Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Countdown to Destruction: 2

The Book of Psalms delivers a poignant picture of the exiled Israelite: slumped down by the rivers of Babylon in 586 B.C., weeping when he looked far to the west remembering Zion (137:1). But as soon as he was settled in this land between the Tigris and Euphrates, he realized that, except for a few snags in the beginning when Nebuchadnezzar attempted to impose his religion on him (Daniel 3:1–30), a generally lenient policy to self-improvement welcomed him through exposure to the kingdom’s culture of learning and opportunity to generate wealth. According to experts, the Babylonian Empire was later taken over by a series of enlightened rulers who treated their captives with tolerance. Even the Bible in 2 Kings 25 testifies to this assertion when—

Stapleton Collection/Corbis
“In the thirty-seventy year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin from prison on the twenty-seventh day of the twelfth month. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher that those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. Day by day the king gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived” (verse 27–30).

But even during the days of Nebuchadnezzar, there was a distinct Babylonian favor apportioned for the Israelite. This fact is further documented in the Bible. Years before King Nebuchadnezzar fatefully torched and leveled Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the Babylonian Emperor raided the city and took with him articles from the Temple of God and an elite group of captives:

Brooklyn Museum/Corbis
“…some Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men, without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand” (Daniel 1:3–4). 

These were the high born of Israelite society personally handpicked by the Nebuchadnezzar to serve him in the palace, not the poor of the land whom not even the Babylonian commander of the guard believed to deserve exile or death (2 Kings 25:12):

“Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile the people who remained in the city, along with the rest of the populace and those who had gone over the king of Babylon. But the commander left behind some of the poorest of the people of the land to work the vineyards and fields (verse 11 and 12, emphasis mine).

Among the Israelite elite was a young man named Daniel, chosen for royal scholarship to later serve as one of Nebuchadnezzar’s advisers. He and others like him were to be trained in “the language and literature of the Babylonians…for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service” (Daniel 1:4 and 5).

It was supposed to be an uneventful predictable three years for Nebuchadnezzar and his staff who would be providing the education, training, and the food—“a daily amount of food and wine [assigned to them] from the king’s table” (verse 5)—if it weren’t for Daniel and his three friends standing up for what they believed was righteous and holy. In the story, Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to defile themselves of the royal food and wine apportioned to them so he requested the chief official to serve them instead “vegetables to eat and water to drink” (1:12). It even came as a challenge to the official who worried that such a request could cost him his head.

“I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you” (1:10).

Daniel answered: “Please test your servants for ten days…. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see” (verse 12 and 13).

The official agreed and at the end of ten days, “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who at the royal food” (verse 15). Daniel and his friends were given the courtesy to exercise their cultural and religious right. In the sixteenth verse of Daniel 1, after proving the astounding results of Daniel’s request, “the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.” Nebuchadnezzar marveled at the wisdom of these guys who were found peerless “in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them” (verses 19 and 20). “The king talked with them,” says the nineteenth verse; and in the twentieth, “he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” For this these four became the Fab Four, commanding the respect of their Babylonian masters from Day One. The honor and trust the Babylonians gave to the request of Daniel and his three friends later paved the way for a gradual measure of religious autonomy with the right to worship their God as indicated in Daniel 3:29 and 4:37.

©National Geographic Society/Corbis
Yet if there were some prophets paying attention to the trend of Israelite events at that period, they may have seen Daniel and his friends as a prefigure of what was to be handed down to the entire Israelite captivity in the years that came ahead: the chance to learn and enhance their lives so that their fortunes almost matched those of a privileged citizen of the Babylonian Empire.

In great humility but with an equal intensity of excitement born out of a love for learning, the Israelite entered the open doors of Babylonia’s libraries and unlocked a treasure trove of new manners, grace and refinement that changed him from Israelite to Jew. The Babylonian education worked for the new Israelite a distinct identity that the known world started to get acquainted with; at the same time it found him ways to worship his God without the need to exit captivity. Unlike in their days with Moses, there was no need for the Israelite of the Babylonian captivity to head on out to the wilderness to hold a feast for his God (Exodus 5:1), to serve (7:16), or to sacrifice (8:28). The people decided that the absence of the Temple did not mean they stopped worshipping God. They had to move on and formulate ways to humble themselves, seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways until He remembers them and brings them back to the land of His promise (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Picture courtesy of:

