Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 9
ISRAEL: FROM JOSHUA TO NEHEMIAH
Joshua, over a period of twenty-six years, gets the children of Israel to the place where they occupy all of land of Canaan west of the Jordan river, with the exception of two and half tribes who stay on the east side. One of them was Reuben, the other one was Gad, and the half tribe was Manasseh. Now I emphasize that for a reason. They are going to set up shop over here on the east side, which takes them all the way up to the Golan on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Now remember who they are: the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
When we get to Christ’s earthly ministry, I will be maintaining that Jesus only had anything to do with two Gentiles, the Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion. Invariably someone will come up after class and say, “Les, you forgot about the maniac in Gadara that Jesus cast the demons out of?” And I reply, “Oh he wasn’t a Gentile.” And they say “He had to be. He was over there on the east side of the Jordan.“ Then my answer is, “What are the first three letters of the word Gadarene? Well, it’s Gad. That maniac of Gadarene was a descendant of the tribe of Gad, which lived on the east side of the Jordan. So when Jesus dealt with that maniac of Gadarene, He was still dealing with someone who was more Jewish than Gentile.” So I merely wanted to mention that those two and a half tribes, stayed on the east side of the Jordan.
Now turn with me to II Kings Chapter 17. As we’ve skipped over now, the rest of the Book of Joshua which covered twenty-six years, we’re going to skip through the book of Judges which covers three to four hundred years. That’s a long time. That’s twice as long as America has been a nation. But in that period of the Judges, if you know anything of Jewish history at all, they have occupied the land of Canaan of course, but did they destroy the Canaanite people as God instructed? No they did not. And they got soft hearted and they thought, “We could use these people for servants or for one reason or another.” They left off destroying the Canaanite people. Now just exactly as God promised (we studied it two or three weeks ago), what kind of an effect did the Canaanite people have upon the children of Israel? They took them right into idolatry. Now that’s hard to comprehend. How a nation of people such as Israel, who had all of the manifestations, the miracle working power of their JEHOVAH God in their midst, could turn to pagan idols. The history of Israel then, throughout the three to four hundred years of the Book of Judges, was a roller coaster. They will reach a spiritual height under a good judge, who was merely a ruler under God. A God centered government. And then when he would pass off the scene, the children of Israel would forget all about him and Jehovah, and would dip into idolatry and down they would go. Enemies would come in and overrun them and tax them, and put them under servitude. And finally the Jews would cry and lament their state and God would hear them and bring another Judge on the scene. Now when I speak of the Judges, I’m talking about Gideon, Samson (although he was a sorry one), Barak, and the last of course was Samuel.
So every time they have a good judge come on the scene, Israel comes up spiritually, prospers materially and they have it pretty good. And then he dies and down they go. Then another good judge comes and up they go again. There was three to four hundred years of that. Now come back with me to I Samuel Chapter 8. Israel, after all of her ups and downs, has it fairly good at the time of Samuel. But Samuel is getting old. And his sons, of course were a grief to him. They were certainly not Godly. And so when his ungodly sons started carrying on, the people started to complain to Samuel. After all, his sons were not honoring Jehovah. And so they come to this place in I Samuel 8:4:
I Samuel 8:4,5
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And they said unto him, `Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: (they are not in relationship to Jehovah like you are) now make us a king to judge (or rule) us like (what?) all the nations.'”
See, everyone had their King. You want to remember that when God made that Covenant first with Abraham and then with Moses and the nation of Israel, the first thing that He mandated was that Israel was to be different. They were to be a set-apart nation of people. That’s what sanctification really means. They were to be a sanctified people. They weren’t supposed to be like the rest of the nations. But now what do they want? “Hey, we want to be like everybody else. They’ve all got a King, we want a King.” And poor old Samuel is just heartbroken. Read on, verse 6:
I Samuel 8:6,7a
“But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, `Give us a king to judge (or rule) us.’ And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, `Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: (do you hear what He’s saying? He’s saying, “Samuel, let them have their way.”) For they have not rejected thee (Samuel), but they have rejected me,…'”
They had turned on Jehovah. Now I imagine that Israel well knew that all these nations around them that had kings were pagan. They were idolaters, every one of them. I always have to stress that no one but Israel had the knowledge of the One True God. And when Israel would leave off and go into idolatry, there was no witness left. And then God would have to, again, pick out one man, such as a Gideon or a Samson or a Samuel. It was a sorry state of affairs. So anyway, they’ve rejected God and He says, “Go ahead and let them have a king.” And when you get into Chapter 9, you get the account of Israel choosing their first king, and who is it? King Saul.
