ISRAEL AND JUDAH ARE TAKEN CAPTIVE
Scripture: 2 Kings 17:1-23; 23:37; 24:1-2, 8-20; 25:1-12
Memory verse: Psalm 33:12
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance."
You will need a hard-boiled egg with the shell removed, matches, a glass bottle with an opening barely smaller than the egg, and paper or a candle. Practice this experiment at home, and be sure there is fresh air in the bottle.
In class explain that there are always consequences of sin. Some consequences are felt in this life and some in eternity. Discuss how some think they are safe from sin’s consequences if they do only a few small wrong things.
Place the lit candle or paper in the bottle. Immediately put the egg on top of the bottle. Yet sin is sin and there are consequences to anything wrong we do. Watch the egg be slowly pulled from its safe spot on the rim of the bottle, down into the bottle.
Emphasize how no amount of sin, even small, is safe. All sin has the same consequence – eternal punishment. Sin also has its consequences in this life. The consequences may not be immediate, or even known to us, but they are there. There is no “safe spot” with sin. We should not play around with any kind of wrongdoing or disobedience to God.
Tell the class today’s lesson is about the consequences Israel, the Northern Kingdom, and Judah, the Southern Kingdom suffered due to their disobedience to God and His Word.
Hearing God’s Word
Ask: “How would you feel if you were forced to leave your country and go to another country to live as a captive? What would you miss most about your homeland?” What would you miss most about your homeland?” (Allow discussion. List the student’s responses on the chalkboard.)
Israel Will Not Listen To God
The Bible tells us of some people who were taken from their homes to a country hundreds of miles away. The people of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, were moved to the distant land of Assyria. They were taken captive because they had stopped serving God and had begun to worship idols. (Ask for volunteers to read 2 Kings 17:7-16)
Ask: “Why was this disobeying God?” (Allow discussion.)
God had warned Israel against idol worship and had told them what would happen if they disobeyed His laws. But the people refused to listen. They wanted to do things their own way.
God had been very patient with the people. Time after time they had sinned. When they did, God would send a prophet to speak His messages to them. God wanted to help His people because He loved them, but He couldn’t as long as they refused to obey Him.
God’s very last message to the Northern Kingdom was one of love. He sent His prophet Hosea to tell them He wanted to bless them, but they would not listen.
The people had no desire to obey or serve God. God said His love for them was like that of a father for his son. But Israel just ignored God and their practice of worshipping idols. Even though God had been with them and helped them from the very beginning of their nation, Israel forgot about all these things and worshiped the false gods just as their neighbours did. Like some people today, they thought that being like everyone around them was more important than doing what they knew was good and pleasing to God. God warned the people that punishment would one day come to them because of their disobedience. Again and again He asked them to come back to Him. Still, it did no good.
Assyria Defeats Israel
King Hoshea ruled Israel during the time the prophet Hosea came with God’s final message for them. Neither Hoshea not the people listened to Hosea’s warnings. Since the people would not listen, what finally happened to them? Finally God allowed King Shalmaneser and the nation of Assyria to conquer the Northern Kingdom. The people were taken away from their homes to live in the cities of Assyria and Media. Now they would have to spend their lives in a foreign country, away from the land they loved. Instead of being mighty and rich in their own land, they were ruled by others.
Judah Has Some Godly Kings
While this was happening in Israel, the people of Judah turned back to God under King Hezekiah’s reign. When Assyria tried to conquer Judah too, God protected them by sending an angel to destroy most of the Assyrian army.
Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah were good kings of Judah. They turned the hearts of the people back to obeying God. But sadly, with the exception of Asa who was godly and had a godly heir (Jehoshaphat), each time these king’s reigns were over an evil man would become king and turn the people away from God and back to worshipping idols. Although they had times of spiritual revival, the people of Judah still sinned against God during most of their history.
Babylon Threatens Judah
About 100 years after Assyria captured the people of Israel, Jehoiakim, a wicked king, began to rule Judah. Jehoiakim did not love God and did not encourage the people to obey God’s Word. Judah would not listen when God’s prophets warned them of their sin. What had happened to Israel 150 years before began happening to Judah now. However, by this time Babylon, not Assyria, was the country giving Judah trouble. The Babylonians became very powerful. They even began to conquer mighty Assyria.