Among the first steps of repentance was to assess what they took for granted in the past and is now lost. In the days of kings Saul, David, and Solomon, they had a solid kingdom. Everything they needed was within a border of about the same size of present-day Israel and Jordan combined, about 47,000 square miles (118,900 square kilometers). The freedom to run around anywhere within this territory protected and unharassed was a privilege sanctioned by the kingdom. It is with this freedom God blessed His people with to worship Him and celebrate His goodness in feasts and sacrifices. From the time they had secured the Land of Promise from the Canaanites to the days of the kings, it was customary for the people of the land to flock to Jerusalem to celebrate major feasts like the Passover, Pentecost, and the Tabernacles. The farthest distance one traveled to Jerusalem was from the northernmost city of Dan, less than 120 miles (193 kilometers). A territory of their own was an entitlement that chiseled and enrooted the people’s identity. A land of their own meant a world of their own, a world that they could control, a world that had everything they needed within their reach. It was a world where every man could found a home where God could rain down His blessings in, and if some of these heavenly delights fell out of the bounds of his domicile, they would still be his for he knows that the blessings would have fallen within the borders of national territory. The land represented their freedom from bondage, their freedom to be a distinct people, their freedom to worship the Lord who delivered them from bondage, their freedom to control their destiny, their freedom to survive and rise above survival, their freedom to celebrate, their freedom to be who they wanted to be. But while God would continue to bless His people with everything they needed and wanted in Him, the time came when the people wanted in their land whatever the other lands had, primarily their gods.

Photo source:
It may have been comparatively small against the physical size of Babylonian Empire but it sure was easier traveling to Jerusalem and celebrating important feasts than being scattered in a foreign nation many times bigger than their Palestinian homeland.

With the entrance of foreign gods, corruption in the land became irreversible. Unfaithfulness to their God came very subtly then manifested full-blown only in a generation. The spiritual change of the Israelite people whether from faithfulness to backsliding or vice-versa manifested after an average of one generation. From the time they left Egyptian bondage, it took a long forty years, one generation, before the Israelites could possess the Promised Land (Numbers 14:28–35; 32:13). In the Second Chapter of Judges, “After [one] whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel…[and they]…did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals” (verse 10–11). A generation was also measured in the length of years a judge or king took charge in the land. In the Book of Judges, we find that as long as a hero lived the people were faithfully hemmed in on God’s Ways until he died. When no one took over the mantle of leadership immediately after the hero dies, the generation that followed was virtually doomed to idolatry and alien incursion, an entanglement of corruption of their own choice, just as their desert-wandering forefathers chose to cast and adore a golden calf in Moses’ prolonged absence in the community.

©Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis
Two hundred years of spiritually see-sawing between faithfulness and unfaithfulness in the Promised Land proved that the people God saved were not ready for a Theocracy; so when they asked for a king to rule over them (1 Samuel 8:5,6,19), which God knew they would demand beforehand (Deuteronomy 17:14–15), there were no angry buildup of dark clouds bursting with thunder and lightning and the sore roar of a furious God. In the Eighth Chapter of the First Book Samuel, God simply told His Prophet Samuel to “Listen to all that the people are saying…but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do” (8:7 and 9). Thus ended the Theocratic years of the Twelve Tribes. It was as if God, in a way, was withdrawing His Spirit all over again as He did in the time of Noah, when He said He would no longer “contend with man forever, for he is mortal” (Genesis 6:3). God by this time would hand His people to the one whom He would anoint, with the hope that one of flesh and blood possessing a stepped-down delegated authority from Above will lead a people rebellious and corrupt back to Him.

©Werner Forman/Corbis
The people proved faithful to their first king, though this first king proved unfaithful to his Anointer. The Israelite kingship went through a rough start with Saul, the firstborn of all the Israelite kings, falling into corruption. The real success was not realized until the rise of David who looked to God as the “Shepherd of Israel” (Psalm 80:1), from whom he also drew the inspiration for his leadership style. With the third king, Solomon, the kingdom reached a zenith of prosperity and spiritual devotion with the completion of the Temple of the Lord.

It can be said that the Temple symbolized the converging point of the feeling of permanence that both God and the Israelite nation have mutually desired. The very choice of word used in 2 Samuel 7:1, when the inspiration of the Temple came to David, reveals this:

“After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him…” (emphasis mine).

For the first time in more than four hundred years of being settled in the Promised Land, no one but King David ever dreamed of “sheltering” the Lord in a house of stone. As far as he was concerned, there was no logical point for God to live in a portable dwelling when the traveling days of the nation was long past. There was an uncomfortable feeling when David, walking atop his palace penthouse one day (as he always did) and probably beholding the Tabernacle canvas blowing in the afternoon gust. Very boldly but with all the sincerity in his heart, he finally catches the audience of the Prophet Nathan and  lets go a suggestion:

“Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent” (2 Samuel 7:2).

