"Because you have forsaken the Lord,
He has also forsaken you."
As I've told you before, I am reading the Bible (again) from Genesis to Revelation; only this time it is with a much deeper yearning and a more discerning heart for God's message to me, a repentant sinner. I am on the tail end of the Books of 1 and 2 Kings/1 and 2 Chronicles, and I'm sure you will understand when I say that it takes some serious study to keep all the kings and their deeds separate.
First of all, it is important to glean that 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings give a political history of Israel and Judah, while 1 and 2 Chronicles present a religious history of the Davidic dynasty of Judah. While it is easy to think that it all runs together and the narrative regarding the various kings reads the same, nothing could be further from the truth. After Solomon died and the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah came into existence, there are stark differences in the two kingdom's attitudes toward worship, the way they ran their governments, and how their rulership affected the people they served.
There were 19 Kings that ruled the northern kingdom of Israel, beginning with Jeroboam, an Ephraimite, to Hoshea, the last king of Israel, before it was captured by Assyria. The history of the nation of Israel, and its subsequent kings can be summed up in 2 Kings 17:22-23 ... For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
As hard as it is to believe, there was not one of the 19 kings of the Kingdom of Israel that was not wicked. As you read their histories in the Bible, it is noted of each of them, "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, and followed the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin." It is important that we know exactly what those sins of Jeroboam were, so great were they that they infected the entire history of the nation of Israel.
Here's what he did: 1) He urged the people to turn from worshipping at God's Temple in Jerusalem to temples he established in the kingdom of Israel; 2) He made two golden calves and called them "gods", leading his people to worship false gods and idols; 3) He established shrines to these false gods; 4) He appointed priests that were not from the tribe of Levi as God had commanded; and 5) He proclaimed his own feast day, and made sacrifices to false gods on unholy altars, using priests not sanctified by God.
To a Holy God who had made a covenant with the Israelites in return for them obeying His statues and commandments for all their generations, this was obvious rebellion. The consequences are stated in the chosen Scripture for today ... Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.
The consequences were profound. Jeroboam had been given the great commandment to reign over the 10 tribes of Israel. But his idolatry and apostasy caused him not only the life of his son, but would result in the scattering of the 10 tribes of Israel unto this day.
The nation of Judah shares in the sins of Israel with their own kings who embraced idolatry and apostasy -- with a striking difference. From Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, to Zedekiah, there were actually eight good kings who walked in the ways of the Lord. From King Asa, who was a righteous man, and who "took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made" -- to good King Josiah who restored the Torah to the Jews, which resulted in the reinstitution of Covenant between God and His people, the restoration of Passover, and reforms in how the people of Judah worshipped the Lord.
But God is a Holy and Righteous God, and the sins of the rest of the kings of Judah, and the people, outweighed the attempts to keep them obedient to the Lord's commandments and statutes. Time and again, the kings of Judah were tempted to follow after false gods, and the Lord would send a word by his prophets and raise up a good king to return the people of Judah to His ways. But God, by His Sovereign plan, tolerated only so much, and as it says in 2 Chronicles 36:16, "But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people; till there was no remedy." King Nebuchadnezzar and captivity in Babylon was their punishment.
What will be ours? For surely, we have sinned against God as greatly as the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Our God is the same God they worshipped, and we know that God is consistent in His commandments and His justice. History has shown us that the northern kingdom of Israel was so rebellious and disobedient that God scattered them. The kingdom of Judah was the only tribe with whom God kept His covenant because they humbled themselves and repented. However, they did not escape discipline and were often weakened before their enemies and exiled. So how will our history be written? Will we remain rebellious and break our covenant with the God of our fathers? Or will we humble ourselves and repent and turn back toward the Lord?
The one thing we need to realize is that those scattered tribes of Israel have not been forgotten by God. He will soon send His Son back to earth to redeem them. All Israel will be saved. The question remains ... what about the other nations of the world, including us?