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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10/6/11 Israel Punished

5 Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria; for three years he besieged it. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria; he carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.  7 This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They had worshiped other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 The people of Israel secretly did things that were not right against the LORD their God. They built for themselves high places at all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city; 10 they set up for themselves pillars and sacred poles on every high hill and under every green tree; 11 there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. They did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger; 12 they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this." 13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law that I commanded your ancestors and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets." 14 They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15 They despised his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their ancestors, and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false; they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do as they did. 16 They rejected all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves cast images of two calves; they made a sacred pole, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. 17 They made their sons and their daughters pass through fire; they used divination and augury; and they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

(destruction of Jerusalem Francesco Hayez 1882)

Thoughts: God did not do this suddenly. He had warned the people by the prophets to not leave God or His ways.  But they left anyway.  There is a natural tendency toward disaray (second law of thermodynamics).  There is a natural tendency for us to leave the order and holiness of God, and go our own way.  The reasons given here for the destruction and deportation was idolatry, child sacrifice, turning from the Law, and more.  These are warnings in our day too.  Those who say that God doesn't care about our tolerance of evil, our sexual immorality, or worship of false gods are wrong.  From a secular viewpoint death and destruction is just (as Steve Jobs said) the making way of the old for the new.  But death and destruction also can teach us to avoid destructive and endangering behavior and beliefs.  Death and destruction sadly come to all of us- even the greatest of us, the smartest of us, the richest of us- like Steve Jobs.  The prophet's warning is to live life the way it is designed to be lived, and in the process to avoid destructive behavior.


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