Read 1 Kings:12-22; 2 Kings:1-17; 2 Chronicles 10- 28;
Amos & Hosea
After the death of King Solomon the northern tribes of Israel rebelled against his son Rehoboam. There were now two kingdoms of Hebrews, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. These kingdoms were frequently at war with one another. All the kings of Israel were evil and corrupt, leading their people in worship of other gods and governing poorly. God raised up many prophets to call the leaders and people of Israel back to Himself. These included Elijah (870-845BC) and Elisha (845-800 BC), but even the most promising responses to the prophets were only temporary. The people were not content to worship God alone and walk in His ways. They believed the lie that adding the poison of idolatry to the pure water of His presence would strengthen them. God offered them life, but they were enticed to choose death. Yet, through it all, there were a remnant of Israelites in the northern kingdom who remained faithful to God (1 Kings 19:18, Romans 11:2-4).
Be careful who you form an alliance with, do not be unequally yoked
When Judah formed an alliance with Israel to bring peace between them and jointly defeat their enemies, as Jehoshaphat did with Ahab (1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18), the results were not good. The unequally yoked marriage between Jehoshaphat’s son and Ahab’s daughter led the young man far away from his father’s righteousness. Instead of this unifying of the nation bringing wholeness, peace and prosperity, it opened the door for the sin of Israel to permeate throughout Judah and bring it down as well.
God’s last pleas to Israel to forsake her spiritual adultery came through Amos (765-754 BC) and then the lived prophesy of Hosea and his adulterous wife (758-725 BC). Yet still they would not repent. So, in 722 BC God’s warnings through the prophets came to pass. The Assyrians conquered and decimated Israel (2 Kings 17:1-23). Their king, Sargon, in an inscription found at Nineveh, wrote that he carried away into captivity 27,290 of the survivors (2). Those who had fled and those taken into captivity integrated into the surrounding nations and the northern kingdom of Israel disappeared from history. But that was not the end of the story, God’s plans for Israel would not be thwarted (Ezekiel 37:15-25), those Israelites who remained faithful to God would continue to impact history and have descendants in the land at the time of Messiah.
Lions pave the way for evangelism…
After his conquest of Israel, the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath and Sepharvaim to repopulate the Israeli cities. The land was no longer called Israel, but re-named after its capital Samaria. These newcomers had no knowledge or fear of God. Yahweh sent lions among them, so they begged the king of Assyria to send them a priest from the land to teach them the rituals of the god of the land. One of the Israeli priests who had been taken captive was sent and dwelt at Bethel to teach all the people how they should fear the LORD (2 Kings 17:24-41). The people in Samaria were soon worshipping Yahweh as well as their own gods.
The First Two Names for God in Scripture
Ĕlōhîm is the first word used for God in the scriptures: “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. It is used 2,750 time in the Old Testament. Ĕlōhîm is the plural of Eloah, the word construction is understood to be a plural of majesty and so means “supreme one” or “mighty one”, emphasising God’s greatness, power and prestige. This plurality also hints at the triune nature of the One true God: “Then Ĕlōhîm said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26).
Yahweh יְהוָ֥הis the personal Hebrew name for God, and most significant name in the Old Testament, written 6,828 times; 1,820 of those in the Torah. Because it consists of four Hebrew consonants (YHWH) it is called the Tetragrammaton. This name is built on the word for “I am” and closely connected to God’s covenant with Israel. Yahweh is the eternal self-existent One who enters covenant with His chosen, and as such His divine name should not be taken in vain (Exodus 20:7). After the destruction of the second Temple (AD 70) the doctrine developed in Judaism that God’s name Yahweh was too holy to be spoken. Yahweh is therefore translated LORD (all caps) in most English versions of the Bible. (3) (4)
Yahweh is first used as the name for God in Genesis 2:4 “…When the LORD God (Yahweh ’ĕlōhîm) made the earth and the heavens.”
