Sunday, January 29, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “The Last King of Israel”

“The Last King of Israel”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
January 29, 2017 :: 2 Kings 17:1-41

When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute, I was taught that 2 Kings 17 was one of the top 13 key chapters of the Old Testament.

My Old Testament professor gave us a list of 11 foundational books that told the Big Story of the Old Testament (hint: I’ve been preaching through them since 2003).

And we had to memorize one (and for some books 2) key chapters that captured the highpoints (or lowpoints) of the Old Testament storyline:

Genesis 12
Exodus 12 and 20
Numbers 14
Joshua 6
Judges 2
1 Samuel 8
2 Samuel 7
1 Kings 12
and 2 Kings 17

(as well as 2 Kings 25, and Ezra 6 and Nehemiah 6).

So this chapter contains one of the turning points of the whole Old Testament.

It’s been coming for some time, and it’s finally here.

It’s the story of the “The Last King of Israel.”

And it’s the story of Israel’s exile to Assyria.

2 Kings 17 is where the broken record for the northern kingdom finally skips off the turntable.

And we come to the end of that sad, sad song.

Unfortunately, the ending of the song is just as sad as the middle was.

2 Kings 17, verse 1.

“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah [the last guy we read about last week], Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years.”

Here’s the guy. He starts out like every other one of them.

And we ask the big question.

Thumbs-up or thumbs-down?

Remember, he’s a king from the north, and they’ve all been?

Thumbs-down. V.2

“He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him. [Apparently, he wasn’t as bad though he had assassinated his predecessor.  But it was too little, too late. V.3] Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser's vassal and had paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison.”

Do you see how the author keeps repeating the phrase, “the king of Assyria?”

Assyria just dominates in these chapters. It looms over everything.

King Hoshea had tried to switch sides. First by playing it both ways and then by switching over allegiances from Assyria to Egypt.

But it didn’t work. The newest king of Assyria got wind of this, condemned Hoshea for treachery and threw him into prison.

But even worse, he came and laid seize to Samaria (the capital of Israel) and then took the bulk of the people into exile. V.5

“The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.”

The people of Israel had to go into exile.

Mass deportation. From their own homeland.

We saw last week in chapter 15 that some had already been taken away.

But this was the bulk of the nation. Imagine if another nation beat our country in war and then moved just about our whole population to their country and moved some of their people here into our homes.

That’s what happened.

They had to leave their homes and be moved somewhere else.

Now the big question that this raises, of course, is WHY.

Why did this exile happen?

Was it because King Hoshea wasn’t a very good politician?
Was it because King Hoshea wasn’t a very good diplomat or military strategist?

Or was the reason a defect in Israel’s god?

I’m sure that Assyria thought that that was what it was.

Assyria’s gods were obviously more powerful than Israel’s god. Right?

This is a very sad thing. Why did this very sad thing happen?

I think that, in some ways, the entire Books of Kings were written to explain why this sad thing happened. V.7

“All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

Why did the exile happened?

Because Israel had sinned against the LORD.

Because they had bad kings who led the nation to do bad things.

It’s not that they weren’t smart or savvy or clever.

It’s that they didn’t love the Lord their God and lead the people to love Him, too.

They had just one job, and they failed it.

Now, I have four points this morning. And I want them all to be God-focused.

Because we can get stuck on the bad kings and the bad things, but this book is here to reveal our God to us.

The same God of the last king of Israel is the same God that we are worshiping here today.

And He is revealed in these pages.

Here’s point number one.


The God of 2 Kings 17 is a holy God.

Israel was choosing to sin against a God who was utterly holy.

You can only really sin against holiness.

You can’t really sin against sinfulness.

V.7 again. “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God,” [That was their mistake! And it was a sin of ungratefulness. Ingratitude. Because this was the God Who v.7] who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

This is one long story. They forgot their own story.

They forgot the Exodus. They forgot their rescue.

The ignored it.

A holy God had revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush and He had said, “Go get my people and bring them out. I’m going to rescue them and give them the Land I promised their Father Abraham.”

And He did!

And this is how they repay Him?!

Verses 8 through 12 are a quick summary of what we’ve reading about in these books since June.

There are no surprises here. The author just reminds us of the case against Israel. V.8

“They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them [in the book of Joshua], as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced [like Jeroboam son of Nebat!].The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that were not right. [As if the Holy One of Israel couldn’t see?!] From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the LORD had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that provoked the LORD to anger. They worshiped idols, though the LORD had said, ‘You shall not do this.’”

In other words, they sinned against a holy God.