Several people had written that they picked this up through the program, and I’m glad when people think about some of these things. All through Scripture, there is a format that is never abridged and it is, first the natural and then the spiritual. It carries all the way through, from Genesis to Revelations. Now what do I mean, first the natural and then the spiritual? Adam, the first man was natural. He was of the earth; he was earthy. The second Adam, as we pick up then in Romans and Corinthians is who? Christ. And He wasn’t earthy, He was spiritual. First the natural and then the spiritual. So now you come into the birth of the first two boys on record. The first was Cain, a natural man who had no faith. The second wasAble, the spiritual man. You come forward a little (and I’m just hitting a few of the well known ones) and find Esau, the natural, no faith, and Jacob, the spiritual.
Now we come to King Saul, the natural, not a godly man. And who will follow him? David, the spiritual. And all the way through Scripture. Now bring it down to our own situation.We come on the scene and what are we? We’re natural. That’s our lost estate, we’re natural. We’re of the flesh. But when we have our born again experience, we become what? Spiritual. And I said all the way to the very end. First you have the false Christ, the counterfeit Christ, the man AntiChrist, the natural. And he will be followed by the second coming again of the true Christ, the spiritual. So just watch for it, all through Scripture. First the natural and then the spiritual.
So then King Saul comes on the scene as the first king. He is natural. He is of the flesh. He is not of the spirit of God. And of course you know what happened to Saul during his reign. He finally went off the scene in disrepute and King David comes on the scene and takes his place. Now just as a quick, off-the-cuff review of Israel’s history. Most of you are aware that after David dies, and Solomon takes the throne, Solomon took the Kingdom of Israel to it’s greatest height. Under Solomon, Israel even had a little more than the 2 1/2 tribes had on the east side of Jordan. Remember under the Abrahamic Covenant the Euphrates River was the eastern border of the Nation of Israel. King Solomon didn’t get all their land, but he got more than any other of Israel’s kings. Of course, Israel will have to wait until Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom to receive all the land that was promised to them under the Abrahamic Covenant. But, nevertheless, under King David and King Solomon, Israel did reach a pinnacle of greatness. Remember what the Queen of Sheba said? “Why, the half hasn’t even been told of the glory of Solomon’s Kingdom.”
It had great copper mines, which the scoffers said for years they couldn’t have had because they didn’t have the technology. Well, now we know they did. Solomon indeed produced copper. He had chariots and horsemen by the thousands. They had a great world trade with the then-known world under Solomon. But even though Solomon started out as a Godly king, how did he finally wind up? Well, with his 900 pagan wives, and his altars all over Israel, he was setting the stage for the fall and demise again of God’s Covenant people.
So Solomon dies. And Solomon has a son by the name of Rehoboam. And he was naturally heir apparent to the throne. And so Rehoboam comes on the scene and immediately the elders of Israel tell him, “Now look, your father built a great and glorious kingdom, but it was at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer.” Aren’t we up against the same thing today? Remember, a few years ago, when they had that tax increase that was supposed to balance the budget. For every dollar that they raised our taxes, how much did they spend? A dollar and eighty-three cents. That’s exactly what is happening to us. They can raise our taxes, but they spend twice as much as they take in. Well, it was the same way under Solomon. Nothing is new under the sun. They taxed them to death. So they told Rehoboam, “Now look, your father Solomon was a great king, but he taxed us and he taxed us and he taxed us. Back off from that and Israel will just elevate you. They will just think the world of you.” Good advice wasn’t it. But what did Rehoboam do? He said, “No way. Tax them some more.”
