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Israel, the northern kingdom, continually rebelled against the LORD. From Jeroboam, their first king, to Hoseah, the last, they served idols and made images all over their land. Jeroboam made golden calves for the people to worship instead of going to Jerusalem to worship the LORD. From then until Israel fell, it is said of every king that he walked in the ways of Jeroboam who caused Israel to sin.

During the 200 years of the Northern Kingdom, there were 9 dynasties, or families, of kings and 19 different kings. The last king of each dynasty was murdered by his successor, along with all of his family.

There were great prophets who lived and worked in Israel during this time – but few kings or people listened to them. Elijah and Elisha prophesied to Ahab and his family who introduced Baal worship into Israel and did more evil than any other kings. Michaiah, another prophet, also rebuked Ahab and prophesied how Ahab would die. Jonah, Hosea and Amos prophesied in the days of  Jeroboam II.

All these spoke strongly against the evils of their day and the departures of the nation and its leaders from worshiping and obeying the LORD. Note: Obeying the LORD was much more than worshiping Him as Moses had taught. In fact, several prophets spoke of hearkening to the voice of God being more important than the rituals and sacrifices of worship.

Isaiah, though prophesying in Judah, spoke of Israel’s arrogance:

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel, and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.” (Isaiah 9:8-10)

This happened when Pul, King of Assyria, broke down the wall of Samaria (Israel was also known as Ephraim or Jacob; Samaria was the capital city). This invasion is related in 2 Kings 15:19. It was only a few years after this arrogant boast of rebuilding stronger and better, that Israel was completely destroyed, not because God willed it – but because they would not return to him after warning on top of warning (See Amos 4:6-12).

Our reading today tells why Israel went into captivity, never to return as Israel. They turned to other gods. They became like the nations they had replaced in Canaan. They created “high places” as shrines to other gods all over the land. They sacrificed their children on those altars. They were totally given to idolatry. (How far can America be from being forsaken by the LORD whom our nation is forsaking?)

Amos spoke of how utterly destroyed Israel would be:

For behold, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the earth. (Amos 9:9)

In other words, Israel would be scattered among the nations as dust, and there would be nothing of it left to be identified as “Israel.” It might seem that this meant the STORY came to a dead end, but not so! Amos continued by speaking of a restoration of Israel. In Acts 15:16f, we see this prophecy applied to the Gentiles acceptance into God’s kingdom. Thus, Israel was so lost that it took God’s accepting the Gentiles to bring them back, but bring them back He did! The STORY continued because God is faithful.


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