Proving more faithful
Many of the poor Israelites who had remained faithful to God had also been left in the land. Within a couple of centuries, the peoples in Samaria (the land that had belonged to the northern kingdom of Israel) would be worshipping Yahweh exclusively – proving more faithful than Israel had been. These Samaritans, who had intermarried with the poor Israelites who had been left in the fields, adopted almost all the Hebrew Torah and cultic practices but kept no genealogies like the people of Judah (Jews) to prove their ancestry. The Samaritan Israelites called themselves “the sons of Israel”. They also referred to themselves as “Shomrim” (the keepers), considering themselves to be the keepers of the old ways, the ancient faith, the covenant promise. The Samaritans followed in the footsteps of the northern kingdom of Israel before them in opposing the worship of God in Jerusalem, convinced that the centre of Israel’s worship should be the mount of YHWH’s covenant blessing (Deuteronomy 27:12), Mount Gerizim, where they had built their own temple to Yahweh. They had a fourfold creed:
- One God – YHWH
- One Prophet – Moses
- One Book – Torah
- One Place – Mt Gerizim (8)
The Jews (Judean Israelites) and Samaritans each believed that they were the true worshippers of God and the others were heretics and imposters who had taken the wrong path when the two had separated after Solomon’s death. The Jews were angered that the Samaritans would dare to sacrifice to Yahweh outside of Jerusalem (5).
While the Samaritans of Yeshua’s day were looking for a Messiah, a prophet like Moses who would teach them all things (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), the Jews were looking for a Messiah, a king descended from David who would defeat all their enemies (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible. They are sometimes called the five books of Moses or the Pentateuch. In Hebrew, each of the five books is identified by its incipit (first words). In English the names for each book is derived from the Greek Septuagint (the first translation made into Greek) and reflect the theme of each book.
God’s judgments are for our redemption
During the time of Israel’s destruction God sent Isaiah (760-673 BC) and Micah (738-698 BC) to warn Judah that they would likewise be destroyed if they did not repent (Isaiah 1,3,5,13,22,29,30:1-17,31,57-59,65:1-12, Micah 1-3). Although Assyria and Egypt would give Judah a taste of God’s judgments as a warning, it would be the Babylonians who would destroy the nation if they failed to heed the admonitions to repent with their whole hearts. Yet God’s judgments would be for their redemption, His discipline would teach them to repent and honour Him so that His mercies could again be poured out on them.
These prophets told not only of the coming judgment for Judah’s sin but also of their later restoration and then, even more wonderful, the coming of Messiah and the kingdom of God, a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 2, 4, 7:14, 9:1-7, 11-12, 14, 24:21-23, 25, 32:1-8, 35, 40, 42, 45, 52:7-56:8, 60-62, 65:17-66:2, Micah 4 & 5). The Jews were failing to live as a kingdom of God on earth so God Himself would come and set up His kingdom to restore the earth to His intent and put His Spirit in them and give them new hearts to qualify them for citizenship. Not only Judah, but God would gather all nations and all tongues to come and see His glory and serve Him (Isaiah 66:18-21).
1. Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Grand Rapids, Ml: : Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 1886.
2. Tidwell, Josiah Blake. The Captivity of Judah. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: 26th Aug. 2016.] http://biblehub.com/library/tidwell/the_bible_period_by_period/chapter_xv_the_captivity_of.htm.
3. Levine, Douglas Knight & Amy-Jill.The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us (1st ed). New York : HarperOne, 2011. 0062098594.
4. Gainotti, Charles R. The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH. [book auth.] Roy B. Zuch. Vital Old Testament Issues: Examening Textual and Topical Questions. Oregon : Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012.
5. Hooker, Richard. The Jewish Temples: The Babylonian Exile. Jewish Virtual Library. [Online] [Cited: 26th Aug 2016.] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Exile.html.
6. Santala, Risto. THE PROPHETS OF THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM, JUDAH . [Online] [Cited: 22nd Oct. 2016.] http://www.ristosantala.com/rsla/OT/OT17.html
7. The Bible Study Site. Kings of Israel and Judah. The Bible Study Site. [Online] [Cited: 26th Aug 2016.] http://www.biblestudy.org/prophecy/israel-kings.html.
8. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. The Samaritan woman RECONSIDERED. ISBN: 9781713300366. 2019
In the comments below share your thoughts on some of these questions:
* What does it mean to be faithful to God?
* What paved the way for evangelism in your nation or community?
* What do God’s names Ĕlōhîm, and Yahweh tell us about Him?
* Do you have clashes between different tribes or groups of people in your area? How can peace be brought to that conflict?
* What has God been saying to your nation?
* What has God been saying to the church in your nation?
* Is there something happening in your nation that you see as God’s judgment?