Summary: A journey through the Bible in 32 weeks, inspired by Randy Frazee and Max Lucado.
The Kingdom’s Fall
February 6, 2010
The Story 17
As we’ve been moving through the Story, amazingly we are coming towards the end of the OT teaching. It seems like we just got started and we’re very quickly moving through the Bible. We’ve been taking a look at the Bible through a condensed version called The Story. It has given us a broad overview of the Bible and I hope it has helped the Bible to become a little more alive in your eyes.
Well, we’re going to dive in. Last week we looked at the nation of Israel being deported to Assyria. We drew an arrow from Israel to Assyria, indicating they were deported in 722 BC. After 208 years, God’s patience was gone and the nation of Assyria came and defeated the Israelites and took them into exile. The Assyrians also assimilated the people of Israel into their culture and they brought many of their people to live in the land of Israel. This was an intentional act on the part of the Assyrians, as this would further weaken the nation as the Israelites would marry Assyrians and their allegiance to their nation would diminish. This was also another reason for the animosity between the southern kingdom and northern kingdom, which we see in the days of Jesus.
Today as we come to chapter 17, it’s time for Judah to hear God’s plan in light of their persistent evil. A good summary is found in 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, 15 The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place.
16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.
Can you imagine when you get to the place where the God of the universe says, “I’ve done all I can to help you, there is only one remedy to this problem.”
Now we need to listen carefully, and I mentioned something like this a couple of weeks ago, if God continued to bless Judah while they were living so inconsistent with His word and life, it would’ve sent a confusing message about God’s nature and character. God was trying to implant a vision of a kingdom that would come through faith in the Messiah. It would restore the idea He had in the garden of Eden where there was no wickedness, no evil, no mistreating one another; and there would be an open and passionate love for God. But if Judah got away with this kind of living, it would send the wrong message, not only to Judah, but to all the surrounding nations whom God loves . . . about God’s character. So, God must discipline them. He does so with a distinct purpose in mind.
One of the prophets God raised up in the southern kingdom was a man named Ezekiel. He was instructed to give the people a message. It’s found in Ezekiel 36:23, as Ezekiel tells the people of Judah, after you have experienced God’s discipline, and you look back at what God has done, you and the surrounding nations will see my glory. He said,
23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
The express purpose of God’s relationship with Israel was to demonstrate that He’s the One true God and wants people to have a relationship with Him. Many times He’s expressing His love and grace, and here God is expressing His holiness. Standing up for what is right and declaring that He has noticed the evil of Judah and He wants to make sure that all of the surrounding nations know that this is not acceptable in the community of God.
So, what does God do? We learn that God raised up another pagan nation who will do to Judah, what Assyria did to Israel. And over a period of 20 years, they will capture them, burn their city, destroy the temple Solomon built, and they would send them into exile.
If you’ve been marking your maps, then I would like you to take out your maps and mark on them showing the nation of Judah being deported to Babylon in the year 587 BC. This was the year Jerusalem and the temple were finally destroyed.
Now, these last few weeks haven’t been the most up messages, they’re downers, but there’s always a point, a plan to where God is leading us. Yet, these are the true stories about the people of God and their behavior towards God. We can’t just skip over the hard parts of the Bible, we need to open the whole Word, not just the nice parts. That’s part of the beauty of the Bible. God preserved the difficult stories.