Wednesday, February 22, 2023

2023.02.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 17

Read 2 Kings 17

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year of what king of where, did who become king of whom, where, for how long (2 Kings 17:1)? What did he do (2 Kings 17:2)? In whose sight? But not as whom? Who did what at that time (2 Kings 17:3)? What did Hoshea become? Doing what? But what did the king of Assyria uncover (2 Kings 17:4)? With whom did Hoshea ally himself? What did he stop doing? What did Shalmaneser do to Hoshea? What did he do to Samaria (2 Kings 17:5)? For how long? Then what did he do to Israel (2 Kings 17:6)? Where did he put them? What had Yahweh done for them (2 Kings 17:7)? But what (at least eight things) had Israel done in return (2 Kings 17:7-12)? According to the statutes of what two entities (2 Kings 17:8)? Like which nations (2 Kings 17:11)? Whom had the Lord sent to rescue them, how (2 Kings 17:13)? How did they respond to this preaching (2 Kings 17:14)? Like whom? What did they reject (2 Kings 17:15)? Like whom? What did they leave (2 Kings 17:16)? In what three stages? How far did it end up going (2 Kings 17:17)? What did Yahweh do at this point (2 Kings 17:18)? Who was left? But what were they doing (2 Kings 17:19)? Like whom (verse 19)?So how many of the seed of Israel did Yahweh reject (2 Kings 17:20)? By doing what? How had this begun in the north (2 Kings 17:21)? Whom did they make king instead? But what did Jeroboam do? And what did Israel do (2 Kings 17:22)? And not do? Until what (2 Kings 17:23)? As foretold by whom? Where is Israel at the time of writing? Whom did Assyria bring to do what (2 Kings 17:24)? And Whom did these not fear (2 Kings 17:25)? What did Yahweh do to them? To what conclusion do they come (2 Kings 17:26)? What solution does the king of Assyria come up with (2 Kings 17:27)? Who become their ironic teachers (2 Kings 17:28)? What do the nations continue to do in addition (2 Kings 17:29-31)? Even unto what point? What do they now add (2 Kings 17:32-33)? Whose way of worshiping Yahweh do they learn (cf. verse 32b)? How does 2 Kings 17:34 summarize the Samaritan worship? Whose commandments do they not obey? How had Israel gotten its start? What had He said not to do (2 Kings 17:35)? Who had given particular commandments for how they should worship (2 Kings 17:36-37)? How does He define worshiping Him in a different way (2 Kings 17:38)? How had He promised to reward obedience (2 Kings 17:39)? But what did they, and the new Samaritans, do (2 Kings 17:40)? In combination with what (2 Kings 17:41)?

What should we take away from this summary of the fall—and ongoing apostasy—of the residents of the northern half of the land? 2 Kings 17 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these forty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord continues to mercifully warn and urge the residents of the land to worship Him only in the way that He has commanded. 

The “to this day” of 2 Kings 17:22, and again the “to this day” of 2 Kings 17:41, help us understand the purpose of this passage. The Holy Spirit is recounting history, in mercy, as an invitation to the readers of the book not to suffer the same consequences as Israel and Judah. By the time this is written and delivered, Israel and Judah are gone. One of the reasons is that they did not heed the merciful reminder that other nations had committed the same sins and suffered the same fate. 

But as we see in the chapter, there’s a new set of residents making the same old mistakes. So the Spirit invites the reader (which is currently you, dear reader) to learn the lesson the seed of Israel didn’t learn. Behold the various mercies of God, and respond in the manner prescribed in Romans 2:4. Repent!

The mercy of the Lord to deliver us. The subjugation, siege, destruction, and exile of Israel is recounted in 2 Kings 17:1-6, but we mustn’t see the politics related therein as the cause. The text tells us the cause in 2 Kings 17:7. They had sinned against Yahweh. Who is Yahweh? Their God Who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh. This is very similar to the language of Exodus 20:2 and reminds us that God gives us His commandments against the backdrop of deliverance. Failure to remember His salvation leads to sin, and every sin is inherently a failure to remember His salvation.

The mercy of the Lord to establish us. The Lord had not only saved them out of Egypt. He had cast out nations in order to establish them in their land. 2 Kings 17:8 is analogous to 2 Kings 17:6b; if they will not obey Yahweh, Who placed them in their land, then He will give them over to Assyria, who will place them in another land. What do we have that we have not received? Everything that we have has been given to us by God. Even ourselves. We must remember that we are not our own; we are bought with a price.

The mercy of the Lord to give us good commandments. Yahweh had added another mercy to deliverance and provision: commandments (2 Kings 17:15a, 2 Kings 17:16a). And when they had turned from them, He sent them new prophets to urge them back to keeping them (2 Kings 17:13). Even now, the Lord continues to give us His good Word. Will we have grace from Him to receive it with meekness, as the implanted Word that is able to save our souls (James 1:21–26)? Or will Scripture like 2 Kings receive the pocket-veto of laziness, or of endless qualifications about why it doesn’t really apply to us? And, then, whom will we have to blame when our family ends up outside the covenant, or our congregation’s lampstand is removed?

The mercy of the Lord to give bad examples as a warning. Israel had the warning example of Egypt (2 Kings 17:7). They had the warning example of the Canaanites (2 Kings 17:8). They had the various warnings of disciplinary providence that accompanied the messages of the prophets referenced in 2 Kings 17:13. The southern kingdom of Judah had the warning example of the northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 17:19). Israel had had the warning example of what had happened even to the line of David (2 Kings 17:21a), but Jeroboam immediately instituted the Yahweh-worship traditions that went back to Aaron (2 Kings 17:21-22, cf. 1 Kings 12:26–33; Exodus 32:4–6).

2 Kings 17:24-41 show us that if God had wanted mixed worship, He could get it just as easily from pagans. The mixture that we see in this passage doesn’t differ much from the mixture that Israel had offered in its latter days. It is an irony that priests from Jeroboam’s made-up lines (2 Kings 17:27-28; the Levites had gone south, cf. 1 Kings 12:31; 2 Chronicles 11:13–14) were sent back into the land to reproduce the same mixed religion complete with yet another new priesthood (2 Kings 17:32). They did not learn from the former examples (cf. John 4:21–22). Will we (cf. John 4:23–26)?

Who has given us the way to worship? By what mercies does He urge us to worship only that way?

Sample prayer: Lord, we praise You for the mercy of deliverance, the mercy of provision, the mercy of commandment, the mercy of warning, and the mercy of history. Forgive us for how slow we are to respond to the riches of Your goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Grant, by Your Spirit, that Your goodness would lead us to repentance, through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”

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