The Fall of a Godly Nation
An Introduction to a Series of Articles on Ancient Israel and Judah That Parallel Our Modern Day
Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “The Fall of a Godly Nation” along with nine other articles and is available for purchase in Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
For quite some time I have been reading and studying chronologically the section of Scripture that deals with the time period 750 BC to 586 BC. Israel’s glory years led by David and his son Solomon had long ended and were followed by two monarchies split into northern and southern kingdoms after the northern tribes would not accept Solomon’s son and David’s grandson, Rehoboam, as their king. Instead the northern tribes brought back Jereboam from Egypt as their king and hostilities existed between the two kingdoms for an extended period of time.
Gradually each of the kingdoms eroded, falling further away from God and into idolatry. There were periods where hope sprung forth, only to be quenched again and again by a return to sinful degeneration. A number of prophets warned of the impending punishment because of Israel’s failure to keep their covenant with Yahweh.
Throughout the period Israel and Judah basically served as vassal states first to the Neo-Assyrian Empire, then to the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Ultimately both kingdoms fell to their enemies and most of the survivors were swept away into captivity and pseudo-slavery reminiscent of their time in Egypt.
Portions of a number of Old Testament Scriptures record the events for the time period including 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Isaiah, Zephaniah, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Jeremiah, Proverbs, Hosea, Nahum, Habakkuk, Daniel, Ezekiel, Lamentations, Obadiah and Psalms.
The northern kingdom of Israel was under constant attack from Assyria for decades. With the sacking of Samaria (the capital city of Israel) in 722 BC, all ten tribes of the northern kingdom fell to the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The long and bloody warfare leading to their fall was conducted in multiple waves by the Assyrian monarchs Tiglath-Pileser III (747-727 BC), Shalmaneser V (727-722 BC), and Sargon II (722-705 BC). The Bible records that Israel’s defeat was because “… the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God … (see 2 Kings 17:5-12).”
Meanwhile, the Southern Kingdom of Judah, consisting of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, was still standing, though weakly. The Assyrians attempted to take the city of Jerusalem during their Northern campaigns in Israel, however, God did not yet allow that to happen. BUT, Judah would not escape God’s punishment … and for much the same reason as that of Israel. In 2 Kings 17:13-14 the Bible records “Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by ALL of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn 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.” Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.“
Judah, just like Israel, adopted and tolerated the worship of pagan gods from their surrounding neighbors. Unholy alliances with foreign governments and politically motivated marriages were common in that day in an attempt to protect their home land from foreign invasion. The kings of Judah even allowed idols of other gods to be placed in the Temple to be worshiped side by side with Yahweh, the true and only God.
Sanctuaries were built in what the Scripture calls “high places” dating back to Solomon’s time. These “high places” were worship and sacrifice centers for pagan gods. Even child sacrifices to the pagan god Molech took place (see my article “On Child Sacrifice“) at Tophet, the cultic site in the Valley of Hinnon (2 Kings 23:10) on the south side of Jerusalem ultimately known as Gehenna (hell fire) in New Testament times.
Because of both their individual and collective sin, Judah ultimately fell to the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Four deportations of Judah’s Jews took place between 605 BC and 582 BC and the captivity lasted for 70 years before they began returning to their homeland after the fall of Babylon to the Persians under King Cyrus.
Scripture: (all NKJV unless otherwise noted)
Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Isaiah 29:14-16 – 14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.”15 Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, And their works are in the dark; They say, “Who sees us?” and, “Who knows us?” 16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
The problems for Israel and Judah dated back to the time when they entered the Promised Land. God gave them that land, told them to occupy it and to purge it of ALL of its present inhabitants. However, thinking they knew more than God, they left many of the pagans alive. Over time their sin compounded as they intermarried with the foreigners often adopting the worship of their gods alongside of Yahweh.
God had clearly shown them “… what is good” and “… what the Lord require(d) of them … (Micah 6:8).” But they thought that they could “cheat” God by applying their own definition of what is good and what God required of them. They continued in their sin compounding their situation further, all the time thinking that their ways and solutions were better than those of God. Sounds familiar doesn’t it!
The prophet Isaiah spoke to them repeatedly, as did others, about their folly and the application of their own wisdom over God’s wisdom. Through Isaiah God told them “… their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden” (Isaiah 29:14). The foolishness of their ways in thinking that they knew more than God is clearly seen in God’s further statement in verses 15-16: “15 Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, And their works are in the dark; They say, “Who sees us?” and, “Who knows us?” 16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
The gradual erosion and sinful decay of Israel and Judah ultimately led to their complete downfall including the devastation of their precious Promised Land, captivity in an unfamiliar foreign country, and forced slavery to their captors.
I see such a strong parallel between Israel and Judah to our modern-day world. In particular, the United States of America … so blessed by God over our history … has turned almost totally away from God’s teachings. Only a remnant remains faithful and lives in accordance with God’s commands. Our government and our national news media even discriminate against Christians while at the same time demanding and protecting the rights of other religions such as Islam. From all appearances, the USA is over the line with God as a nation. God must look at us in ALL of His righteousness and weep. We depend on our “wise men” who are out of touch with Almighty God, constantly bickering with each other, hardly ever agreeing on anything, substituting their own wisdom over that of God. In God’s righteousness He will not continue to overlook our individual and collective sin. There are consequences that must and will be paid here on earth and eternally.
As Christians there are many lessons we can learn from the fall of Israel and Judah. As a direct result of my study I have quite a number of topics in mind that I plan to develop into articles in the future, Lord willing. The first set of articles will deal with a portion of the time period when King Hezekiah of Judah and his strong Assyrian adversary, King Sennacherib reigned. As always, the articles will be based on Scripture and include a Reflection that draws parallels to our modern times. Here’s my ambitious list of the topics, not necessarily listed in order, that I want to cover:
- The Fall of a Godly Nation – An Introduction to a Series of Articles on Ancient Israel and Judah That Parallel Our Modern Day
- Revival Before the Fall – Hezekiah Brings Reforms and Revival to Judah
- Successful Execution of the Wrong Plan – Hezekiah’s Tunnel
- Intentional Deceit – The Lies and Intimidation of Sennacherib
- The Folly of Not Trusting God – Isaiah Pronounces Judgement
- God Listens and Restores – Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery
- Lest Any Man Should Boast – Sennacherib Blasphemes Jehovah
- Parading Your Own Glory – The Consequences of Hezekiah’s Pride
- Passing the Mantle – The Failure of a Godly Father
- Conclusion: Is It Too Late for America?
I am excited about the message of these articles and look forward to completing them! It will take me some time as I have again begun working on my third book, Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul, which will include an extensive updated article on Evangelists Seth and Bessie Sykes.
Look for the next article in this series soon.
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Other Christian Articles by Jim Davenport:
- Calling Evil Good – The Abortion Tragedy
- God Came Down to Our Place – A Christmas Devotion
- OMG – “Oh, My God!
- When a : (colon) is not a colon – Medical Update
- Moving On – In Accordance With God’s Will
- If I Were The Devil
- From Persecutor to Persecuted
- The Spindly Grapevine
- Our Source of Courage
- Be Strong in The Lord
- God is Faithful
- Our Comforter
- God Will Provide
- In His Time
- God’s Solution for Anxiety
- Facing Tough Times
- Is Anything too Hard for God?
- Do Not Fear
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- His Grace is Sufficient for Me
- Become A Christian
- Sin’s Earthly Consequences
- Fully God, Fully Man!!
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