Second Kings 17 Commentary
“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.” This is profound! People become what they worship. Idolatry devalues a human being to the point of worthlessness. While human beings may see value in themselves, according to the LORD, the unrepentant sinner remains worthless.
The long-awaited scattering finally comes in this chapter. Worthless Israel is scattered out of the land of promise. It’s not exactly like the scattering out of Eden, the Garden of peace and tranquility, which Adam experienced, but the concept is the same. Canaan should be a land flowing with milk and honey, at least on paper. But what has happened?
Disobedience has happened. The land has become toxic. The worthless nation must leave. This is what the Holy LORD has always done: get rid of worthless objects. The Canaanite tribes had become worthless through an endless list of abominable practices, including child sacrifice. Israel has become the same. So Israel, like the Canaanite tribes, is subjected to the same judgment: scattering.
From the moment Jeroboam, son of Netbat, made two golden calves at Bethel and Dan, the Holy God passed judgment on Israel. But the Compassionate God kept on playing delaying tactics. Prophets and seers are sent in to help bring about restoration. They ultimately fail. And so we come to chapter 17 and Israel is scattered.
It has been a rough ride to this point. A nation that was meant to be the head has lived like a tail. The nation that was meant to receive gifts from foreign kings has constantly been kneeling before the same foreign kings for favors. You want to read Deuteronomy chapter 28 again for context. The chapter that was written with an ‘if’ statement looks like a solid revelation of the future. Indeed, it has been a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ for the scattering.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Genesis 17 verses 1 and 2.
The covenant was described at Mount Sinai and summarized in the famous Ten Commandments. It is this covenant that Israel has failed to honor.
The Book of Kings has been about the many kings of the two Israelite kingdoms. Has a king kept the covenant or not? This has been a simple question. This chapter is also talking about individuals within the community of God’s people who collectively breach the conditions of the contract. It has been about the Israelites – individuals. Not just kings alone.
Individuals must make decisions on this covenant. It remains the only standard of judgment.
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