And made Him an angry God.

You see God is not naturally angry.

He is not by nature angry.

But He is by nature holy.

And that means that He must become angry when He encounters sin.

And that’s a good thing! You don’t want a god who feels ambivalent about bad things. You don’t.

When He see injustices: “Oh well. I hope that gets worked. Or not. Whatever.”

We all long for a God who is good. Perfectly good. Who loves what is right and hates what is evil. Who gets righteously angry about the right things.

Except when we’re the ones who are doing the sinning, of course.

Then we’re not so sure we’re happy that He’s holy.

But He is holy.

He is holy, holy, holy.

And that means this wickedness that the nation of Israel had perpetrated was going to provoke the LORD’s anger.

But not too quickly. Because:


He took His time. V.13.

“The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: ‘Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’”

He is patient. He’s longsuffering.

He warns them.

That’s why 1 Kings and 2 Kings feel so long. Like they just go on and on.

It’s because the LORD is being patient.

He’s sending prophets with warnings.

Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea.

“Turn!” “Shuv!” “Repent!”

“Come back to me!”

God does not have a hair trigger.

He is not just waiting for a chance to pounce on unbelievers.

“Ha! Caught you!”

No, “Turn! Don’t go there! Come back!”

See God is both holy and patient.

Most of us want God to be either one or the other.

Sometimes we want God to be patient with us and righteously angry with someone else.

But God is perfect holy and perfectly patient.

Same God in the New Testament.

2 Peter 3, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

He’s holy. You need repentance. He’s seeking repentance from sin. “Turn.”

But He’s allowing time. He’s longsuffering. He’s patient. V.14

“But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the LORD their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them [warning after warning after warning]. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.”

Think about that for a second.

There’s a biblical principle at work here that we become like what we worship.

Have you ever thought about that?

If you truly worship the Lord, you will become like Him.

But the opposite is true, too. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

You are what you eat.
You are what you dream.
You are what you think about.

You become what you worship.

So be careful what you worship.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. V.15

“They imitated the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, ‘Do not do as they do,’ and they did the things the LORD had forbidden them to do.”

They were supposed to be holy!

They were supposed to be different.

You and I are supposed to be holy and different, too.

Do we stand out from the world around us or do we do the exact same things they do?

Are we just as angry, just as scared, just as mean, just as impatient, just as unforgiving?

Or do we stand out as loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, faithful, self-controlled?

Do we chase after the same gods as the world does?

You become what you worship. V.16

“They forsook all the commands of the LORD their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts [astrology], and they worshiped Baal. They [even] sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.”

There was an end.

He was patient. But His patience is perfectly long and no longer.

Because He’s holy. V.18

“So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence [what a sentence]. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced.”

That’s a little foreshadowing of what’s to come in the rest of this book.

Judah is behind Israel in badness, but they’re following and catching up.

But Israel is basically no more. V.20

“Therefore the LORD rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.

[And just in case you’re still wondering why this happened, he goes over it again.]

When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the LORD and caused them to commit a great sin. The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them until the LORD removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there.”

We would say, “At the time of writing they are still there.”

Do you remember the prophet Ahijah?

I’ll bet you don’t.

Not Elijah, not Elisha, but Ahijah.

He is the one that Jeroboam’s wife went to see in disguise.

But he just greeted her at the door. He knew who she was.

He told her that this was going to happen. That Israel would go into exile.

1 Kings chapter 14.

But He waited about 200 years to do it.

The LORD is patient.

Take comfort in that. And use the time that God allows to reach people for Jesus’ sake.

Because He’s being patient right now with the world.

But don’t mistake it for slowness or weakness, especially moral weakness, in God.

God is holy and He will not be patient forever.

The very next verse in 2 Peter 3 after telling us that God is patient tells us that the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

He can move fast when He wants to. At the right time.

Don’t mistake His patience for complacency.

Israel refused to repent. They persisted in their sins. And they came back to land on them.

Israel went into exile.

Now this next part of the story is interesting history but it’s really sad, too.

Because the king of Assyria didn’t just take the Israeli people out of Israel, he resettled pagan people back in it. V.24

“The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. When they first lived there, they did not worship the LORD; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. [There He goes with the lions again. You never know when there might be a lion attack in the Books of Kings.]

It was reported to the king of Assyria: ‘The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.’ [Interesting that these pagans are more concerned with God’s requirements than God’s people had been with God’s requirements!]

Then the king of Assyria gave this order: ‘Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.’ So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the LORD.”

Now, how good a job do you think they did of that?

These northern priests weren’t worth very much before the exile.

