|International Bible Studies|
LESSON FOR NOVEMBER 2, 1986
The Northern Kingdom Destroyed
KEY VERSE: “Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the Law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” —II Kings 17:13
SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Kings 17:6-8, 13-18
WHEN describing the wickedness of several of Israel’s kings who reigned over the ten-tribe kingdom, the Scriptures state that they followed the way of Jeroboam. Apparently Jeroboam’s unrighteous course was so marked that to compare someone with him was all that was necessary in order to explain his depth of sin.
The division of Israel into the ten-tribe, or northern kingdom, and the two-tribe, or southern kingdom, was from the Lord in the sense that he permitted it as a punishment for their sins, and especially for the sin of Solomon in introducing the worship of heathen gods. The Lord told Solomon that after his death the kingdom would be taken from his family. “Howbeit,” he said, “I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.”—I Kings 11:13
Jeroboam was made king over the ten tribes, which left only two tribes over which Rehoboam ruled. Almost at once the northern, or ten-tribe kingdom, began to deteriorate; for Jeroboam did not walk in the way of righteousness. He induced the people to worship false gods. The Lord said to Jeroboam that he had not followed him, “but hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and has cast me behind thy back.”—I Kings 14:9
During the time of Jeroboam’s reign, the Lord determined that Israel was to be cast off and uprooted from the land, and through the Prophet Ahijah sent a message to the king, saying, “The Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.”—I Kings 14:15,16
All the kings who ruled over the ten-tribe kingdom were wicked, and the nation under their leadership drifted further and further from the path of righteousness and from God.
In Amos 6:1-6 we are presented with a prophecy implying the desolation of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. It is a pronouncement of woe, of doom, upon the kingdom. According to the marginal translation, “woe” was to come upon those who felt “secure in Zion,” and who put their “trust in the mountain of Samaria.”
It was in the mountain of Samaria that Jeroboam, the first king of the ten tribes, established his headquarters. (I Kings 12:25) He went out from there, we are told, and built ‘Penuel’. Many years before this, Gideon destroyed the tower of Penuel. (Judg. 8:17) Evidently it was a center for the worship of heathen gods, and Jeroboam restored it as such. It was in the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea, king of Israel, that the Assyrian armies captured Samaria, and the ten tribes were taken captive to Assyria.—II Kings 18:10-12
The woe pronounced by Amos emphasized that the supposed stronghold of government established by Jeroboam II could not be depended upon to save the nation when the hour of desolation came, even though Israel had been named “chief of the nations.” The prophet then reminds the people to take note what had happened to Calneh, Hamath the great, and Gath of the Philistines. All these had at one time or another been recognized as strong cities, but they had all fallen, and so would Israel.
Gath of the Philistines was the home city of Goliath, the giant who was killed by David. At the time the giant was killed, the army of Israel pursued the Philistines even to Gath. At that time the Lord was fighting for Israel, and no enemy could stand up against them. In the closing days of the ten-tribe kingdom, God had withdrawn his favor from them so they were without protection, with the result that the nation perished.
What a sad end remains for those who refuse continually to hearken to God.