Looking at God’s judgement with humility (2 Kings 17)

Looking at God’s judgement with humility (2 Kings 17)

The great tragedy of the Old Testament is described for us in 2 Kings 17. God brought his judgement on the northern kingdom of Israel. Using the nation of Assyria, God defeated his own people, deporting them to other nations. This judgement was fair and a long time coming; anyone other than God would have run out of patience a great deal earlier. Yet the fact remains that a large proportion of God’s people lost their covenant blessings and were cast from God’s sight in the events of this chapter.

How does this make you feel? It’s not the only time we see God’s fair judgement fall on his Old Testament people. We see it in the wilderness, at times in the conquest, in the time of the Judges, and of course here in the fall of Israel. It is tempting to feel a little superior. After all, when we see the list of things that these people did, we might not have done exactly the same things. We might not have bowed down to other gods. We don’t have golden calves in our backyards. We have not sacrificed our children on an altar.

If we do ever feel superior to the people under God’s judgement in the Bible, we have misunderstood. We are no better than them. We too, by nature, reject God and live for ourselves in all kinds of ways. We desire to live like those around us who do not know God. We fail to do what we should. We do not deserve God’s blessing; we deserve God’s judgement as well. But for the grace of God, we would be the same as them.

We see this in the wider context of 2 Kings 17. The people of Judah in the southern kingdom were no better than their brothers in Israel. The writer of Kings makes this explicit in 2 Kings 17:18-19. Judah was also to face judgement, but one that was not permanent, one they would return from. And they were promised a new covenant that would be kept for them. No-one is OK with God by being good enough. All of us deserve judgement; salvation is always a gift.

So how should we respond to passages like 2 Kings 17? There are two broad categories. One is with humility, realising that we do the same kinds of things. We should heed the warnings there and assess our lives and strive to honour our God more faithfully. The second category of response is to thank God for Jesus. Even if we do everything as well as we can, we still deserve God’s judgement. Seeing ourselves in the shoes of those who were obviously under the judgement of God needs to make us realise that we need Jesus more than we imagine.

God has been so gracious to undeserving people like us. How incredible!