©Heritage Images/Corbis
Apparently, the Prophet Nathan, possibly a renegade thinker just like David, loved the idea. God likewise loved the idea and even allowed His king to detail the plans needed to accomplish His “house of cedar” (verse 7). But not one nail would be hammered under David’s rule in seeing his plans realized, for it was Solomon to see these plans lifted out of paper and physically established on Mount Moriah, the site David bought from Araunah the Jebusite (2 Chronicles 3:1). The Temple was largely made of timber from the cedar forests of Lebanon:

“So he (Solomon) built the temple and completed it, roofing it with beams and cedar planks. And he built the side rooms all along the temple. the height of each was five cubits, and they were attached to the temple by beams of cedar. He lined its interior walls with cedar boards, paneling them from the floor of the temple to the ceiling and covered the floor of the temple with planks of pine. He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen  (1 Kings 6:9–10,15–16,18, emphasis mine).

Though David’s plans included dressed stones carved out to secure the building’s foundation (1 Kings 5:15–17; 1 Chronicles 22:2), a large portion of the Temple structure was made out of wood overlaid with gold. What was the inspiration behind the major employment of wood? We may immediately understand gold, an element purified by fire, as symbolizing the Godhood of the Messiah or of Heaven itself; and wood, a material corrupted when incinerated, His human frame or of earth. For wood we can also grasp the type of death He would suffer—"Cursed" and "hung on a pole" (Galatians 3:13).  In almost the same way, the stones stand as an ever-present reminder of a certain end should a condition of faithfulness fails to be met by the very nation that built His Temple.

As we have studied in past articles, stone was believed to be a piece of the earth which may have been related to death and decay. From the Book of Genesis the ground represented the lowest point of a creature’s corruption:

To the serpent, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life” (3:14, emphasis mine).

To man, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return” (verses 17–19, emphasis mine).

Psalm 104:29 later reiterates the basic belief that “when you take away their breath, they die and return to dust.”

©Thom Lang/Corbis
When the ground was taken in its context of death, the Psalmists also drove their illustrations deeper into the bowels of the ground—as if the ground itself was not enough—and depicted the human flesh in its incorporated, horizontal, state with the earth:

“Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. The upright will rule over them in the morning; their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions” (Psalm 49:14, emphasis mine).  

When the piece of the earth is vertical, however, what was a symbol of death became a picture of hope. When man, for example, who is a piece of the earth, is upright, he represents resistance to death:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2).

©Lauree Feldman/Photolibrary/Gettyimages
When earth is gathered into an edifice—a wall or a building—just like with man, the element of life takes over death, although the idea of death and corruption pervades like an ever-present dark cloud in the horizon.

The edifice of a wall is a picture of supreme survival: it preserves the life within it while fending off the threat at the other side (Isaiah 26:1; 60:18). But that understanding of the wall is much too basic, a given. The aspect which makes walls a favored tool for survival is the prosperity it invites through the peace and protection it creates within its confines; references in the Scriptures suggest this:

“’Let us build up these towns,’ he (King Asa) said to Judah, ‘and put walls around them, with towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.’ So they built and prospered” (2 Chronicles 14:7).

“May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem” (Psalm 51:18).

“Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalm 122:7).

©Adam Burn/Gettyimages
When a people surround themselves with a wall, an identity gathers them into one being. In Isaiah 49:16, the very walls of Jerusalem remind God of His people:

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."

A people behind walls almost become a force to be reckoned with. In Deuteronomy 9:1, the walls were used as proof of a people’s greatness:

©Heritage Images/Corbis
“Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky.”

When the Israelite spies returned to camp in the Desert of Paran to report on their quest to explore the Promised Land, the disheartened majority made this statement:

“The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky” (Deuteronomy 1:28).

In fact, the phrase “him that pisseth against the wall” (1 Samuel 25:22, 34;1 Kings 14:10; 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8) very often used in the King James Version conveys the idea of one’s whole family. To an invading army, walls form a mystery of intimidation as it compels its contenders to consider a greater fighting force hidden behind it and waiting to spill out in counterattack. For this reason, those who launch an assault envision the walls torn down even before they begin their attack. The failure of a people’s survival is represented by broken walls—

“They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down” (Deuteronomy 28:52).

