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They Reap the Whirlwind - Lesson 1

Lesson 1: Background and History

 

I.        INTRODUCTION

A.      Some of the very best lessons for us today are found in the history of yesterday.

                                                             1.      The experiences, emotions, and thoughts of men are common from age to age.  Therefore, we do well to learn from those who have preceded us regarding both good and evil.

                                                             2.      The God of the Bible is the same God that we serve today.  James wrote, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (Jas. 1:17).  He does not change, and therefore His disposition toward mankind today is the same as in the past.

B.      Regarding the nation of Israel, Paul wrote, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1Cor. 10:11).

                                                             1.      “These things” in this verse specifically refer to the history of Israel during the exodus and the wilderness wanderings, but the principle applies to all of Israel’s history.

                                                             2.      It is wise to consider the examples of Israel as instruction for us as individuals, as a nation, and as the Lord’s church.  Then, we must adjust ourselves according to the wisdom of those examples.

C.      The history of Israel is filled with valuable lessons throughout, but this study will focus upon the end of the history of the ten northern tribes as revealed by the prophet Hosea.

                                                             1.      The prophecy of Hosea spanned this period of time as the Northern Kingdom of Israel sank into oblivion.

                                                             2.      Hosea’s ministry was a declaration of love, disappointment, and wrath on the part of God, and idolatry, ignorance, and treachery on the part of Israel.

                                                             3.      This series is not intended to be an exhaustive verse-by-verse study, but rather its purpose is to glean lessons from Hosea that we can apply today.

 

II.      THE TIME OF HOSEA’S PROPHECY

A.      When Israel first received the Promised Land, Joshua had given them a sound warning in Joshua 23:14-16:

“Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.  It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.  When you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.”

B.      In his time, Hosea lived to see the fulfillment of Joshua’s terrifying and prophetic words.

                                                             1.      Just as Joshua had said, every threat of God against the nation of Israel was carried out when Israel forsook their covenant with God.

                                                             2.      Much like Jeremiah would be later in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Hosea represented a final effort by God to reason with His people and turn them back from their wickedness.

C.      Hosea’s prophecy began sometime during the latter days of the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 B.C.) and continued throughout the remaining days of the Northern Kingdom.

                                                             1.      Most estimates have Hosea’s prophecy beginning around 755 B.C.

                                                             2.      Most indications are that Hosea’s ministry ended shortly before the exile of Israel (722 B.C.).

                                                             3.      During Hosea’s ministry, seven different kings sat on the throne in the Northern Kingdom, and every one of them did evil in the sight of God.

a.       Jeroboam II (795-753 B.C.)

b.       Zechariah (753-752 B.C.)

c.        Shallum (752 B.C.)

d.       Menahem (752-742 B.C.)

e.        Pekahiah (742-740 B.C.)

f.        Pekah (752-732 B.C.)

g.        Hoshea (732-722 B.C.)

D.      When Hosea’s work began, Israel was experiencing a time of prosperity both politically and economically (2Ki. 14:23-29).

                                                             1.      Jeroboam II had “restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah” (2Ki. 14:25), and “he fought and recovered for Israel, Damascus and Hamath, which had belonged to Judah” (2Ki. 14:28).

                                                             2.      This was accomplished by God through Jeroboam II as God “saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash” (2Ki. 14:27).

E.       As was often the case, God’s people did not deal well with prosperity.

                                                             1.      Despite their many blessings, Israel forgot God, which they tended to do throughout their history.

                                                             2.      Moses warned them of this tendency during times of prosperity and the consequences in Deuteronomy 8:10-20.

                                                             3.      As if following the words of God through Moses like a script, Israel had become satisfied with their wealth and proud of their accomplishments.  They had forgotten God by not keeping His commandments, and they had gone after other gods.

                                                             4.      God likewise followed the script, fulfilling the words of Moses by causing Israel to perish like the nations that had perished before them when they came into the land.

F.       The sad ending of the Northern Kingdom is recorded in 2Kings 17:5-23.

                                                             1.      The nation of Israel was conquered by Assyria when Samaria fell in 722 B.C.

a.       The kingdom of Assyria was an exceedingly cruel and powerful nation.  Much of their success in conquering nations was due to intimidation.  Their tactics were so inhumane that fear alone would force kingdoms into submission.  (Consider the intimidation attempted against Judah in Isaiah 36:13-20.)

b.       The custom of the Assyrians was to exile a captured people out of their native land and into the land of foreigners.  In this way, they could divide a nation and make it impossible for them to reunite and rebel against their captors.  Thus, the ten northern tribes were deported and assimilated into other peoples.

                                                             2.      While it was Assyria that conquered Israel, it was God who caused it to happen.  Israel had sinned “until the LORD removed Israel from His sight, as He spoke through all His servants the prophets” (2Ki. 17:23).  In Isaiah, God referred to Assyria as “the rod of My anger” (Isa. 10:5).

                                                             3.      Unlike the Southern Kingdom of Judah later on, which returned from its captivity in Babylon after seventy years, the ten northern tribes never returned, and no semblance of the Northern Kingdom of Israel ever existed again.

 

III.   A WARNING FOR US

A.      It is imperative for us to heed the lessons of history and the warnings of Hosea.

                                                             1.      The parallel situations between the United States today and the Northern Kingdom of Israel during Hosea’s ministry demand that we take notice of the final results suffered by Israel.

                                                             2.      Not only did Israel suffer destruction as a result of their sin, but other great nations have followed the same course and repeated the same pattern with the same final consequences (consider Rome).

                                                             3.      If the United States continues with this same pattern, then shouldn’t we expect the same results?

B.      This is not a time for panic, but rather it is a call for resolve among God’s people.

                                                             1.      This is not a cry of “the sky is falling!”  The issues we will consider are real and practical, and they have a solution that must be implemented if this nation is to continue for the long term.

                                                             2.      All Christians must realize that our first priority is the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).

a.       Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and the church is the nation of Christ (1Pet. 2:9-10).  The kingdom of God existed before the United States, and it will continue afterward if necessary (see Dan. 2:44).

b.       We must resolve not to allow the decline of morality and increase of ungodliness in the nation around us to seep into the Lord’s church and ourselves individually.

                                                             3.      God’s people in this nation can affect a change.

a.       We have the attention of God in prayer, which we should use to bless our nation and its leaders (1Tim. 2:1-4).

b.       Christians are the salt of the earth, which may be the preserving agent in this nation (Matt. 5:13).  We also can walk as lights in the world, bringing glory to our Father in heaven and helping others to do the same (Matt. 5:14-16; Eph. 4:7-12).

C.      “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them.  For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them.  But transgressors will stumble in them.” (Hos. 14:9)




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