Explore The Bible Study: God Judges

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Why do people (myself included) ignore warnings, disregard warning signs and act in a way that could be life-threatening to themselves or to others? When people ignore a warning and they get into trouble or something bad happens, will they take responsibility for their actions? The Explore the Bible Study: God Judges, will examine these questions.

2 Kings 17 describes what happens when God’s people ignore God’s continued warnings regarding repentance. Hoshea has become the king over Israel (The Northern Kingdom). 2 Kings 17:1-2 tells us that he reigned nine years but continued the evil practices of his predecessors. Sadly, this had been the cycle that had been described in chapters 11-17 in Israel (The Northern Kingdom) and Judah (The Southern Kingdom). Hoshea is the final ruler over the Northern Kingdom before it’s fall in 722 B.C.

At the beginning of Hoshea’s reign, he had to submit to Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. Eventually, he tried to move the Northern Kingdom out from under the reign of Assyria by getting help from Egypt. This led to Shalmaneser of Assyria capturing Hoshea and invading the Northern Kingdom (17:3-5). After a three-year siege, Assyria captured Samaria and exiled the inhabitants (17:6).

2 Kings 17:7-20 reveals why the Northern Kingdom was defeated. It occurred because the people sinned against God and refused to repent (17:7). We will see the results of sin and unrepentant hearts in this passage that should serve as a warning that God cannot and will not ignore sin.

God Warns Repeatedly – 2 Kings 17:7-13

The writer of 2 Kings placed the blame exactly where it belonged: this disaster happened because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God. The Northern Kingdom abandoned God and consequently received judgment.

Here is how their sin is described in 2 Kings 17:8-12. V.8 – They lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. What customs in our culture today might we be tempted to accommodate or embrace? V.8 – God’s people of the Northern Kingdom lived according to what the kings of Israel did. We have leaders today that we might admire. They might be church leaders or governmental leaders. How might we sin by living according to what they do? V.9 – The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. Do you think believers view sins done in secret as being less damaging? Why or why not? Vv9-12 – The Israelites worshipped all kinds of idols in all kinds of way. When you examine their actions toward these idols, can you see similarities in how something today can become an idol? Can you give examples?

Here is how their sin is described in 2 Kings 17:8-12.

V.8 – They lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites.

What customs in our culture today might we be tempted to accommodate or embrace?

V.8 – God’s people of the Northern Kingdom lived according to what the kings of Israel did.

We have leaders today who we might admire. They might be church leaders or governmental leaders. How might we sin by living according to what they do?

V.9 – The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right.

Do you think believers view sins done in secret as being less damaging? Why or why not?

Vv9-12 – The Israelites worshiped all kinds of idols in all kinds of ways.

When you examine their actions toward these idols, can you see similarities in how something today can become an idol? Can you give examples?

Today’s world is in some ways little different from ancient Israel. Believers face numerous temptations to compromise and to adopt the world’s practices—practices the Bible says we should avoid. Verses 11-13 tell us that this angered the Lord, yet He continued to warn and extend grace. God called His people to turn back to Him by sending countless warnings through every prophet and every seer. 

God still calls people today to repent and turn to Him. When we repent of our sins and place our faith in the Lord Jesus, we become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) and God adopts us into His family (Galatians 4:4-7). Each of us bears a personal responsibility to choose Christ. As believers, God continually warns us to avoid embracing sin. He knows what sin does to us and to our relationship with Him. Because He is holy, He can’t leave sin unpunished. We must listen to His warnings, yet we will see next that we all have a tendency to ignore God’s warnings.

Why do we ignore God’s warnings? – 2 Kings 17:14-17

Verse 14 sums up the human condition regarding sin that so often prevails when God warns us: 

They would not listen.

Why don’t people listen to God’s warnings regarding sin? Why don’t you listen to God’s warnings regarding sin?

Not only would God’s people not listen, but they also became obstinate (literally “stiffened their necks”). They stood defiantly against God and refused to bow their heads in submission. The warnings only emboldened them to sin further. Their desire to sin led them to ultimately sacrifice their sons and daughters to their idols. Finally, verse 17 states that they devoted themselves to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight.

Notice God’s response: 

It angered Him.

Do you think that people today expect God to be angry at them when they sin?

When people today read that God is angry over sin, they immediately begin talking about how “God is love.” It’s His love that delays judgment for our continued sins. It’s his love that delays total destruction of this sin-broken world. It’s His love that sent His Son to pay for our sin. Yet, we seem to always drift toward desiring the things that would destroy us despite God’s love.

Why do people find it easy to reject God’s will and commandments and opt instead for hollow satisfactions that do not last?

God will only allow us to ignore His warnings for a season – 2 Kings 17:18-20

God had extended grace and given warnings time and time again. But now God had to act. Sin had become so blatant, and His people had become so perverted by sin that He had to judge them for their unrepentant hearts. Verse 18 should give all who profess Christ pause to consider what sin does. First, God wasn’t just angry, but the Lord was very angry. This anger resulted in a judgment that no one should desire to experience—the separation from God’s presence.

Ephesians 4:18 tells us that sin separates everyone from God: “They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.” Those who continue in sin develop hard hearts. The separation caused by sin dooms us to an eternity away from Him—except for one thing: Jesus Christ.

Someone who is lost and unrepentant might not be concerned with living in the presence of Holy God, but it should be concerning for Christians.  As Christians we can’t lose our salvation, but our sin can separate us from God’s fellowship.

Do you know what it is like to feel as if God isn’t present in your life because of unconfessed sin?

Gotquestions.org describes the separation from the presence of God a believer experiences this way:“Sin is like a dark curtain pulled over a sunny window. The sun is still there, but the curtain creates a separation from its warmth and light. Repentance lifts the curtain and restores the relationship we once enjoyed (1 John 1:9). Any unconfessed sin in the life of a follower of Jesus can create a sense of separation from God. God does not leave us, but the light and warmth of fellowship was cut off when we chose sin. We do not lose our salvation, because Jesus paid our debt in full. But we can lose the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit when we persist in living apart from God.”

Notice also in this passage that, not only did the Israelites quit experiencing the presence of God, but everything they had lived for while not honoring God was taken away.

Heed God's Warnings

God warns us throughout Scripture that judgment awaits all who reject God. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John assured his readers that the most blessed part of eternal life is that God is with us directly (Revelation 21:3-4; 22:5). On the other hand, the most awful aspect of God’s judgment is that people who reject Him spend eternity without Him (Matthew 25:41). Second Kings 17 provides a strong warning to those who persist in unbelief and rebellion. Judgment day is coming, and all those who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior will experience God’s everlasting judgment (Matthew 25:46).

For many today, rebellion is due to a lack of respect or knowledge of God; these are people who don’t have a personal relationship with God. But, for those of us who do know God, now is not the time to turn away from Him and embrace the sins that influence our culture today. It’s a time to draw near to God.

Maybe God is trying to get your attention today.  Consider whether you are listening to or ignoring God. If you are a believer, He won’t let you ignore Him forever. He will get your attention through His discipline. If you aren’t a believer, a warning has been given. Won’t you listen and turn to the one who desires for you to experience a loving relationship instead of His impending judgment?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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