Friday, May 01, 2020
The Vision (5.1.20): The LORD removed Israel out of his sight
Image: Lily pond, off the Billy Goat Trail, Great Falls Park, Montgomery, Maryland, April 2020.
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 17.
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight (2 Kings 17:18a).
2 Kings 17 is a key chapter in 1-2 Kings, as it describes the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the hand of the Assyrians and the origin of the “Samaritans” who will figure so prominently in Christ’s ministry. What spiritual truths can we gleam from 2 Kings 17?
First, beneath the outward historical and political events of this world, there is the unseen hand of God.
The Lord brings judgment on men and nations that spurn his commands and reject his ways.
Notice how much of the judgment upon Israel came about because of his false worship, its rejection of the Regulative Principle. Dale Ralph Davis in his commentary on 2 Kings 17 writes: “So pagan religion creates what it likes; biblical faith receives what is revealed. Pagan worship is based on what they prefer; Biblicists must worship based on what God reveals” (2 Kings, 259).
We need to add here a note of caution. 2 Kings 17 is an inspired account. The historian was moved by the Holy Spirit. The explanation here is infallibly true. The historian was not providing an opinion but the Word of God.
Our evaluations of circumstances are not like that, and so we cannot speak with that kind of authority. Therefore, we need to have a much greater degree or caution and humility.
Why had the LORD allowed this virus pandemic and the reactions of the nations of the world and the political and economic uncertainty that has come about? Is it to chasten our nation? Is it to chasten the church?
We need to be careful about declaring what cannot be declared with authority. When Job questioned God’s sovereignty in his suffering the Lord answered him from the whirlwind, and Job replied, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth” (Job 40:4).
Our task is not to know the reasons behind every circumstance but to be faithful in the midst of every circumstance.
Second, even in God’s crushing judgment there is evidence of his coming mercy.
I see that in the formation of the Samaritans. Israel was taken out of God’s sight as a nation, but we might also say that to some degree they remained in this new religiously and spiritually confused people the “Samaritans.”
When Christ comes he will tell a parable about the good Samaritan, using him as an example of one who loved his neighbor as himself (Luke 10).
He talked to the Samaritan woman at the well and told her he could give her “living water” adding, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14a).
After his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, Acts 8 records how the evangelist Philip “went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them” (v. 5), adding that when they believed the things that Philip preached “they were baptized both men and women” (v. 12).
2 Kings 17 is a crushing account of God’s judgment, but it is not the end of the story. Through Christ, the grace of God will, in due time, be extended even to Samaritans.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle