Has God gone soft?

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Has God become mellow under the New Covenant?

Introduction

Since the death of the Apostles and completion of New Testament documents Church history until this present day clearly shows a departure by the Church from the teachings left by the Apostles.  This departure is typical of the way in which the Israelites departed from the Old Covenant with God time and time again.  The most important issue is why and how did they depart.  This information will provide us the basis for understanding why and how The Church has done what Israel did and more importantly what God's response is predicted to be based on what happened to Israel in the Old Testament together with what has already been prophesied in the New Testament. 

The most disturbing situation is the state and mindset of The Church for the last 2000 years that is reflected in her conduct apparently based on the presumption that God's dealings with her cannot be the same as His dealings with Israel in the Old Testament.  This presumption will be seen to be false and is based on an interpretation of the relationship with God consistent with those that Israelite leaders falsely presumed.  This led to painful consequences for the leaders, their families and the nation as a whole.

Tragically over the last 2000 years, The Church leadership, their families and congregations have suffered without even understanding that the events that befell them were, in fact, God's curses and/or judgments. Today there are many church leaders and congregations that have Divine judgments hanging over their heads. Some have already experienced the judgments others are experiencing the judgments. Some are filling up the cup of God's wrath before judgments while others have escaped judgments through recognition of God's displeasure and have therefore genuinely repented.


God's relationship with Israel in the Old Testament

Selection of Abraham and his descendants as a unique sign and example for the whole world

When God first spoke to Abraham and made a Covenant with him, He made it clear through the Covenant what the terms of the relationship would be. In Gen. 17:1-8  it reads,

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord aappeared to Abram and said to him, b“I am 1Almighty God; cwalk before Me and be dblameless. 2 And I will make My ecovenant between Me and you, and fwill multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: 4 “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be ga father of 2many nations. 5 No longer shall hyour name be called 3Abram, but your name shall be 4Abraham; ifor I have made you a father of 5many nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make jnations of you, and kkings shall come from you. 7 And I will lestablish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, mto be God to you and nyour descendants after you. 8 Also oI give to you and your descendants after you the land pin 6which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and qI will be their God.”

a Gen. 12:7; 18:1
b Gen. 28:3; 35:11; Ex. 6:3; Job 42:2
1 Heb. El Shaddai
c 2 Kin. 20:3
d Gen. 6:9; Deut. 18:13
e Gen. 15:18; Ex. 6:4; [Gal. 3:19]
f Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 18:18
g [Rom. 4:11, 12, 16]
2 Lit. multitude of nations
h Neh. 9:7
3 Lit. Exalted Father
4 Lit. Father of a Multitude
i Rom. 4:17
5 a multitude of
j Gen. 17:16; 35:11
k Matt. 1:6
l [Gal. 3:17]
m Gen. 26:24; 28:13; Lev. 11:45; 26:12, 45; Heb. 11:16
n Rom. 9:8; Gal. 3:16
o Gen. 12:7; 13:15, 17; Acts 7:5
p Gen. 23:4; 28:4
6 Lit. of your sojournings
q Ex. 6:7; 29:45; Lev. 26:12; Deut. 29:13; Rev. 21:7
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

The terms of the Covenant explicitly told Abraham to walk blamelessly in order to receive the full blessing to him and his descendants. Abraham therefore had the responsibility to keep the terms of the Covenant that would ensure he and his family and descendants were blessed.  Abraham proved throughout his life that he was a faithful Covenant keeper and God fulfilled His promises with blessings throughout his lifetime. Moreover, God's blessings extended to Abraham's descendants because of his faithfulness.

One of the most significant outcomes of this Covenant with Abraham was to demonstrate to the rest of the world how God would relate to humanity for eternity. Through a Covenant all peoples would be given the freedom to keep this Covenant with God and be blessed or reject the Covenant and be cursed and/or judged.


The 10 Commandments was the basis for Covenant relationship with Israel

After 430 years in Egypt (Exodus 12:41) subject to the laws and religious customs that were directly opposed to the True Living God the Israelites had very little idea of the Covenant that God had made to their ancestor, Abraham. This Covenant had not been written down in any form and there was no designated person or organisation that was dedicated to teaching and reminding the ever growing population of Israelites what the Covenant was all about.  In giving the 10 commandments God was re-establishing His original commitments to Abraham with his descendants as well as making them a sign and symbol of how the rest of humanity should relate to The Lord God Almighty. In Deuteronomy 6:1-24 it reads,

 1 “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
 
10 “So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13 You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you 15 (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth.
16 “You shall not tempt the LORD your God as you tempted Him in Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, His testimonies, and His statutes which He has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the LORD swore to your fathers, 19 to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has spoken.
20 “When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. 23 Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.’

While the Covenant with Abraham was between God and a man, the Covenant with Israel was now with a nation consisting of a complex variation of social structures.  These structures were acquired and became entrenched in Egypt over four Centuries of cultural and religious indoctrination.  God, therefore, made a clear cut distinction in the 10 Commandments and Levitical laws between His people and the practices of all other nations.  In the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Numbers God continually warns the Israelites against the detestable kinds of religious and social practices that they had seen and learned from their 400 years under Egyptian rule. Many of these entrenched practices formed the bases of the social fabric of their society.  In particular, the offering of sacrifices to different deities to ensure their success in all aspects of the societies endeavors.  God, in effect, was instituting a major social re-engineering on a national scale.  God used what He knew about the heart of mankind to provide a lasting proof that it is impossible for any person or organisation to change the hearts and minds of people by imposing laws even with the severest of punishments.

Just as with Abraham, the Covenant with Israel was based on choices that included obedience leading to blessings or disobedience that led to curses and/or judgments.


Reasons for the failure of the relationship between Israel and God

At the very start of the relationship with God as a nation at Mount Sinai the Israelites, who had grown up in idolatry and abominable practices in Egypt for several generations over 400 years, found the radical change in God's terms and conditions extremely difficult to follow.  Some of the main reasons include:

1) The existence of powerful and influential people who had vested interests in maintaining their status in the new Divine order. 

There were social elites who were determined not to lose their material and social status even if it meant defying and/or disobeying God's commands to His Face.  To them Moses, was like the priests of the gods they had served in Egypt.  Those priests would easily be challenged by the Pharaoh or leaders of Egypt.  They failed to grasp, the vast difference between the gods of Egypt and The True and Living God Who was displaying His power everyday visibility at Mount Sinai and while they traveled for 40 years in the desert.  The people were easily stirred up by these daringly defiant leaders who would rather suffer death or plague than give up their privileges and material benefits. Example in Numbers 16:1-35,

1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”
4 So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; 5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. 6 Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; 7 put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the LORD chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”
8 Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? 14 Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
15 Then Moses was very angry, and said to the LORD, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.”
16 And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the LORD—you and they, as well as Aaron. 17 Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.” 18 So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.
20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
22 Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”
23 So the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’”
25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” 27 So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children.
28 And Moses said: “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 29 If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD.”
31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also!
35 And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.


2) The entrenched beliefs that there were many gods who also needed to be obeyed.

In spite of God Almighty being physically visible among them their beliefs were so ingrained that they were willing to listen to those who were still peddling the idea that the gods of Egypt were also still very relevant.  An example of this was some of the leaders at Mt Sinai who rebelled against Moses when he delayed 40 days and nights in the mountain. Exodus 32:1-35 reads,

 1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! 10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”
11 Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”[a] 14 So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. 16 Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets.
17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.”
18 But he said:

      “It is not the noise of the shout of victory,
      Nor the noise of the cry of defeat,
      But the sound of singing I hear.”
19 So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it. 21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?”
22 So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.”
30 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
33 And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.”
35 So the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.
 

This seemly incredible stubbornness and defiance in the very visible Presence of God Almighty should make Christians shudder at the power of man's sinful nature.  How much more should Christians of today personally reflect on their attitudes when they are faced with a choice or a temptation to sin against The Living God especially when their sinful actions are in support of what they consider their privilege or material benefit.

Also in the book of Jeremiah we read the account of this stubborn rationalising of sinful behaviour as producing good. In Jeremiah 44:1-30 it reads,

 1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who dwell in the land of Egypt, who dwell at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘You have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and on all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, 3 because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke Me to anger, in that they went to burn incense and to serve other gods whom they did not know, they nor you nor your fathers. 4 However I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, “Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!” 5 But they did not listen or incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods. 6 So My fury and My anger were poured out and kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as it is this day.’
7 “Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, out of Judah, leaving none to remain, 8 in that you provoke Me to wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have gone to dwell, that you may cut yourselves off and be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? 9 Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, the wickedness of the kings of Judah, the wickedness of their wives, your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10 They have not been humbled, to this day, nor have they feared; they have not walked in My law or in My statutes that I set before you and your fathers.’
11 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will set My face against you for catastrophe and for cutting off all Judah. 12 And I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to dwell there, and they shall all be consumed and fall in the land of Egypt. They shall be consumed by the sword and by famine. They shall die, from the least to the greatest, by the sword and by famine; and they shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse and a reproach! 13 For I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, 14 so that none of the remnant of Judah who have gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there shall escape or survive, lest they return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return and dwell. For none shall return except those who escape.’”
15 Then all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to other gods, with all the women who stood by, a great multitude, and all the people who dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying: 16As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you! 17 But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble. 18 But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.”
19 The women also said,“And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did we make cakes for her, to worship her, and pour out drink offerings to her without our husbands’ permission?
20 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people—the men, the women, and all the people who had given him that answer—saying: 21 “The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and did it not come into His mind? 22 So the LORD could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you committed. Therefore your land is a desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant, as it is this day. 23 Because you have burned incense and because you have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His law, in His statutes or in His testimonies, therefore this calamity has happened to you, as at this day.”
24 Moreover Jeremiah said to all the people and to all the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt! 25 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, “We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!’ 26 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the LORD, ‘that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “The Lord GOD lives.” 27 Behold, I will watch over them for adversity and not for good. And all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine, until there is an end to them. 28 Yet a small number who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah; and all the remnant of Judah, who have gone to the land of Egypt to dwell there, shall know whose words will stand, Mine or theirs. 29 And this shall be a sign to you,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will punish you in this place, that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for adversity.’
30 “Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, his enemy who sought his life.’”

 

3) The religious and political leaders learned and taught the people the worship of idols and other detestable practices of the Gentiles

The responsibility of educating the vast majority of illiterate people in the new nation of Israel the commandments of God was greatly undermined by the self interest of the religious and political leaders.  The rebellions of the leaders and people also reflected in large measure on the failure of the Priesthood to teach the people effectively all the Commandments as God had instructed them.  With the exception of the Priesthood and a very small number of the administrative elite the vast majority of Israelites were largely illiterate and there were no copies of the sacred law for them to read in their homes.  The onus on the Priesthood to regularly teach the people orally was therefore considerable.  Any neglect of their tasks or the redirection of the people  to idolatry, therefore, had very significant impacts on the spiritual wellbeing of the nation.

God specifically instructed the leaders to teach the people in Deuteronomy 6:1-6,

 1 “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
 

 With the exception of a few kings like David, Josiah, Jehoshaphat and the prophetic judges such as Samuel the vast majority of Israelite leaders were judged by God as pursuing idolatry and witchcraft. Examples are found in
 

1 Kings 12:25-33

25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the mountains of Ephraim, and dwelt there. Also he went out from there and built Penuel. 26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah.”
28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” 29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. 31 He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi.
32 Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made. And at Bethel he installed the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense.

 

1 King 14:1-18

 1 At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick. 2 And Jeroboam said to his wife, “Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people. 3 Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child.” 4 And Jeroboam’s wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age.
5 Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, “Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman.
6 And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel, 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes; 9 but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back— 10 therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone. 11 The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!”’ 12 Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. 13 And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam.
14 “Moreover the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who shall cut off the house of Jeroboam; this is the day. What? Even now! 15 For the LORD will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the River, because they have made their wooden images, provoking the LORD to anger. 16 And He will give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who sinned and who made Israel sin.”
17 Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed, and came to Tirzah. When she came to the threshold of the house, the child died. 18 And they buried him; and all Israel mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.

 

1 King 16:29-34

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32 Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.

 

4) When Israel became a nation and had kings they presumed that God's standards and dealings with them had changed

The power of the sinful nature of humanity, in particular, the seeming indomitable desire for idolatry is a constant theme of the troubles of Israel throughout her history.  It may seem ridiculously inconceivable, to the 21st Century person, that a nation with the very visible Presence of The Almighty God would blatantly make a national decision to build alters to worship gods made of wood and stone and to offer their children as part of child sacrifices!  Furthermore, their Kings would dare to make decisions directly breaking many of the commands that God gave them while He was visibly there looking at them.  This daring defiance should be a serious warning to the 21st Century Christian that human nature once given unlimited power has a dangerous tendency to idolatry, Christian leaders, in particular, should beware!.

In rejecting the direct leadership of God and wanting to be like the other nations having Kings, Israel was ignorantly and foolishly moving towards the false belief that man on his own is able to achieve unlimited success. God, through Samuel, forewarned the nation of their impending perils as a result of rejecting His direct leadership. In 1 Samuel 8 it reads,

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."

 6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do."

 10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."

 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."

 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. 22 The LORD answered, "Listen to them and give them a king."
      Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Everyone go back to his town."

 The rebellion of the leaders of Israel often including the Priesthood because of self interest strongly suggests that they had the perception that they were God's favourites so they could do whatever they wanted because they had the most powerful God on their side.


Consequences for the failure of the relationship between Israel and God

  1. Prophecies warning of impending judgment if the leaders and people did not repent and return in obedience to God's Commandments

From the time of Moses to the last prophet John the Baptist, God prophesied dire consequences, without exception, for those who rejected His Commandments and Laws.

Examples in Deuteronomy 29:10-29 Moses gives them a solemn warning,

10 “All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— 12 that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today, 13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 “I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15 but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today 16 (for you know that we dwelt in the land of Egypt and that we came through the nations which you passed by, 17 and you saw their abominations and their idols which were among them—wood and stone and silver and gold); 18 so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; 19 and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse, that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall have peace, even though I follow the dictates[a] of my heart’—as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.
20 “The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the LORD would separate him from all the tribes of Israel for adversity, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law, 22 so that the coming generation of your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the LORD has laid on it:
23 ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’ 24 All nations would say, ‘Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?’ 25 Then people would say: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt; 26 for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. 27 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. 28 And the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.’
29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Ezekiel 6:1-14 warns Israel of God's coming judgment:

 1 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, 3 and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains, to the hills, to the ravines, and to the valleys: “Indeed I, even I, will bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. 4 Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. 5 And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. 6 In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. 7 The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
8 “Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries. 9 Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations. 10 And they shall know that I am the LORD; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.”
11 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Pound your fists and stamp your feet, and say, ‘Alas, for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. 12 He who is far off shall die by the pestilence, he who is near shall fall by the sword, and he who remains and is besieged shall die by the famine. Thus will I spend My fury upon them. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain are among their idols all around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, under every green tree, and under every thick oak, wherever they offered sweet incense to all their idols. 14 So I will stretch out My hand against them and make the land desolate, yes, more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblah, in all their dwelling places. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.’”’”

 

  1. The departure of The Presence of God from the Temple

One of the most obvious signs that the relationship with Israel was broken was the departure of the Glory of God from the Tabernacle or the Temple. In 1 Samuel 4 it reads,

 1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.
   
Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek. 2 Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field. 3 And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. 6 Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp. 7 So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!”
10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

12 Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. 13 Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching,[ for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the sound of this tumult mean?” And the man came quickly and told Eli. 15 Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see.
16 Then the man said to Eli, “I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.”
And he said, “What happened, my son?”
17 So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.”
18 Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. 21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

 

  1. Israel attacked by her enemies who enslaved them and ransacked the country

The Israelites were not always knowledgeable or even willing to accept that the attack of their enemies was a result of God's judgment on them for their rebellion against Him.  The prophet Jeremiah suffered because the leadership and people refused to accept that God had forsaken them when they were attacked by Nebuchadnezzar.  In Jeremiah 38:1-6,

 1 Now Shephatiah the son of Mattan, Gedaliah the son of Pashhur, Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur the son of Malchiah heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken to all the people, saying, 2 “Thus says the LORD: ‘He who remains in this city shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; but he who goes over to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be as a prize to him, and he shall live.’ 3 Thus says the LORD: ‘This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which shall take it.’”
4 Therefore the princes said to the king, “Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.”
5 Then Zedekiah the king said, “Look, he is in your hand. For the king can do nothing against you.” 6 So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, which was in the court of the prison, and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire. So Jeremiah sank in the mire.

 

 Instead, they blamed their suffering on not being allowed to offer sacrifices to the idol, the queen of heaven. Jeremiah 44:15-18 reads,

15 Then all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to other gods, with all the women who stood by, a great multitude, and all the people who dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying: 16As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you! 17 But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble. 18 But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.”
 

Other examples - Judges 2:7-23 reads,

7 So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel. 8 Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. 10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

11 Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; 12 and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. 13 They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. 15 Wherever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for calamity, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed.
16 Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the LORD; they did not do so. 18 And when the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.
20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, 21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, 22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.” 23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out immediately; nor did He deliver them into the hand of Joshua.


How could the failed relationship be restored?

  1. The leaders and people recognised that they had sinned against God in rejecting to live according to His commandments

Example in 2 Kings 23 it reads,

 1 Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. 2 The king went up to the house of the LORD with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD.
3 Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant. 4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven. 6 And he brought out the wooden image from the house of the LORD, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people. 7 Then he tore down the ritual booths of the perverted persons that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the wooden image. 8 And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate. 9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. 11 Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 The altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron. 13 Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon. 14 And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with the bones of men.
15 Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. 16 As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. 17 Then he said, “What gravestone is this that I see?”
So the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.”
18 And he said, “Let him alone; let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.
19 Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel. 20 He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men’s bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.
21 Then the king commanded all the people, saying, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Such a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the LORD in Jerusalem. 24 Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. 25 Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

 

  1. The political leaders asked the Priesthood and Prophets to intercede for the nation

The leaders, like King Josiah,  who had resolved in their hearts to serve The Lord God were quick to ask the help of the Priesthood and Prophets to intercede for the nation on being made aware of their disobedience. In 2 Kings 22 it reads,

Josiah awas eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of bBozkath. 2 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he cdid not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

3 dNow it came to pass, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, that the king sent Shaphan the scribe, the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the house of the Lord, saying: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money which has been ebrought into the house of the Lord, which fthe doorkeepers have gathered from the people. 5 And let them gdeliver it into the hand of those doing the work, who are the overseers in the house of the Lord; let them give it to those who are in the house of the Lord doing the work, to repair the damages of the house— 6 to carpenters and builders and masons—and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. 7 However hthere need be no accounting made with them of the money delivered into their hand, because they deal faithfully.”

8 Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, i“I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “Your servants have 1gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

11 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, jAhikam the son of Shaphan, 2Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is kthe wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of lTikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke with her. 15 Then she said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, 16 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, mI will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read— 17 nbecause they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’ ” ’ 18 But as for othe king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— 19 because your pheart was tender, and you qhumbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become ra desolation and sa curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. 20 Surely, therefore, I will 3gather you to your fathers, and you tshall 4be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” ’ ” So they brought back word to the king.

a 1 Kin. 13:2; 2 Chr. 34:1
b Josh. 15:39
c Deut. 5:32; Josh. 1:7
d 2 Chr. 34:8
e 2 Kin. 12:4
f 2 Kin. 12:9, 10
g 2 Kin. 12:11–14
h 2 Kin. 12:15; [1 Cor. 4:2]
i Deut. 31:24–26; 2 Chr. 34:14
1 Lit. poured out
j 2 Kin. 25:22; Jer. 26:24
2 Abdon the son of Micah, 2 Chr. 34:20
k [Deut. 29:23–28; 31:17, 18]
l 2 Chr. 34:22
m Deut. 29:27; [Dan. 9:11–14]
n Deut. 29:25–27; 2 Kin. 21:22
o 2 Chr. 34:26
p 1 Sam. 24:5; [Ps. 51:17; Is. 57:15]
q Ex. 10:3; 1 Kin. 21:29; [2 Chr. 7:14]
r Lev. 26:31, 32
s Jer. 26:6; 44:22
3 Cause you to join your ancestors in death
t 2 Kin. 23:30; [Ps. 37:37; Is. 57:1, 2]
4 Die a natural death
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

  1. The Priesthood began to read and teach the people the laws and commandments of God as well as offering sacrifices to and worship of God Almighty Alone

In 2 Kings 23:1-3 it reads,

Now athe king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. 2 The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he bread in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant cwhich had been found in the house of the Lord.

3 Then the king dstood by a pillar and made a ecovenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.

a 2 Sam. 19:11; 2 Chr. 34:29, 30
b Deut. 31:10–13
c 2 Kin. 22:8
d 2 Kin. 11:14
e 2 Kin. 11:17
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

  1. The political leaders directed that all idolatrous religious practices be destroyed

In 2 Kings 23:4 - 25 it reads,

4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the fpriests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring gout of the temple of the Lord all the articles that were made for Baal, for 1Asherah, and for all 2the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the 3constellations, and to hall the host of heaven. 6 And he brought out the iwooden 4image from the house of the Lord, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to jashes, and threw its ashes on kthe graves of the common people. 7 Then he tore down the ritual 5booths lof the 6perverted persons that were in the house of the Lord, mwhere the nwomen wove hangings for the wooden image. 8 And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from oGeba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate. 9 pNevertheless the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, qbut they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.

10 And he defiled rTopheth, which is in sthe Valley of the 7Son of Hinnom, tthat no man might make his son or his daughter upass through the fire to Molech. 11 Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had 8dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 The altars that were von the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which wManasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron. 13 Then the king defiled the 9high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the 1south of 2the Mount of Corruption, which xSolomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon. 14 And he ybroke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with the bones of men.

15 Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the 3high place zwhich Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. 16 As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the aword of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. 17 Then he said, “What gravestone is this that I see?”

So the men of the city told him, “It is bthe tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.”

18 And he said, “Let him alone; let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of cthe prophet who came from Samaria.

19 Now Josiah also took away all the 4shrines of the 5high places that were din the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke 6the Lord to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel. 20 eHe fexecuted all the priests of the 7high places who were there, on the altars, and gburned men’s bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.

21 Then the king commanded all the people, saying, h“Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, ias it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 jSuch a Passover surely had never been held since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was held before the Lord in Jerusalem. 24 Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of kthe law which were written in the book lthat Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 mNow before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

f 2 Kin. 25:18; Jer. 52:24
g 2 Kin. 21:3–7
1 A Canaanite goddess
2 The gods of the Assyrians
3 Of the Zodiac
h 2 Kin. 21:3
i 2 Kin. 21:7
4 Heb. Asherah, a Canaanite goddess
j Ex. 32:20
k 2 Chr. 34:4
5 Lit. houses
l 1 Kin. 14:24; 15:12
6 Heb. qedeshim, those practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals
m Ex. 35:25, 26; Ezek. 16:16
n Ex. 38:8
o Josh. 21:17; 1 Kin. 15:22
p [Ezek. 44:10–14]
q 1 Sam. 2:36
r Is. 30:33; Jer. 7:31, 32
s Josh. 15:8
7 Kt. Sons
t [Lev. 18:21; Deut. 18:10]; Ezek. 23:37–39
u 2 Kin. 21:6
8 given
v Jer. 19:13; Zeph. 1:5
w 2 Kin. 21:5; 2 Chr. 33:5
9 Places for pagan worship
1 Lit. right of
2 The Mount of Olives
x 1 Kin. 11:5–7
y [Ex. 23:24; Deut. 7:5–25]
3 A place for pagan worship
z 1 Kin. 12:28–33
a 1 Kin. 13:2
b 1 Kin. 13:1, 30, 31
c 1 Kin. 13:11, 31
4 Lit. houses
5 Places for pagan worship
d 2 Chr. 34:6, 7
6 So with LXX, Syr., Vg.; MT, Tg. omit the Lord
e 1 Kin. 13:2
f [Ex. 22:20]; 1 Kin. 18:40; 2 Kin. 10:25; 11:18
7 Places for pagan worship
g 2 Chr. 34:5
h Num. 9:5; Josh. 5:10; 2 Chr. 35:1
i Ex. 12:3; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:2; Deut. 16:2–8
j 2 Chr. 35:18, 19
k [Lev. 19:31; 20:27]; Deut. 18:11
l 2 Kin. 22:8
m 2 Kin. 18:5
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

  1. The leaders began to consult God for advice on how to deal with all matters of state affairs

In 2 Kings 18:17 - 19:37 it reads,

Sennacherib Boasts Against the Lord

17 Then the king of Assyria sent the 7Tartan, the 8Rabsaris, and the 9Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the uaqueduct from the upper pool, vwhich was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. 18 And when they had called to the king, wEliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the 1scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to them. 19 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: x“What confidence is this in which you trust? 20 You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are 2mere words. And in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? 21 yNow look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 22 But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He zwhose 3high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?” ’ 23 Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses—if you are able on your part to put riders on them! 24 How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 25 Have I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’ ”

26 aThen Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in bAramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in 4Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”

27 But the Rabshakeh said to them, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?”

28 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in 5Hebrew, and spoke, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 Thus says the king: c‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; 30 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” ’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me 6by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own dvine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, ea land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” 33 fHas any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of gHamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and hIvah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, ithat the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ ”

36 But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah jwith their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

Isaiah Assures Deliverance

19     And aso it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with bsackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. 2 Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. 3 And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to 1bring them forth. 4 cIt may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to dreproach the living God, and will erebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’ ”

5 So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 6 fAnd Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Do not be gafraid of the words which you have heard, with which the hservants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. 7 Surely I will send ia spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” ’ ”

Sennacherib’s Threat and Hezekiah’s Prayer

8 Then the Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed jfrom Lachish. 9 And kthe king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, “Look, he has come out to make war with you.” So he again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: ‘Do not let your God lin whom you trust deceive you, saying, “Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 11 Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? 12 mHave the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezeph, and the people of nEden who were in Telassar? 13 oWhere is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?’ ”

14 pAnd Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One qwho dwells between the cherubim, rYou are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 sIncline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; topen Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, uwhich he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were vnot gods, but wthe work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, xthat all the kingdoms of the earth may yknow that You are the Lord God, You alone.”

The Word of the Lord Concerning Sennacherib

20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: z‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, aI have heard.’ 21 This is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him:

     ‘The virgin, bthe daughter of Zion,

     Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;

     The daughter of Jerusalem

     cHas shaken her head behind your back!

22     ‘Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?

     Against whom have you raised your voice,

     And lifted up your eyes on high?

     Against dthe Holy One of Israel.

23     eBy your messengers you have reproached the Lord,

     And said: f“By the multitude of my chariots

     I have come up to the height of the mountains,

     To the limits of Lebanon;

     I will cut down its tall cedars

     And its choice cypress trees;

     I will enter the extremity of its borders,

     To its fruitful forest.

24     I have dug and drunk strange water,

     And with the soles of my feet I have gdried up

     All the brooks of defense.”

25     ‘Did you not hear long ago

     How hI made it,

     From ancient times that I formed it?

     Now I have brought it to pass,

     That iyou should be

     For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.

26     Therefore their inhabitants had little power;

     They were dismayed and confounded;

     They were as the grass of the field

     And the green herb,

     As jthe grass on the housetops

     And grain blighted before it is grown.

27     ‘But kI know your dwelling place,

     Your going out and your coming in,

     And your rage against Me.

28     Because your rage against Me and your tumult

     Have come up to My ears,

     Therefore lI will put My hook in your nose

     And My bridle in your lips,

     And I will turn you back

     mBy the way which you came.

29 ‘This shall be a nsign to you:

     You shall eat this year such as grows 2of itself,

     And in the second year what springs from the same;

     Also in the third year sow and reap,

     Plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.

30     oAnd the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah

     Shall again take root downward,

     And bear fruit upward.

31     For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant,

     And those who escape from Mount Zion.

     pThe zeal of the Lord 3of hosts will do this.’

32 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:

     ‘He shall qnot come into this city,

     Nor shoot an arrow there,

     Nor come before it with shield,

     Nor build a siege mound against it.

33     By the way that he came,

     By the same shall he return;

     And he shall not come into this city,’

     Says the Lord.

34     ‘For rI will sdefend this city, to save it

     For My own sake and tfor My servant David’s sake.’ ”

Sennacherib’s Defeat and Death

35 And uit came to pass on a certain night that the 4angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at vNineveh. 37 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons wAdrammelech and Sharezer xstruck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then yEsarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

7 A title, probably Commander in Chief
8 A title, probably Chief Officer
9 A title, probably Chief of Staff or Governor
u 2 Kin. 20:20
v Is. 7:3
w 2 Kin. 19:2; Is. 22:20
1 secretary
x 2 Chr. 32:10; [Ps. 118:8, 9]
2 Lit. a word of the lips
y Is. 30:2–7; Ezek. 29:6, 7
z 2 Kin. 18:4; 2 Chr. 31:1; 32:12
3 Places for pagan worship
a Is. 36:11–39:8
b Ezra 4:7; Dan. 2:4
4 Lit. Judean
5 Lit. Judean
c 2 Chr. 32:15
6 By paying tribute
d 1 Kin. 4:20, 25
e Deut. 8:7–9; 11:12
f 2 Kin. 19:12; Is. 10:10, 11
g 2 Kin. 19:13
h 2 Kin. 17:24
i Dan. 3:15
j Is. 33:7
a 2 Kin. 18:13; 2 Chr. 32:20–22; Is. 37:1
b Ps. 69:11
1 give birth
c 2 Sam. 16:12
d 2 Kin. 18:35
e Ps. 50:21
f Is. 37:6
g [Ps. 112:7]
h 2 Kin. 18:17
i 2 Kin. 19:35–37; Jer. 51:1
j 2 Kin. 18:14, 17
k 1 Sam. 23:27; Is. 37:9
l 2 Kin. 18:5
m 2 Kin. 18:33, 34
n Ezek. 27:23
o 2 Kin. 18:34
p Is. 37:14
q Ex. 25:22; Ps. 80:1; Is. 37:16
r [Is. 44:6]
s Ps. 31:2; Is. 37:17
t 1 Kin. 8:29; 2 Chr. 6:40
u 2 Kin. 19:4
v [Is. 44:9–20; Jer. 10:3–5]
w Ps. 115:4; Jer. 10:3; [Acts 17:29]
x Ps. 83:18
y 1 Kin. 8:42, 43
z Is. 37:21
a 2 Kin. 20:5; Ps. 65:2
b Jer. 14:17; Lam. 2:13
c Ps. 22:7, 8
d Jer. 51:5
e 2 Kin. 18:17
f Ps. 20:7
g Is. 19:6
h [Is. 45:7]
i Is. 10:5, 6
j Ps. 129:6
k Ps. 139:1–3; Is. 37:28
l Job 41:2; Ezek. 29:4; 38:4; Amos 4:2
m 2 Kin. 19:33, 36
n Ex. 3:12; 1 Sam. 2:34; 2 Kin. 20:8, 9; Is. 7:11–14; Luke 2:12
2 Without cultivation
o 2 Kin. 19:4; 2 Chr. 32:22, 23
p 2 Kin. 25:26; Is. 9:7
3 So with many Heb. mss. and ancient vss. (cf. Is. 37:32); MT omits of hosts
q Is. 8:7–10
r 2 Kin. 20:6; 2 Chr. 32:21
s Is. 31:5
t 1 Kin. 11:12, 13
u Ex. 12:29; Is. 10:12–19; 37:36; Hos. 1:7
4 Or Angel
v Gen. 10:11
w 2 Kin. 17:31
x 2 Kin. 19:7; 2 Chr. 32:21
y Ezra 4:2
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

God's relationship with All peoples

The New Covenant is the basis of the relationship between God and all peoples

John 6:53 - 58 reads,

53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless xyou eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 yWhoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is 2food indeed, and My blood is 3drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood zabides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 aThis is the bread which came down from heaven—not bas your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

x Matt. 26:26
y John 4:14; 6:27, 40
2 NU true food
3 NU true drink
z [1 John 3:24; 4:15, 16]
a John 6:49–51
b Ex. 16:14–35
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Matt 26:26-29 reads,

26 uAnd as they were eating, vJesus took bread, 3blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; wthis is My body.”

27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, x“Drink from it, all of you. 28 For ythis is My blood zof the 4new covenant, which is shed afor many for the 5remission of sins. 29 But bI say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on cuntil that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

u Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:17–20
v 1 Cor. 11:23–25
3 M gave thanks for
w [1 Pet. 2:24]
x Mark 14:23
y [Ex. 24:8; Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:20]
z Jer. 31:31
4 NU omits new
a Matt. 20:28; [Rom. 5:15; Heb. 9:22]
5 forgiveness
b Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18
c Acts 10:41
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

I Cor. 11:23 - 32 reads,

23 For tI received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: uthat the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 4“Take, eat; this is My body which is 5broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death vtill He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats wthis bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and 6blood of the Lord. 28 But xlet a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks 7in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the 8Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many 9sleep. 31 For yif we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, zwe are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

t 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:12; Col. 3:24
u Matt. 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:17–20; 1 Cor. 10:16
4 NU omits Take, eat
5 NU omits broken
v John 14:3; [Acts 1:11]
w [John 6:51]
6 NU, M the blood
x Matt. 26:22; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 6:4
7 NU omits in an unworthy manner
8 NU omits Lord’s
9 Are dead
y [Ps. 32:5; 1 John 1:9]
z 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 94:12; [Heb. 12:5–10; Rev. 3:19]
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

The required act from those who wanted to enter and benefit from the New Covenant is given by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 - 39,

38 Then Peter said to them, i“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the 2remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and jto your children, and kto all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

i Luke 24:47
2 forgiveness
j Joel 2:28, 32
k Acts 11:15, 18; Eph. 2:13
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

Reasons for the failure of the relationship between the Early Church and God

1. Seeking to be justified by fulfilling the Law rather than being justified by faith in the completed work of Christ

In Gal. 2:11 - 12 it reads,

11 tNow when 4Peter had come to Antioch, I 5withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, uhe would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing 6those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about vthe truth of the gospel, I said to Peter wbefore them all, x“If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, 7why do you compel Gentiles to live as 8Jews? 15 yWe who are Jews by nature, and not zsinners of the Gentiles, 16 aknowing that a man is not 9justified by the works of the law but bby faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not cby the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found dsinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I ethrough the law fdied to the law that I might glive to God. 20 I have been hcrucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh iI live by faith in the Son of God, jwho loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for kif righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died 1in vain.”

t Acts 15:35
4 NU Cephas
5 opposed
u [Acts 10:28; 11:2, 3]
6 Jewish Christians
v Gal. 1:6; 2:5; Col. 1:5
w 1 Tim. 5:20
x [Acts 10:28]; Gal. 2:12
7 NU how can you
8 Some interpreters stop the quotation here.
y [Acts 15:10]
z Matt. 9:11
a Acts 13:38, 39; Gal. 3:11
9 declared righteous
b Rom. 1:17
c Ps. 143:2; Rom. 3:20
d [1 John 3:8]
e Rom. 8:2
f [Rom. 6:2, 14; 7:4]; 1 Cor. 9:20
g [Rom. 6:11]
h [Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24; 6:14]
i Rom. 6:8–11; 2 Cor. 5:15; [Eph. 2:4–6; Col. 3:1–4]
j Is. 53:12; Eph. 5:2
k Heb. 7:11
1 for nothing
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

2. Accepting a different gospel and a different Christ then Who was written about in the New Testament Epistles

In 2 Cor. 11:4 it reads,

4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a hdifferent gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

h Gal. 1:6–8
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

3. Sectarian approach to the faith

In 2 Cor. 3:1-8 it reads,

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to ababes in Christ. 2 I fed you with bmilk and not with solid food; cfor until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and 1behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but dministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 eI planted, fApollos watered, gbut God gave the increase. 7 So then hneither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, iand each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

a 1 Cor. 2:6; Eph. 4:14; Heb. 5:13
b Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 2:2
c John 16:12
1 Lit. walking according to man
d Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 3:3, 6; 4:1; 5:18; 6:4; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:12
e Acts 18:4; 1 Cor. 4:15; 9:1; 15:1; 2 Cor. 10:14
f Acts 18:24–27; 1 Cor. 1:12
g [2 Cor. 3:5]
h 2 Cor. 12:11; [Gal. 6:3]
i Ps. 62:12; Rom. 2:6
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

I Cor 11:17-22 reads,

17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, nI hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For othere must also be factions among you, pthat those who are approved may be 2recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and qanother is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise rthe church of God and sshame 3those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

n 1 Cor. 1:10–12; 3:3
o Matt. 18:7; Luke 17:1; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 2:1
p [Deut. 13:3]; Luke 2:35; 1 John 2:19
2 Lit. manifest, evident
q 2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 12
r 1 Cor. 10:32
s James 2:6
3 The poor
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

4.  A loveless approach to Church conduct

In Rev. 2:1-7 it reads,

     “To the 1angel of the church of Ephesus write,

‘These things says aHe who holds the seven stars in His right hand, bwho walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 c“I know your works, your labor, your 2patience, and that you cannot 3bear those who are evil. And dyou have tested those ewho say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have fnot become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, gor else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

7 h“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give ito eat from jthe tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

1 Or messenger
a Rev. 1:16
b Rev. 1:13
c Ps. 1:6
2 perseverance
3 endure
d John 6:6; 1 John 4:1
e 2 Cor. 11:13
f Gal. 6:9; Heb. 12:3, 5
g Matt. 21:41
h Matt. 11:15; Rev. 2:11, 17; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9
i [Rev. 22:2, 14]
j [Gen. 2:9; 3:22]
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

5. Sexual Immorality and false ministries are tolerated

In Rev. 2:12-29 it reads,

12 “And to the 6angel of the church in Pergamos write,

‘These things says tHe who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of uBalaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, vto eat things sacrificed to idols, wand to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, 7which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and xwill fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden ymanna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone za new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ’

18 “And to the 8angel of the church in Thyatira write,

‘These things says the Son of God, awho has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 b“I know your works, love, 9service, faith, and your 1patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have 2a few things against you, because you allow 3that woman cJezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, 4to teach and seduce My servants dto commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time eto 5repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of 6their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who fsearches 7the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24 “Now to you I say, 8and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the gdepths of Satan, as they say, hI 9will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast iwhat you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps jMy works until the end, kto him I will give power over the nations—

27      ‘He lshall rule them with a rod of iron;

     They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—

as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him mthe morning star.

