“The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament sheweth His handywork.”
God is longsuffering but there is an end to His patience with man. Over and over He gives time for repentance but eventually His judgment must fall when there is total rejection of Him, His statutes and His Word. A nation that forgets God today will find itself experiencing a similar fate as those nations that willfully rejected Him in the past. It is not a matter of if, but when, if a nation does not repent and turn back to God Who made the heavens and the earth. In 2 Kings 17 is recorded the demise of such a nation that continued to reject God by their own wicked deeds.
“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah [Southern Kingdom] began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel [Northern Kingdom] nine years. And he [Hoshea] did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. Against him came up Shalmaneser, king of Assyria [Iraq]; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.
Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel [Northern Kingdom] away into Assyria [Iraq], and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree: And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger: For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, 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. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven [sun, moon, stars], and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire [human sacrifice], and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.
Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of His sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only. Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made. And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight. For He rent [removed] Israel from the house of David; and [previously] they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king (first king of Northern Kingdom, I Kings 11-12): and Jeroboam drave Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day” (II Kings 17:1-23).
For their continued rejection of God and His Word, 140 years later the Southern Kingdom experienced the same fate as the Northern Kingdom, as they were also carried away and put into captivity under a new Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. It was then the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, the Temple destroyed with fire, and the valuable implements used in Temple worship carried away to Babylon as spoils of war (II Kings 24-25). There are no future blessings for a nation that forgets God unless God intervenes.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones…
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
And that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
The king was dead. He had appointed his son to rule in his stead. Instead of taking the counsel of older men in the kingdom who had served his father well, the son chose to take the counsel of his young peers to rule his newly inherited subjects. A rift ensued that divided the kingdom in two. It was then a new man-made religion was born.
The Temple in Jerusalem had been the place of worship since King Solomon was directed by God to build it, replacing the Tabernacle used in the wilderness. It was a gleaming edifice covered in gold that was seen for miles around as it sat upon the highest plot of land in the city. King Jeroboam, son of a former servant of Solomon, determined that those in the ten tribes of Israel who had followed him in creating the Northern Kingdom need not return to Jerusalem to worship. His fear was that if his subjects returned to Jerusalem for worship they would reunite with Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, his adversary ruling the lone tribe of Judah that remained loyal to the once great King’s son.
It was in the cities of Dan and Bethel of the Northern Kingdom, Jeroboam set up two golden calves reminiscent of Aaron’s golden calf that greeted Moses on his descent from Mt. Sinai upon receiving the Ten Commandments. King Jeroboam said to his people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel.” Not only did he direct his subjects to worship the golden calves he had made, he:
1. “made an house of high places”
2. “made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi”
3. “ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah”
4. “offered (sacrifices) upon the altar”
5. “sacrificing unto the calves that he had made”
Scripture tells us in 1 Kings 11-12 Jeroboam devised his form of false religion in his own heart. It was not the religion of God but of man. Many cults have come and gone throughout the ages with one thing in common… all were devised by men adding to and taking away from Scripture. There is only one True Way of worshipping God the Father, HIS way. Man can devise all kinds of rituals, chants, beliefs, and prayers that have nothing to do with the God Who made heaven and earth. He has clearly written in His Word how He is to be worshipped and adored; any deviation dooms souls to Hell.