Unfortunately for many of us, even those of us growing up in the church, we have a black hole in the middle of our Bible’s. It’s a place where few ever tread; and those who do, seem to become stuck, preferring to move quickly to the comfortable, well-known, texts of the New Testament. The black hole that I’m referring to is the part of the Old Testament after Proverbs and before the book of Matthew. That section of your Bible that is most likely pristine with no ruffled pages or notes in the margin.
Part of the reason for the confusion of the wisdom and prophetic books of the Old Testament is that we don’t understand when they were written, thus we don’t grasp the context. As we’ve been taking a stroll through the books of 2nd Kings, I hope you’re realizing (if you never have before) that most of the black hole books were written during the books of 1st and 2nd Kings. Much like Acts is telling the history of the Church, and most of the following books occur at some point during the book of Acts, so also, most of the prophetic book of the OT occur during the reign of the kings of the divided kingdoms.
To set our story in it’s context, check out the Bible Project video on YouTube.
Our passage today picks up at about 6 minutes 25 seconds. As you can tell, our passage is a vital part of the story of the Bible. Chapter 17 is when 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel are basically abolished. Why?
Tom Constable’s notes on this passage provide a very clear list of the sins of Israel of which they never repented, despite the many warnings of the prophets.
(1) They feared other gods (v. 7; cf. Exod. 20:3; Judg. 6:10).
(2) They adopted Canaanite customs (v. 8; cf. Lev. 18:3; Deut. 18:9).
(3) They adopted customs condemned by the Mosaic Law (v. 8; cf. 16:3; 17:19).
(4) They practiced secret sins (v. 9).
(5) They built pagan high places (v. 9; cf. Deut. 12:2-7, 13-14).
(6) They made many sacred pillars and Asherim (v. 10; cf. Exod. 34:12-14).
(7) They burned incense to other gods (v. 11).
(8) They did evil things that provoked Yahweh (v. 11).
(9) They served idols (v. 12; cf. Exod. 20:4).
(10) They refused to heed God’s warnings (vv. 13-14).
(11) They became obstinate (v. 14; cf. Exod. 32:9; 33:3).
(12) They rejected God’s statutes (v. 15).
(13) They rejected God’s covenant (v. 15; cf. Exod. 24:6-8; Deut. 29:25).
(14) They pursued vanity (v. 15; cf. Deut. 32:21).
(15) They became vain (v. 15).
(16) They followed foreign nations (v. 15; cf. Deut. 12:30-31).
(17) They forsook Yahweh’s commandments (v. 16).
(18) They made molten calves (v. 16; cf. Exod. 20:4).
(19) They made an Asherah (v. 16; cf. Exod. 20:4).
(20) They worshipped the stars (v. 16; cf. Deut. 4:15, 19; Amos 5:26).
(21) They served Baal (v. 16).
(22) They practiced child sacrifice (v. 17; cf. Lev. 18:21; Deut. 12:31).
(23) They practiced witchcraft (v. 17; cf. Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10-12).
(24) They sold themselves to do evil (v. 17; cf. 21:20).
Though God allowed Judah to remain, she was not innocent (v. 19).
The cult of Jeroboam was a major source of Israel’s apostasy (vv. 21-22).
(From Constable’s Notes on Lumina.bible.org, a great free online resource for personal Bible study)
What is there in my life that my heart longs for more than God?
Is there anything in my life that I need to confess and repent of?
What are the consequences of confession and repentance? What are the consequences of failing to confess and repent?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate