Why God Judged Israel
By Tom Holt
I Corinthians 10:1-12
Moved By the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul writes in the beginning of I Corinthians 10 of a few occasions when Israel was judged by God. He points to those Israelites with whom God was not well pleased and who, as a result, were overthrown in the wilderness; those who committed fornication and 23,000 died in one day; and those who tempted God by grumbling and were destroyed of serpents.
He then explains in verses 11,12:Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
We are now living in the closing period of the last days. And so, it is all the more important that we take heed, making sure that we truly stand righteous before God. It is therefore helpful to examine the Scripture and see why God disowned Israel.
I. The sins of Jeroboam
Because Solomon turned disobedient in his old age, God caused ten of the twelve Jewish tribes to secede from Jerusalem after his death. They set up the northern kingdom of Israel and asked Jeroboam to be their king.
Jeroboam was very wicked, so much so that right from the start of that kingdom, God condemned Israel. He says in I Kings 14:15,16:For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and
he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Lord to anger. And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.
Significantly, God singles out one particular sin of Jeroboam as His reason for cutting the house of Jeroboam off. We read in I Kings 13:33,34:Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.
Lesson: In the Old Testament, only people from the tribe of Levi were allowed to be priests, because that tribe was a type of believers. Likewise, only we whom God had elected to save before time began are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood", according to I Peter 2:9. So, preachers and evangelists preaching gospels that offer easy conversion or freewill salvation are effectively making "whosoever would" priests of the high places. Remember, "this thing" was that which caused God to destroy the house of Jeroboam.
II. The pride of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah was one of the few
good kings of the southern kingdom of Judah. He purified the temple, celebrated the Passover, and had great faith when the country was besieged by Assyria. But like Solomon, he stumbled in his old age. We read in II Chronicles 32:24,25:In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the Lord: and he spake unto him, and he gave him a sign. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
The king had been told by Isaiah that he was going to die, but God, responding to his prayer, gave him fifteen more years to live. Sadly, Hezekiah did not appreciate the good done to him, but became arrogant instead. How? When emissaries from Babylon came to visit, he showed them all his treasures. That act of pride, according to this passage, was that which brought God's wrath upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Being a true child of God, the king repented. As a result, the Bible says in verse 26, "Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah." In short, God held back His judgment against Judah and Jerusalem until the king had died.
Lesson: No matter how faithful a servant of God we might have been and how much we have been blessed by our Lord, we must remain humble. And should our heart be lifted up in a moment of weakness, we are to repent and humble ourselves again before God.
III. The provocation of Manasseh.
It was during his fifteen extra years that Hezekiah begot Manasseh, who later succeeded him as king of Judah. Manasseh was extremely wicked; he built up high places, reared up altars for Baal and even built altars to the starry hosts right in the courts of the Lord's temple. He also practiced sorcery and divination and dealt with mediums and spiritists.
Because of that God declares in II Kings 21:12, "Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle." The seriousness of Manasseh's rebellion can best be seen from what God says a few decades later.
Josiah became the king of Judah two years after Manasseh's death. In II Kings 23:25, God has this to say of him: "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him."
But note what God says in verse 26, "Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal." In other words, despite the super godly service of Josiah, God brought evil upon Jerusalem and Judah because of all the bad things that Manasseh had done.
Lesson: God hates idolatry. He says in Isaiah 42:8, "I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." Idolatry is not limited to worshipping graven images. Colossians 3:5 reminds us that it includes covetousness. Whenever we desire something or someone more than we love God, we are committing that grievous sin. And even as Manasseh dealt with mediums and spiritists, we provoke God when we, instead of inquiring of the Lord to help solve problems that are spiritual in nature, seek advice from "experts" and "counselors" in the world. Remember, the world is ruled by the prince of the power of the air.
IV. The undermining of God's word
In Jeremiah 9, God again warns of His upcoming judgment against Israel. He says in verse 11, "I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant." This time, He explains in verses 13,14:Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; but have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:
Lesson: The Bible alone and in its entirety is the Word of God. Not only should we read it, but we are to obey it and walk therein. "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only," James 1:22 says. This means we take the whole Bible seriously, not just those parts we happen to like. And this means we do not change God's rules for expedience sake, substituting them with ideas coming from man's sin-tinted imagination.
V. The sacrifice of children
In Jeremiah 7:20, God says to Judah, "Behold, mine anger and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched." That, of course, is language of eternal damnation in hell. Verses 30,31 then give the reason:For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the Lord: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
Not only did they build high places away from the Jerusalem Temple to worship other gods, they even sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. This was something Moses had specifically warned the Israelites against in Deuteronomy 12:30,31:Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
Lesson: None of us would burn our sons and daughters, of course, but if we should fail to discipline our children, we would in effect be killing them spiritually. God says in Proverbs 23,13,14: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
To a considerable degree, God saves His elect through the family. Paul told the jailer in Philippi, for instance, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). And I Corinthians 7:14 reveals that every child of a believing parent even if the other parent is unsaved is holy. This doesn't mean that the child will surely be saved, but to the extent that he has a better opportunity to hear the gospel than most other people, he has been set apart by God. Put another way: every believing parent has the duty to witness to his children.
Thus, we Christian parents are to heed the command to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Besides living a godly life, we teach them the Bible whenever we can. God says in Deuteronomy 6:6,7:And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou rises up.
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