©Nathan Benn/Ottochrome/Corbis
Right after the city of Jericho fell into Israelite control, Joshua pronounced a solemn oath discouraging future generations from rebuilding the place: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates” (Joshua 6:26). The curse was an agreement with the primordial link between the stones, as representative of the earth, and decay; this concurrence of spiritual principles may have effected the power of Joshua’s words.  Around five hundred years later, "In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun" (1 Kings 16:34).

 The famous fall of the wall of Jericho remains the classic proof of the idea that a city’s sovereignty and survival is only as good as the walls that surround it—

“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city” (Joshua 6:20).

©Manuel Litran/Corbis
Grand infrastructures like walls and stone buildings emerge out of a people’s desire for permanence. They tie their lives to the territory they claim and establish marks of ownership in the land like memorial stones to celebrate events that must never be forgotten and even ideals forever to be upheld to supplement survival and mastery over the environment. The story of the Tower of Babel attests to this. In the beginning of account we find the basic phases of city building; first, they chose a land they liked:

“As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there” (Genesis 11:2).

Next, technology developed out of the people’s basic mastery of the environment:
“They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and tar instead of mortar’” (verse 3).

©Manuel Litran/Corbis
Then the people challenge themselves in founding a monument of their ideal to physically stand before them as their devotion compels them:

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth’” (verse 4).

We all know what happened next. In the eighth verse, it says that “they stopped building the city” because the Lord “came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building” (verse 5) to scatter them over the face of the whole earth (verse 9).

©Richard T. Nowitz/CORBIS
As for the people of Israel, their venture for their own mighty monuments came out of King David’s dream of building a Temple of the Lord; and it was his son Solomon who accomplished it in the eleventh year of his reign (1 Kings 6:38), four hundred and eighty years after the Israelites won their freedom of out Egyptian slavery (verse 1). In 586 B.C., the Babylonians descended upon Jerusalem, broke down its walls, torched the Temple into rubble, and deported the Israelites to Mesopotamia. Fifty years later, several waves of migration brought the Jews back into Palestine and under a Davidic prince named Zerubabbel rebuilt the Temple. Five hundred years later, however, the Messiah Jesus Christ was drawn to the “beautiful stones” (Luke 21:5) when He predicted the fall of Jerusalem in the hands of the Roman General Titus. This prophecy He pronounced right after the incident with the Temple moneychangers who were violently driven away by our rampaging Jesus when He saw how His Father’s “house of prayer” was transformed by the chief priests into “a den of robbers” (19:46).

©Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis
“Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, ‘As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down’” (20:5–6).

The Temple Solomon built became understood by the generation of its time as a signature of Divine approval, a stamp of permanence of their residence in the Promised Land. With Israel’s enemies trampled on all sides, its wealth overflowing (1 Kings 10:14–25,27,29), and the attention and awe it has been receiving from the world for the great wisdom of its king (verses 24 to 26), the fear of exile was reduced into a distant threat hidden in the haze blown by celebration and excitement of the Israelite Golden Age.

©Lebrecht Music & Arts/Corbis
But like the Golden Age of other lands, unfortunately, the Israelite reached its decline. As far as God was concerned, the Golden Age did not have to end; by abiding in Him, there is such a thing as being “changed…from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18, King James Version) even as He walks His children through the fires of time until the likeness of the Israelite earthly kingdom matches that of His in Heaven, where His will is enforced one hundred percent.

But alas, because of unfaithfulness to the commands of God, this kingdom splintered into two: ten tribes forming the Northern Kingdom of Israel while two uniting into the Southern Kingdom of Judah. While the latter generally adhered to the Mosaic Law, the first one deliberately erased everything Jehovah in its identity.

The Northern Kingdom kept its people away from Jerusalem by establishing its own religion that no longer required them to travel to the Holy City and celebrate certain feasts, like the Passover, Pentecost, and the Tabernacles. Before the split of the kingdom,  In 722 B.C., after two hundred years of political and religious independence wasted in apostasy and debauchery, God gave the Northern Israelites what they had always dreamed for: the greatest distance away from Jerusalem and a permanent pilgrimage to Mesopotamia, the cradle of the religion they adopted in place of the ways of the Lord. Now, they really did not need to visit Jerusalem—even when they wanted to!

In the Southern Kingdom of Judah, traveling to Jerusalem was not a problem; its farthest settlement was Beersheba, a scant 40 miles away from the Holy City. What God had against His faithfuls was a king named Manasseh who “shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end—besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:16). Although this reprobate came to God in repentance in his hour of greatest need, God still held the kingdom accountable for “the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood” which “the Lord was not willing to forgive” (24:3,4). In around 620 B.C., the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, along with Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite raiders descended upon Jerusalem and plundered its treasures, including the articles of the Lord’s Temple. “These things happened,” as said in 24:3, “according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done.”