When Jehoiakim died, Jehoiachin became king of Judah. Jehoiachin knew Judah would soon be captured. To save his people from suffering, he decided to surrender to the Babylonians when they attacked the city of Jerusalem. Because of that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, did not destroy Jerusalem but took captive all of the wealthy people, craftsmen and soldiers of Judah.
About 10,000 people of Judah were taken from their homes. All the temple treasures and the sacred vessels were taken to Babylon also. This left the country of Judah almost defenceless against anything else Nebuchadnezzar wanted to do later.
Zedekiah was left to rule the people who remained in Judah. But he had to do exactly what Nebuchadnezzar told him to do. That arrangement, however, didn’t last very long. About 9 years later, Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar’s army then invaded Judah again.
God told the prophet Jeremiah to tell Zedekiah to surrender when the armies arrived. But Zedekiah did not listen to God’s instructions. Instead, he had the city gates closed and bolted.
Nebuchadnezzar’s army camped outside the city and allowed no food to be taken inside. Before long the people in Jerusalem ran out of food. As the months went by, the people grew hungry and weak. The soldiers were then able to enter Jerusalem. This time they took nearly all of the people to Babylon to serve Nebuchadnezzar. Only a few of the very poor people were left behind to take care of the land.
Judah Is Conquered
The Babylonians set fire to Jerusalem and broke down the city walls. They destroyed the beautiful temple Solomon had built for God. Everything the people of Judah had prided themselves in was taken away from them.
Ask: “Why did God allow this terrible thing to happen to Judah?” (Allow discussion. Have a student read Amos 2:4.)
The people forgot about God, the only One who could help them. They chose instead to live the way they pleased. This sin brought their downfall.
Our memory verse this week is “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12). (Repeat the verse together with the students.) It is sad that a nation which could have had God’s blessing chose instead to disobey and bring His judgment on themselves.
Our choices Have Consequences
God still wants His people to obey and serve Him. Disobedience still brings God’s judgment. Each of us is responsible to serve God and do what we know is right. God cannot ignore sin. There comes a time when we must bear the consequence for the choices we make, whether they have been good or bad. The consequences may be in this life or in eternity. God does not want us to be slaves to sin.
Ask: “Can you think of some sins that can keep us from living the way God wants us to live?” (List the student’s responses on the chalkboard.)
It isn’t always easy to resist the temptation to live as we please and do what the crowd does. Only God’s power can keep us from becoming slaves of sin. But by listening to Him and obeying Him, we can remain free from sin.
God needs people to live in a way that is an example to others. The prophets had courage to bring God’s messages to the people. Even though the people made fun of them and often mocked and ignored them, they did what God wanted them to do. God will help you have courage to do the right thing too. Then God can use you to help others avoid becoming slaves to sin.
Accepting God’s Word
The eternal consequence of sin is hell. People make this choice by rejecting Jesus and not living for Him. The eternal consequence of accepting and loving Jesus is heaven. Which will you choose?
The Family of God
Individuals who confess their sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour become members of the family of God. The apostle Paul led Timothy to saving faith in Jesus Christ and often referred to him as "Timothy, my son" (1 Timothy 1:18). Believers in Christ Jesus are bonded together as family.
Mandinka youth leave their villages to attend a secondary school in the city. The classes and exposure to a new way of life opens their minds to the outside world. Their knowledge increases and they are open to a presentation of the gospel. Many are accepting Jesus as their Savior and experiencing the joy of salvation. But, often this disturbs their families back in the village and the students are rejected.
The new believers discover that they are now members of God's family and identify with a local church. Christian parents reach out to them and include them in their own family. Now the students know they belong and within this context they learn from the Scripture and are discipled. One church family has taken in 16 young men. They are truly a part of the family of God; "sons" in the Lord.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for the Mandinka
1. Ask: How can we pray for the Mandinka today?
2. Ask: What are some promises from God's Word that encourage us to trust Him for the salvation of Mandinka people?
3. Ask: Does our class have a responsibility to do something about reaching the Afar, the Hausa and the Mankinka with the gospel? How should we pray for our class in regard to this responsibility?
"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you" (James 4:7-8).
Study 14 | God's Character/O.T. Kings | africaatts.org/go-teach