Week 31: The Fall of Israel
Weekly memory verse:
Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (free download)
What is justification?
Justification is an act of God’s free grace in which he pardons all my sins and accepts me as righteous in his sight only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to me.
Day 151: God Is My Strength
Reading: Psalm 71, 73
Psalm 71. This psalm expresses concerns related to old age.
Verse 3. Continually. Psalm 71:1–3 is almost exactly the same as Psalm 31:1–3, with the exception that Psalm 71 adds the word “continually,” emphasizing God’s faithfulness to the aged author of the psalm.
Psalm 73. This psalm begins book three of the psalter, and was written by Asaph, one of the leaders of the Levitical musicians (1 Chron 15:19; 25:1–2).
Despite circumstances of old age or the trials of life, God remains faithful to his people. He may not deliver his people from every bad circumstance of life, but he will restore his people in the end and give them the strength to endure difficulties to his glory.
- In what ways has God been continually faithful to you?
- How can the testimony of God’s faithfulness to a person of old age be encouraging to us?
- In what ways does God give us strength when we face difficult circumstances?
Day 152: Israel Falls
Reading: 2 Kings 17; Psalm 74
2 Kings 17, Verse 6. Carried. According to Assyrian records, Assyria captured 27,290 Israelites and deported them to different locations in the empire. This occurred in 722 b.c.
Verse 19. Judah. The author includes Judah in his explanation for the exile, even though Judah’s captivity would not occur for another 80 years.
Verse 24. Samaria. Samaria was resettled with foreigners, just as God had predicted (Deut 28). These people intermarried with Jews who had been left behind, becomes the Samaritans, who were later hated by New Testament Jews.
Israel’s defeat was directly traceable to the sin of Jeroboam, which the nation never corrected. Out of convenience and pragmatism, Jeroboam had established syncretistic religious practices, mixing pagan worship with the truth worship of Yahweh. This had inevitably resulted in eventual idolatry, leading to the nation’s ultimate demise.
- What led the people of Israel into idolatry?
- In what ways do the problems of Israel resemble problems with Christian worship today?
- Was God’s punishment of Israel just?
Day 153: Hezekiah Destroys the High Places
Reading: 2 Kings 18–19; Psalm 75
2 Kings 18, Verse 4. High places. Hezekiah was the first king of Judah to destroy the high places. Hezekiah’s faithfulness to the Lord may have been the only thing keeping Judah from suffering the same fate that Israel had at the hand of Assyria.
Verse 17. The Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh. Tartan is a title for the Assyrian general, Rab-saris was a palace official, and Rabshakeh meant “commander.”
Verse 22. High places. The Rabshakeh wrongly assumed that Hezekiah’s destruction of the high places limited the opportunity for the people to worship their God.
Chapter 19, Verse 2. Isaiah. This is the first reference in Kings to this important prophet. He had been ministering in Judah since the reign of Uzziah (Is. 6:1), 40 years prior.
Verse 31. The zeal of the Lord. God promises a future messianic kingdom on the same basis as his promise of present deliverance of his people from Assyria.
In stark contrast to the syncretism and idolatry of Israel’s kings, Hezekiah destroyed the high places and reestablished true worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. This pleased the Lord and provided Judah protection from the invading Assyrian armies.
- What differentiated Hezekiah’s reign from the kings of the northern kingdom?
- Why was Assyria successful in defeating Israel but unsuccessful in conquering Judah?
- How does God’s protection of Judah in this account give us hope for the establishment of the future messianic kingdom?
Day 154: God Delivers Jerusalem
Reading: 2 Chronicles 32; Psalm 78
2 Chronicles 32. This parallel account to 2 Kings 19 of Judah’s deliverance emphasizes God’s promise and protection of his people as a result of Hezekiah’s faithfulness.
Verse 21. Angel. This is the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Son of God.
Psalm 78. This psalm emphasizes the faithfulness of God to his people, despite the rebellion and idolatry of past generations.
God protected his people, as he had promised, due to their faithfulness to him. This reveals a contrast to the present condition of the northern kingdom, but tragically, the southern kingdom of Judah would eventually also forsake the Lord and suffer the same destruction as Israel had.
- Why is it important to learn from the tragic mistakes of previous generations?
- What does God’s deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians reveal about him?
- In what ways have the previous generations of our own day forsaken God?
Day 155: Hezekiah Prays for Longer Life
Reading: 2 Kings 20; Psalm 79
2 Kings 20, Verse 9. Shadow. This is the first mention in Scripture of a particular way of marking time, likely referring to some sort of sundial.
Verse 12. Envoys. Second Chronicles 32:31 indicates also that Merodach-baladan sent messengers because he was interested in what happened with the reversal of the sundial.
Hezekiah’s faithfulness to the Lord is rewarded once again through the extension of his life despite his terminal illness. Yet his prosperity led him to flaunt his wealth before the Babylonians, leading Isaiah to prophecy the coming captivity a century later as a direct result of the corrupt leadership of Hezekiah’s son and other descendents.
- Why did God agree to extend Hezekiah’s life?
- Why did Hezekiah show the Babylonians all of his wealth?
- Will God keep his promise and send Judah into Babylonian captivity?