Scott Pennington, Small Group Facilitator
These passages deal with the end of the 20-year siege of Israel by Assyria in which the northern 10 tribes are finally conquered and taken into captivity in 722 BC. This occurred in the ninth year of Hosea (2 Kings 17:6). Hosea was the last king of Israel, the author of the book of Hosea and one of the 12 minor prophets. (As a side note, there were 3 major prophets–Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah–and the determination of who was a major prophet and who was a minor prophet was not their importance in history, but the length of the book they wrote.)
In many ways, Hosea is indicative of the Israel as a whole. Hosea marries a prostitute, Gomer (Hosea 1:2), who is unfaithful to Hosea (Hosea 3:1). This adulterous relationship is analogous to the kind of relationship Israel had with God. Israel worshiped idols and “walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them” (2 Kings 17:8). They did not follow God’s commandments and Hosea led (or at least allowed) God’s people to stray.
The 2 Kings passages might be summed up in the following verses from 2 Kings 17:
“…because the sons of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh (v. 7)… Israel was carried away into exile from their own land to Assyria” (v. 23).
There are consequences of sin. Israel experienced this. We also experience this when we sin. But hope is offered in Isaiah 1:18:
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.”
“Therefore, brothers, you must understand that through Him the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and that everyone who believes in him is justified and freed from everything that kept you from being justified by the Law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39) It is not within our power to follow the commandments and be “white as snow,” but we have been declared “justified” … just-if-I’d never sinned, through our relationship with Jesus.