So when Rehoboam refused to lower the taxes and keep peace among the people, the ten tribes of the north (except Judah and Benjamin) seceded I guess we would say. And they said,“Alright, we’ll have our own king.” And that turned out to be a man who was not even in the kingly or royal line. And his name was Jeroboam. It’s not necessary to remember these names, but nevertheless you have Rehoboam, now, a son of Solomon, who is going to set up shop on his father’s throne in Jerusalem, where of course, the Temple is now. So we have these ten tribes of the north which we normally refer to as Israel, or the northern kingdom. And we have Judah and Benjamin down here in the southern part. And so Rehoboam is king here in Jerusalem, and Jeroboam becomes the king of the northern ten tribes. Keep that in mind because I think this is relatively important, even up to our own day. So the nation is divided. The first part of Israel that will go into abject idolatry will be the northern kingdom under Jeroboam. He immediately leads the northern ten tribes into idolatrous worship. So they’re going to go down the banana peel first. A hundred and fifty years later, Judah is going to follow.
So now we come to II Kings Chapter 17. Again, a lot of time has gone by. The years are piling up. We are at the time of the fall of these northern tribes, about 740 or 750 B.C. Look what God has to do. They’ve been going down, down, down. Here was the state of Israel. I know that this is almost too fast a review of Israel’s history, but not everybody likes history like I do, so I won’t bore you with it unnecessarily. But as the nation has been divided, they have set up a separate government and religious system at Samaria. And now Syria is up here to the northeast. And Syria has always been a mortal enemy of Israel. And The Book says:
II Kings 17:7-9a,10
“For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods, And walked in the statues of (who?) the heathen (imagine. They became just exactly like those heathen Canaanites all around them.), whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made. And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God… And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:”
Can you imagine what that was like? As you would walk through the countryside of Israel, wherever there was a little hill with trees growing on it, what was in the middle of it? Some idol, or shrine. So it was easy to just stop and worship.
II Kings 17:11
“And when they burnt incense in all the high place, as did the heather whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:”
Remember, it wasn’t that they just bowed their knee to an idol, which was bad enough. But when you go into idolatry, you go into abject immorality as well; in the name of religion. That is the way it has always been, and always will be. So they went into all the sins of the heathens:
II Kings 17:12
“For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, `Ye shall not do this thing.'”
II Kings 17:14a,15a,16a
“Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks,… And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers,… And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God (do you see what they are doing? They are just literally telling God, “Get out of my life, we don’t want you, we don’t want you in our national life or personal life.”),…”
II Kings 17:17
“And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire,…”
They actually offered their own little children to the gods in fire. The idol of Molock was sort of like a Buddha with his arms outstretched, and they would heat that white hot, and then lay their babies on the outstretched arms of the god Molock. That’s just unbelievable that an Israelite would do that. Well God couldn’t take it any more.
Let’s leave II Kings for a moment and go to Jeremiah. Jeremiah foretold all these things and tried to warn Israel as well as Judah. Remember Jeremiah was primarily in the Southern Kingdom. Now, in Jeremiah 44, we see the mentality of the Israelites. And this is why God had to deal so severely with them. They had completely turned their back on everything He had tried to do with them. Now as we look at all of this, keep your mind on Genesis 12, when God called Abraham, and made that Covenant with him, that they were to be a nation of people living in the land, who would in turn be under His Sovereign Kingship. And then, if they would be a nation of believers, God would use them to take a knowledge of Himself to all those heathen around them. But you see, they are losing their set-apart position. They are losing everything God had given them. Now look what they do. It looks like we are seeing the same thing today. I’m not anti-feminist, you ladies know that. But when it comes to apostasy in spiritual things, the women lead the way. Look at it here:
“Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods (who was doing it? Their wives) and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, `As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.
“But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven (who was the queen of heaven? The female goddess. It was always the female goddess that was at the very core of most abject idolatry.), and to pour out drink offerings unto her,…
“But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things (they are saying, “If we don’t worship the queen of heaven, we won’t have anything. We can’t even get food to eat if we don’t worship her.” That is what they are saying.),…”
“Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, `The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings,…'”
Now let’s come back to II Kings. What did He finally have to do? Remember, we are talking about the Northern 10 Tribes:
II Kings 17:18
“Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.”
II Kings 17:20,21a,22,23
“And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight. For he rent Israel from the house of David (that was when they succeeded); and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king:… For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them (and now read that last verse); Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.”