Daily Devotion for August 18, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
I bless you, O God most high and Lord of mercies, who forever works great and mysterious deeds for me, glorious, wonderful, and numberless; who provides me with sleep as a rest from my infirmities and as a repose for my body tired by labor. I thank you that you have not destroyed me in my transgressions, but in your love toward mankind you have raised me up, as I lay in despair, that I may glorify your majesty.
I entreat your infinite goodness, enlighten the eyes of my understanding and raise up my mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open my mouth and fill it with your praise, that I may unceasingly sing and confess you, who is God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, the only-begotten Son, and the all-holy and good and life-giving Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
A Prayer of Thanksgiving
O God, who is near us always, I thank you for all the good gifts with which you have filled my life; for love that makes life beautiful, for all thoughts that uplift and gladden, for faith to believe and strength to attain, for every experience which humbles and teaches the need of you. Let me never doubt that, having led me thus far, you will lead me to the end. I wish to serve you; show me how I can do it best. Graciously look upon me and use me as you will. And grant that I may employ all of your gifts to the end of setting forth of your glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
[I share the same Spirit with every other Christian.]
I pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
My Spirit Longs for Thee
My spirit longs for thee
Within my troubled breast,
Though I unworthy be
Of so divine a Guest
Of so divine a guest
Unworthy though I be,
Yet has my heart no rest
Unless it come from thee.
~ John Byrom (1743)
2 Kings 17 (ESV) (excerpts)
Israel after Solomon (16): Assyria Annihilates the Northern Kingdom
In the ninth year of Hoshea [720 B.C.], the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in the cities of the Medes.
And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.”
Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.
And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. They feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away; so they do to this day.
Notes on the Scripture
We have completely bypassed 2 Kings 10-16. It is the history of the slow moral and religious deterioration of Israel and Judah under a menagerie of kings (although the much larger and more powerful Israel fares worse).
Amos and Jeroboam II
The great king of Israel during its last years was Jeroboam II, but instead of a straight history of him, taken from 2 Kings or 2 Chronicles, we will look at the period of Jeroboam II's reign from a different angle: the standpoint of his critics. For in his time arose a new kind of prophet, men called by the Spirit of God to speak His will and His intentions for the long-term future. The final warning to Israel of its total destruction came around 750 B.C., thirty years before Assyria obliterated it. The men who gave these warnings were recorded in the earliest prophetic books of the Bible: Amos and Hosea.
People do not often read these books, because of the prolonged, extreme, and repetitive invective of them quickly becomes tiresome. But when we understand the implications of today's Scripture, we see the rationale for such baleful harangues.
Today’s verses record the utter destruction of Israel. Ten of the twelve Hebrew tribes (the “lost tribes of Israel”) cease to exist. It initiates one of the three great traumas in 3500 years of Jewish history: the diaspora. God has reached His breaking point and has allowed most of the Hebrew nation to be dispossessed of the Promised Land, to be scattered about the world.
The Jews of the Northern Kingdom are removed from Palestine and sent to the “cities of the Medes”, from which they will disperse throughout the world. They will never return; even when Zionism results in the resettlement of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel 2400 years later, they will be “Jews”— Russians and Germans and Spaniards with a religious tradition — not Hebrews of the Tribes of Dan, Naphtali, etc.
The Assyrians resettled Palestine with a hodgepodge of foreigners, who will become the “Samaritans The Samaritans were not really a people; since they had to be called something, they took their collective name from the old capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Samaria.” of the New Testament,. They bring a variety of national gods with them — 2 Kings 17 specifies five completely different religions. Oddly, though, because of their syncretic nature, all of them begin to worship Yahweh, as well.
The only remaining major tribe is Judah, which continues to exist intact and hold Jerusalem and the surrounding lands, along with the tiny tribe of Benjamin. Judah has two great advantages: First, the Temple, and with it a convenient way to worship Yahweh; so no matter how much idolatry is practiced at any given time, some worship of the Lord generally continues. Second, it is ruled by the blood descendant of David, God's beloved and anointed king.
If one ever doubted the power of God, or His love of David, one need only look at a map of Assyria in those days. How on earth is Judah still standing?