Today’s reading 2 Kings 15-17.
The northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians two hundred years after they separated from the united kingdom at the time of Solomon’s death. Twenty years before that the tribes to the east of the Jordan River had been captured and deported. The Israelites who did not flee were deported throughout the Assyrian empire (modern-day Syria and Iraq). From the first days of Jeroboam to the last days of Hoshea no godly king led Israel.
The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. 2 Kings 17:5-8
The Assyrians brought foreign people from throughout their empire into the area around Samaria in the northern kingdom to settle there. They even brought in an Israelite priest to help them know how to live in the land.
So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD. Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places … They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. 2 Kings 17:28-29, 33
The situation at this time around 700 BC was exactly what we read about the region of Samaria in the time of Jesus. The people were ethnically different from the Hebrews who had lived there before, and their religion was a strange combination of pagan religions and Jehovah worship.
The fall of Israel, like all events in the Bible, tells us much about the character of men and God.
Leadership matters. The sin of Jeroboam is mentioned repeatedly throughout the account of Israel. Jeroboam, their first king, started the worship of golden calves that he set up in Bethel and Dan so that the people would not travel to Jerusalem to worship. The people of Israel never abandoned this idolatry.
God warns us and gives us opportunities to repent. Prophets such as Elijah and Elisha were prominent throughout the life of Israel, but the people rarely listened to them, and then only for brief periods of time without fully returning to the LORD.
God keeps his word. God promised the people that he would curse them if they did not keep his commands and worship only him. He was patient with them, but in the end their rebellion and idolatry forced him to remove them from the land. They had become no different from the people he had sent them to expel from Canaan.
The worship of God alongside other gods is no worship at all. The practice of worshipping a multitude of gods is common in some religions, such as Hinduism. You could even say that modern America tries to worship God while serving false gods of materialism, pleasure, work, etc. God rejects this as false worship.
Around one hundred years remain for the southern kingdom of Judah before the Babylonians destroy their nation. Still, there are godly kings who will rule during that time, and some of the greatest writings of the Old Testament are yet to come.