Experiencing Sin’s Consequences

Key Verse: “The LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.”
—II Kings 17:18

Selected Scripture:
II Kings 17:6-16, 18

AFTER THE DEATH OF Solomon the twelve tribes of Israel were eventually divided into two separate factions. Ephraim was the dominant tribe which occupied the land in the north, and the name came to stand for the entire ten tribes of the northern kingdom. Judah, remaining in the south, became the southern kingdom.

Much jealousy and hatred existed between the two groups which led to open hostility, with the ultimate division of tribes. Ephraim was the more unholy of the two groups, and was seen to be more reprehensible because of their lack of respect and appreciation for the many blessings which the Lord had showered upon them. All of Jacob’s descendants, from both divisions, had dishonored God by their disobedience. By God’s direction they were about to experience the consequences of their sinfulness.

The context of this lesson centers around Ephraim’s captivity at the hands of the powerful Assyrian armies. As a result of their captivity the people were deported to other places that had come under Assyrian control. The land of Israel, on the other hand, was repopulated by others who had also been conquered by the invading Assyrians. This was a common tactic used to break the national spirit. It caused confusion among the people who found it nearly impossible to rally together in a common cause to retaliate against their invaders.

The captivity of Ephraim was permitted by God to teach the tribes of Israel an important lesson. They had failed to appreciate his wonderful providence and love for them. They had gone after false gods and teachings, and had become so degraded that they had even allowed their own sons and daughters to pass through the fire believing it to be an acceptable sacrifice to these false gods. God allowed them to have their own way in the matter without any interference from him. He wanted them to experience the hopeless lost condition of the Gentiles. This feeling of being lost and separated from God took on added meaning as they became assimilated into the social structure of the Assyrians gradually losing their identities as privileged Israelites.

Having inherited the Abrahamic Covenant with its blessing of all the families of the earth through a promised seed was a special legacy left to the children of Israel. When the ten tribes separated from the two tribes, however, an important selection became apparent, as recorded, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [epithet of Messiah] come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”—Gen. 49:10

Throughout this period there was greater religious faith within Judah, and the faithful ones in Ephraim removed themselves to identify with Judah. Judah began to be represented by the most devout and faithful of Israel.

The ten tribes had removed themselves from a direct share in the Abrahamic promise. They had experienced the consequences of sin by being cut off from Divine favor, and God continued to provide the way for the eventual birth of Messiah through the loins of Judah.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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