2 Kings 115:12-31; 16: Assyrian Invaders
These were troubled days in Israel and in Judah. It had been promised to Jehu because he destroyed the family of Ahab, that his children of the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel. (2 Kings 10:30) This promise was fulfilled: Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II, Zachariah. After this came a time of trouble and many changes. If you read 2 Kings 15:12-31, you find the names of several kings who reigned for short times in Israel. Notice especially the mention of Pul the king of Assyria, in verse 19, and Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, in verse 29. Probably the same king is meant. The great nation from beyond the Euphrates is appearing on the scene and will soon bring the kingdom of Israel to an end. In verses 19 and 20, we find the king of Israel paying the king of Assyria a great sum of money “to confirm the kingdom in his hand.” In verse 29, we find the king of Assyria taking a part of the kingdom of Israel and carrying captives away. This was the beginning of the end.
Reading on in chapter l6, we find the king of Assyria mentioned in connection with Ahaz king of Judah. He seems to be his friend, for he comes to help the king of Judah against his enemies the Syrians. But this very friendship was the means of bringing trouble to Judah. While Tiglath-pileser, the king of Assyria, was in Damascus, Ahaz went there to meet him, and saw an altar there which pleased him so much that he ordered Urijah the priest at Jerusalem to make one like it. How wrong this was! The Lord had commanded that the altars of the heathen should be destroyed. (Deut. 7:5; 12:3: Judges 2:2) Yet here Ahaz had an altar made like the heathen altar at Damascus, the very country that fought against Judah, and tried to destroy it: and then he made it the chief altar in Jerusalem, placing the altar that Solomon had dedicated to the north of it, and the north means the place of darkness. So he disobeyed the Lord, and showed that he loved idols better.
Do you remember how the temple was planned? What was in the most holy place? What in the holy place? What was in the court? Ahaz now spoiled the beautiful bases on which the lavers rested, and took the lavers away, and he took also the twelve brass oxen away and placed the great brass sea on stones. (1 Kings 7:23-39) And he also spoiled the beautiful covered passageway, perhaps it was a colonnade, through which the king went to the temple on the Sabbath day. And all this was the consequence of his not trusting in the Lord, but in the king of Assyria.
1. For how many generations did the descendants of Jehu rule?
2. What did the king of Assyria do when Menahem was king of Israel? What when Peka was king?
3. What did the king of Assyria do for Ahaz king of Judah?
4. How was this the means of bringing harm to Judah?
Assyria stands for reason. When you hear people reasoning in apparently a very logical way against belief in the Word of God, or against belief in Jesus Christ as God, against a belief in the life hereafter, then you have the king of Assyria with his army marching against Israel. To the extent to which people allow their faith to be weakened and taken away by such reasoning, the Assyrian invades their spiritual Canaan and carries off first the silver (knowledge), then the people in Gilead and in the north (the more external and natural goodness and truth of the church), and finally all the people. It is important, therefore, to have a strong, intelligent, living faith undisturbed by false reasoning. (A. 1187: E. 654)
Assyria is directly the enemy of Israel - false reasoning destroying a true heavenly intelligence. But it is indirectly the enemy of Judah also. It leads to the substitution of other ideals than those which the Lord has taught us to love and worship. Natural and selfish ambitions borrowed from the ways of the world displace true worship of the Lord; so we copy the altar of Damascus. (What in particular is meant by removing the Lord's altar to the north side?) We neglect the duty of repentance and obedience to the Lord’s commandments; so we remove the lavers from their bases and the great laver from its brazen oxen. And then also we lack the Divine protection that would lead us to a holy life in our Heavenly Father's home, for such protection is represented by “the covert” or “covered way” for the Sabbath. (A. 10042, 10235)