Bible studies for writers

Bible studies for writers | 2 Kings 17

Whoa! Something huge just happened here, and my mind went super deep today. I hope I can explain it well enough so that you can wrap your mind around it, too. First, we have to remember that both Israel and Judah are under rulership of which neither are pleasing to the Lord. Judah’s current king, Ahaz, has destroyed much of the Temple and does not worship the Lord as he should. The people have poor leadership in worshiping the Lord and have few means to do it properly anymore. After years of living like this, a new generation will come along and lose even more connection with God. In the meantime, Israel is, ugh, in just a complete mess. Hoshea has taken the helm, and with his crowning, Israel becomes a nation which has now seen leadership move around to six different families, none of whom have earned too many brownie points with God. Hoshea is the end of the line, however. God has just had it with Israel. They continually let Him down. For decades upon decades, they have asked God for favors here and there, and He has been gracious enough to grant them and provide example after example as to why they should turn to Him completely, but Israel (its leaders anyway) just continues to flip-flop and be wishy-washy in their commitment to God.

So, we’ve got Judah in complete disarray and Israel’s capital of Samaria is no longer Israel’s capital. It is now a town where Assyrians live because the Israelites who used to occupy the city have been exiled to what is now modern-day Turkey and possibly parts of northern Syria.

So, here’s where I got a little deep. I had to dig back in my memory banks, and I’m not even sure if what I’m thinking makes sense. But my first thought when I realized that both Judah and Israel have kind of been “enveloped,” if you will, by the practice and presence of other religions, was “where did all these people come from?” Like, how did these other gods develop, and why do these people practice the religions that they do? And in my tiny little brain, I remembered way back when, when the Tower of Babel was built, that God banished people to other lands and scattered them by the seas. I reckoned that this is when the great division took place, and all these other people, who knew God but refused to believe Him completely, took the few things that they knew and developed other practices based on situations they most likely found themselves in back then. Gosh, I can’t even imagine. But think about it: maybe a few of them sailing finally found safety on an island, and upon landing on that island, they came upon a giant rock, under which they found safety and refuge. So, they named that rock {insert weird name}, and they worshiped it because they believed it protected them, … and a million other religions and sacred landmarks were born this way.

Now, circle back to Judah and Israel’s present situation. These two people groups, who actually are one people group, still are God’s chosen people. We could say, and I’m sure it’s argued, that Judah is God’s fave. Judah is the remnant that has stuck with God the longest. But God has invested a lot in both these kingdoms, and He shows mercy for them time and time and time again. But why? We’ve talked about God choosing Israel (I’m talking both Judah and Israel here) as His chosen people and why He did it many chapters ago. Of course, I don’t know the exact reasons, but I related it to “just picking one” a while back. Like, when you have to pick from a litter of puppies, you just pick the one that resonates with you most. I think that’s how we got here with God’s favor of Judah. But it’s getting out of control, isn’t it? God created a people group that created other people groups that created other people groups that created other people groups, and all those people groups have now taken over God’s one people group. They’ve just absolutely drown it out almost. Yet, God keeps telling all the people groups around it: if you just join My ONE tiny people group (which now looks about like two or three individuals gasping for air while treading water), everything will get better. But not too many people want in on that tragedy. But here’s the kicker: God still wants them to be. He still wants them to join Him. He still wants them to know Him. He still wants to rescue them, converse with them, live amongst them, be friends with them, love them. He still wants that, despite their rejection of Him. They are still His people, every last one of them, the good, bad and horribly ugly ones, and God never loses sight of this. Or at least, I think He starts seeing it very clearly as Judah and Israel begin to evaporate. Even at their most lost, God throws a Hail Mary and sends back one of the exiled priests to teach the new residents of Samaria how to worship the Lord (v. 28). And while some of them did learn, and some of them did accept that God was God, they continued to put their faith in other things, other objects, other people. And all this, folks, is what broke the camel’s back. All this – the bad kings, the stubborn people, the years and years of abandoning one principle after another – is one of the final straws for God. It’s one of His largest heartbreaks. It’s the moment He realizes that the people He created just don’t care. But nevertheless, He persisted. He’s like that husband that just will not give up on his wife even though she is completely rotten. He’s like that mom that just will not give up on her son even though he shows zero compassion for her own suffering through him. God is so desperate to regain the love and relationship with His people that He will go to great lengths to win their hearts. We know exactly what that is … and what it will be in chapters to come. Jesus. When I look at the state of Judah and Israel in this chapter, that’s all I can think, guys. Jesus.

Think about yourself and your relationship with God today in relation to the state that Judah and Israel were in back then. If you are someone who believes in God and knows Jesus today, you are a remnant of the very, very, very few people left on Earth at one point in time who even knew who God was. There were so few people in the region of Samaria who knew God, that a priest had to be sent to them to show them how to worship the Lord. They didn’t even know HOW to worship the Lord! If you know how to worship the Lord, you are a remnant of this priest and the few, few people who heeded his instructions. You are a product of the forthcoming, not even realized yet, Great Commission. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? I’m saying you are a rarity. You are a treasure. You are a person as dear to God as the few, few people left in Israel and Judah who still loved and knew and worshiped God a gazillion years ago during a time we can only imagine because of these words that have survived by God’s grace and protection. YOU are chosen. YOU are one of the few who accepted God’s invitation. YOU are a treasure to the One True God, The Almighty God, the God who not only creates but relates. YOU are the reason for Jesus.

And with that comes a great responsibility. I bet the priest who was sent to Samaria never dreamt his teachings would make so much difference in the world, but it’s a perfect example of why Jesus tells us that He would leave the 99 to rescue the one.

Writing prompt: Jesus

Where do you see Jesus in this chapter or the chapters leading up to this point? Write about Jesus today. Just Jesus.

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