29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

6 Or messenger
t Is. 49:2; Rev. 1:16; 2:16
u Num. 31:16
v Num. 25; Acts 15:29; [1 Cor. 10:20]; Rev. 2:20
w 1 Cor. 6:13
7 NU, M likewise.
x Is. 11:4; 2 Thess. 2:8; Rev. 19:15
y Ex. 16:33, 34; [John 6:49, 51]
z Is. 56:5; 62:2; 65:15; Rev. 3:12
8 Or messenger
a Rev. 1:14, 15
b Rev. 2:2
9 NU, M faith, service
1 perseverance
2 NU, M against you that you tolerate
3 M your wife Jezebel
c 1 Kin. 16:31; 21:25; 2 Kin. 9:7, 22, 30
4 NU, M and teaches and seduces
d Ex. 34:15
e Rom. 2:5; Rev. 9:20; 16:9, 11
5 NU, M repent, and she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality.
6 NU, M her
f Ps. 7:9; 26:2; 139:1; Jer. 11:20; 17:10; Matt. 16:27; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; Rom. 8:27
7 examines
8 NU, M omit and
g 2 Tim. 3:1–9
h Acts 15:28
9 NU, M omit will
i Rev. 3:11
j [John 6:29]
k [Matt. 19:28]
l Ps. 2:8, 9; Rev. 12:5; 19:15
m 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 22:16
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

6. A Church life without the active working of The Holy Spirit

Rev. 3:1-6 reads,

“And to the 1angel of the church in Sardis write,

‘These things says He who ahas the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before 2God. 3 bRemember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and crepent. dTherefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you eas a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 3You have fa few names 4even in Sardis who have not gdefiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me hin white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes ishall be clothed in white garments, and I will not jblot out his name from the kBook of Life; but lI will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

6 m“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

1 Or messenger
a Rev. 1:4, 16
2 NU, M My God
b 1 Tim. 6:20
c Rev. 3:19
d Matt. 24:42, 43; Luke 12:39
e 1 Thess. 5:2; [2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15]
3 NU, M Nevertheless you
f Acts 1:15
4 NU, M omit even
g [Jude 23]
h Rev. 4:4; 6:11
i [Rev. 19:8]
j Ex. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Luke 10:20; [Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27]
k Phil. 4:3
l Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8
m Rev. 2:7
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

7. A compromising lukewarm approach to the Christian lifestyle

Rev. 3:14-22 reads,

14 “And to the 9angel of the church 1of the Laodiceans write,

j‘These things says the Amen, kthe Faithful and True Witness, lthe Beginning of the creation of God: 15 m“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither 2cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, n‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you oto buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and pwhite garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 qAs many as I love, I rebuke and rchasten. 3Therefore be 4zealous and repent. 20 Behold, sI stand at the door and knock. tIf anyone hears My voice and opens the door, uI will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes vI will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22 w“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”

9 Or messenger
1 NU, M in Laodicea
j Is. 65:16; 2 Cor. 1:20
k Rev. 1:5; 3:7; 19:11
l [Col. 1:15]
m Rev. 3:1
2 NU, M hot nor cold
n Hos. 12:8; Zech. 11:5; [Matt. 5:3]; 1 Cor. 4:8
o Is. 55:1; Matt. 13:44
p 2 Cor. 5:3
q Job 5:17
r Prov. 3:12; [2 Cor. 11:32]; Heb. 12:6
3 discipline
4 eager
s Song 5:2
t Luke 12:36, 37; John 10:3
u [John 14:23]
v Matt. 19:28; 2 Tim. 2:12; [Rev. 2:26; 20:4]
w Rev. 2:7
The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

 

Consequences for the failure of the relationship between the Early Church and God

  1. Denominations and factions within denominations resulted from Christians following after particular leaders and/or doctrines.
     
  2. Christians becoming in bondage to a legalistic practise of the faith rather than living by faith in the Grace of God
     
  3. In Rev. 2:5 Jesus Christ warns that Churches that have lost their first love will have their lamp stands removed from before Him unless they repented.
     
  4. In Rev 2:16, 23 The Lord Jesus Christ warns He will fight Churches that permit sexual immorality and false ministries and kill their children unless they repented.
     
  5. In Rev 3:5 The Lord Jesus Christ warns that He will blot out the names of those who have an appearance of having living faith but are actually dead unless they repented
     
  6. In Rev. 3:16 The Lord Jesus Christ warns that He will vomit out those who live a lukewarm Christian lifestyle and works unless they repented.

 

What can the 21st Century Church learn from the Early Church and Israel's experience?

  1. The sins that were apparent in the early Church are even more rampant in the 21st Century Church. This means that The Lord Jesus Christ's judgements are just as applicable today as they were then
     
  2. The Lord Jesus Christ continues to judge each Church and Christians. However, He sends them a warning to repent before the judgement
     
  3.  The judgements of Christ are the same in measure or severity as God did to the Israelites throughout their Old Testament experiences. This clearly includes casting into a bed of sickness and killing those who claim to be Christians because of their stubborn pursuit of wicked sinful practices and false ministries in the face of warnings from The Holy Spirit.  This also clearly shows that God has not changed in Justice, Mercy and Holiness towards all peoples, both Jews and Gentiles without respect or favour on anyone.
     
  4. There are ongoing judgements by Christ on Churches and Christians before the final judgement.  Christians and Churches should not be deceived to think that Christ will only be judging at the final judgement.
     
  5. Christians should not deceive themselves that just because they are born-again they cannot be sent to Hell even though they stubbornly continue to live dead, loveless Christian lives. Also if they continue to live a wicked and rebellious lifestyle ignoring the warnings of The Holy Spirit.
     

How can the failed relationship be restored?

  1. In Revelations Chapters 2 and 3 The Lord Jesus Christ repeatedly shows Grace by asking the Churches to repent and change their works to avoid judgement and restore right relationship with Him
     
  2. The Church should focus on the centrality of The Lord Jesus Christ's completed work for redemption and the present all important work of The Holy Spirit sent to spread the Gospel of Salvation through believers as well as prepare a Church worthy of her Lord and Saviour

     

Published 2006

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