His spiritual house. That spiritual house would not be a physical kingdom as before, but would be a spiritual kingdom, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight…” Those were sad words written about God’s chosen people. They were a people that He had rescued from Egyptian slavery, nourished throughout a forty-year wilderness wandering and settled into a land that He had provided by fighting their wars for them.

Israel just didn’t get it. For hundreds of years later, they were a perfect picture of ingratitude as they murmured, complained and rebelled against all of the rules that God had set for them. Instead of worshipping the Lord according to His will, they worshipped the lifeless idols of the people around them. He had sent prophets to warn them of destruction if they did not turn and obey Him, but those warnings fell upon deaf ears.

God used the king of Assyria to inflict His punishment upon Israel. They were besieged during the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign and taken from their land as captives into Assyria. The Assyrian king then relocated people from other places to inhabit the land that had belonged to Israel.

The new inhabitants of Samaria soon found that they too were being punished because they were worshipping idols instead of worshipping the God of the land. An exiled priest from Israel was brought in to teach the people the rituals of the God of the land. They became like so many people today in that they tried to hold on to a relationship with God while continuing to hold to the customs around them.