And I doubt they were that great now. Look where they settled. Bethel. That’s one of the sites of the golden calves, right?

I don’t think they’ve learned their lesson.

Here’s the lesson they should have learned:


What is the first commandment?

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

How’re they doing at that one? Not so good.

And these people now in the land don’t do very well either. V.29

“Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. The men from Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men from Cuthah made Nergal, and the men from Hamath made Ashima; the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

[Notice it says that they made these gods. Let me tell you: any god that you can make is worthless. V.32]

They worshiped the LORD, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither [truly] worship the LORD nor adhere to the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands that the LORD gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. [They had just one job and they failed it. V.35]

When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: ‘Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. [Do you sense a theme here?] Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the LORD your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.’

They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.”

And that, my friends, is why they are in exile. Why they are in trouble.

Because the LORD is jealous. He will not give His glory to another.

You know what the application is of that?

“Do not worship other gods.”

We still need to be told that today.

Nobody worships Succoth Benoth or Nergal or Ashima or Nibhaz or Tartak today.

But they do worship Money, Pleasure, Power, Popularity, Security, Pride, Possession.

The apostle John said to New Testament Christians, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

“Do not worship other gods.”

One of the biggest reasons why we have the Old Testament is to show us how zealous God is for His own glory and to warn us to put Him absolutely first in our affections and worship.

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

Jesus replied: ‘'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

This is the first and greatest commandment’” (Matthew 22:36-38).

In other words, “Do not worship other gods.”

What are the other gods that you are tempted to worship today?

What are idols of the heart that threaten to capture your attention and capsize your walk with the Lord?

Don’t wait. Topple them. Fight them. Kill them. Destroy them.

Take a chain saw to that Asherah pole. Don’t give it a foothold.

Don’t “persist” in your sins like these folks did. It only led to grief.

I’ve got one more point for you.

I know we’re out of text in chapter 17.

But I haven’t told you yet about the last king of Israel.

Because it wasn’t Hoshea even though he was the last Hebrew king there for a very long time.

The next human person in the Bible to be called the King of Israel doesn’t come until the New Testament.

Can you guess who it is?

It’s Jesus, right?

John chapter 1, Nathanael coming to realize it and declare it, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Or on Palm Sunday, as the crowds swelled around him, they shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!"

Here’s point number four. It needs to stay in the mix. Because it’s the rest of the story.


He’s on the hunt for people to show His love to.

You know what they came to call these people that lived up north in the former Israel. The few that were left behind after the exile who married into the people that got moved in?

Do you know what they called those people that lived around Samaria?

They are the Samaritans, right?

And remember when the Lord Jesus came through Samaria. He had to come through Samaria?

And He met a woman by a well in Sychar?

And He showed Her the love of God.

And He told her that the Father was seeking worshipers.

God was on the hunt for people to show His love to.

And she got it. She realized this was the Messiah they had been waiting for.

And like her whole town came to believe in Him.

And they said, “we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Jesus is the last king of Israel. And He’s all the king that Israel will ever need.

2 Kings 17, while important, is not the end of the story.

It’s not the end of the story for the Books of Kings.

And it’s certainly not the end of the Bigger Story that it’s a part of.

2 Kings 17 ends badly and sadly.

But the Bigger Story does not.

In the Bigger Story, the King of Kings comes and makes everything all right.

The King of Kings comes and gets recognized by some as the true King of Israel.

But others reject Him as the King of Israel and send Him to be Cross.

On the Cross, they make fun of Him for claiming to be the King of Israel.

But three days later He proves that He is.

He comes back from the dead.

And one day, He will come back again from heaven as the rightful heir of all of the promises, including the promises to David and be the King that Israel always needed.

Because the LORD is loving.

He’s not just holy, He’s not just patient. He’s not jealous.

He is all of those things. Perfectly.

That’s why we need the Cross.

Why we need Evangelism.

Why we need repentance and faith.

But He is also loving. Perfectly so.

And He’s on the hunt for people to enjoy His love forever.

Jesus is the King of Kings.


Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”
14. "Thus Saith the LORD!"
15. What the LORD Says
16. Is There No God in Israel?
17. Where Is the God of Elijah?
18. How NOT To Relate to God
19. God of Wonders
20. No God in the All the World Except in Israel
21. LORD, Open Our Eyes!
22. "If the LORD Should Open the Floodgates of Heaven"
23. "I Will Avenge the Blood of My Servants"
24. "Long Live the King!"
25. God Is Good Even When the King Is Bad
26. “Good Kings, Bad Kings, Good Things, Bad Things”