DISCLAIMER: Do not believe anything that I say! Test everything that you read below against all verses in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Brit Chadashah (NT). Pray for the truth and to be led by the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaChodesh)! I am not your pastor, preacher, teacher, rabbi, or anything else. I am just a guy who has an opinion.
A Divided Kingdom
Things do not look good for the people of Israel. Their ruler has effectively forced the hand of the majority of the people to rebel against him. The once mighty nation is split and are at each other’s throats, so to speak. There are now two rulers, one in the North and one in the South. Both Houses will have their share of disobedience to YHVH. Let’s see what happens to both of these Houses.
While both kingdoms do not stay true to YHVH and HIS instructions (ketuba), we see the Northern kingdom fall further and further away from HIM by setting up other gods and worshiping idols. They start to offer sacrifices to golden calves and set up evergreen trees for worship. Judah in the South is no better. As a matter of fact, YHVH says that Judah was even worse than Israel (the Northern kingdom). They were both seeking other gods to worship. When we look at the kings of the Northern kingdom, we see a continual drifting away from YHVH. When look at the kings of the South, we see some kings take the people further away from YHVH, but then a new king comes along and destroys all of the high places and brings the people back to worshiping YHVH.
The Northern Kingdom (House of Israel)
It does get a little confusing when we talk about the Nation of Israel and the House of Israel. The Northern kingdom is referred to under two different names: The House of Israel and Ephraim. These names are synonymous. When you see one, it means the other. It is easy to confuse the Nation of Israel with the House of Israel. Today, the modern Nation of Israel is essentially the House of Judah. I know it can be confusing. Just remember that back in the time of King David and King Solomon, there was a unified nation of all twelve tribes called the Nation of Israel. After Rehoboam, there were two nations: the House of Israel and the House of Judah.
YHVH is a patient GOD. If you have any doubt, just look at how HE handles Ephraim (House of Israel) during their spiritual idolatry.
2 Kings 17:1 – 2
1 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned nine years.
2 He did evil in the sight of the LORD, only not as the kings of Israel who were before him.
We know that Hoshea, King of Israel, ruled nearly two hundred years after the kingdom split. King Hoshea is estimated to have ruled around 733-724 BC. Remember, the kingdom had split around 925 BC. This is two hundred years of evil and idolatry, following other gods from other nations; the very thing YHVH told them not to do. This permeated their culture and society and worship of the One True God disappeared. If this doesn’t demonstrate the patience of YHVH, not much of anything else will.
As we read on from the verse above, we can see what happened to Israel and why it happened. This should serve as a warning to all people. If YHVH tells you to only worship HIM, HE will have patience with you. But remember, HE does not have unlimited patience.
We see this account in 2 Kings Chapter 17
6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
7 Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods
8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced.
9 The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city.
10 They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree,
11 and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD.
12 They served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”
13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.”
14 However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God.
15 They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.
16 They forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.
17 Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him.
18 So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.
We also see references to this event in the Prophets. In speaking about Judah, YHVH references Israel.
Jeremiah 3:6 – 7
6 Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there.
7 “I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jeremiah 11:10 “They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.”
What covenant is YHVH talking about? Obviously, the covenant that was made on Mount Sinai. If we refer back to the earlier articles, we can see that the covenant was actually a ketuba, or marriage contract, and Israel has broken the marriage terms.
Not convinced? Let’s take a look at what YHVH thinks about this.
Jeremiah 3:8 – 9
8 “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.
9 “Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.
The House of Israel was now divorced, due to her idolatrous and adulterous behavior; going after other gods and serving them. YHVH had tremendous patience with HIS people. HE loves them and pleaded with them to not stray from HIM. They ignored HIM and served other gods. After two hundred years, it was time for them to pay the price. YHVH divorced them (spiritually). They were no longer HIS people (the Northern kingdom). They were dispersed into foreign lands and could not come back into covenant with YHVH again, outside of the framework of HIS word. Judah should have been divorced, but YHVH spared them, because of the promise HE made to Judah. Judah would never be cut off because of her adulterous behavior, even though it was worse than Israel.
Jeremiah 3:11 – 14
11 And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
12 “Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not be angry forever.
13 ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the LORD.
14 ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD; ‘For I am married to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.’
There is Hope!
How can these people be reconciled back to YHVH if HE has divorced them? That is the question we will answer in the next few articles. This is probably the most important concept to understand in the bible. How does YHVH reconcile HIS lost sheep, HIS wayward son?