Except for some intermittent periods of disobedience, which gradually gained frequency in the years of their final kings, the Israelites of the Southern Kingdom proved to have kept to the ways of the Lord longer than their backslidden brethren in the north. While the Northern Israelites either dispatched or deported the Lord’s prophets sent to them with messages of repentance and reconciliation, the Southern folk, in spite of their disobedience and obstinacy, went down with the words of the holy men of God ringing in their ears. It was thus easier for the exiles of Judah to recall and return to their old ways in that though they have lived the last three decades of their national life in idolatry and depravity, Throughout the story of the Israelites, the only difference that can be seen between the Northern and the Southern kingdoms was the chance for each to return to God in repentance.

©Werner Forman/Corbis
The Northern Israelite Kingdom, on the other hand, was established out of rebellion against God (1 Kings 12:28–33) and the insatiable vindictiveness toward the House of David (verses16–24, 26–27). Though the Israel of the north knew God, it never acknowledged Him in any more of its lifestyle; though its kingdom was rooted in a fierce resolve to eradicate Him from its conscience, God continued to reach down in mercy to deliver its people from the consequences of their hostility toward Him:

“The Lord had seen how bitterly everyone in Israel, whether slave or free, was suffering; there was no one to help them. And since the Lord had not said he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam son of Jehoash” (2 Kings 26–27).

©Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS
There was even a time when one of its Godless kings, Jehoahaz “sought the Lord’s favor, and the Lord listened to him, for he saw how severely the king of Aram was oppressing Israel” (2 Kings 13:4). During the time of Jehoahaz, around 820 B.C., the evil of his kingdom had reached up to heaven that “the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son” (verses 2 and 3). Fortunately for the people, Jehoahaz was someone whom his royal forefathers might have called a cultural and religious weakling, for he was not strong enough to hold on to the ideals of his nation—that it would stand up against the Lord no matter what the oppression or enticement He may bring upon them!—but reverted even just for a moment to the God of David for deliverance. And so: “The Lord provided a deliverer for Israel, and they escaped from the power of Aram. So the Israelites lived in their own homes as they had before” (verse 5). Needless to say, but we say it anyway, that after this, the Israelites “did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit; they continued in them” (verse 6).

©Alinari Archives/CORBIS
In its two hundred years of existence, the Northern Israelite Kingdom had proven, and paid with its life, that none of the greatness of civilization seen in the times of David and Solomon could have ever been achieved by any man apart from God. For two hundred years, its kings had tried to achieve the same greatness apart from the element of God. The kings of the Northern Kingdom disregarded the plain fact taught and sang by King David that it was God who “puts the nations under me” and “gives his king great victories” (2 Samuel 22:48,50). In David’s life there were so many things that he thanked God for, including victories in battle (2 Samuel 22:33,35,40) and God’s promise to make his name great and forever have a descendant of his seated on the throne (7:18–19). This was because David was a spiritual man ever in tune to the voice of God (Psalm 18:6; 29:9; 40:8; 61:2; 62:8; 95:7–8). The kings of Israel, on the other hand, have molted and regurgitated everything that would identify them with the very God who led their forefathers out of Egypt and performed all the miracles from the time of their desert wanderings right down to the time when God descended upon the Temple in Jerusalem during its dedication, but yet they still wanted the rewards of wealth, greatness, and prestige that David and Solomon were rewarded with—without the help of God. And they made a culture running after the blessings of obeying God without obeying God! They thought that if the pagan nations around them could rival what David and Solomon had in their lifetime, the Northern Israelite Kingdom could have the same with no Jehovah to hand them! What they never figured out was that the fortunes and destiny of a backslidden people are different from those of a nation He had never chosen from the start.

©Werner Forman/Corbis
When the Assyrian army descended upon the Northern Israelite Kingdom in 722 A.D., the people who were supposed to be a divine peculiar race was interspersed among other conquered exiles into an amalgam population that was then broken into small groups and then flung throughout the vast Assyrian Empire. With no unique culture, no distinct religion to set the  Israelites of the Ten Tribes apart from the other people—for the religion they adhered to was an adaptation of what the other fallen nations had—they were forced to mingle among, they forever disappeared through intermarriages and assimilation.

[Whoa! Carpal tunnel syndrome. Gotta go an crack some knuckles; but I'll be back, and so will you! You wanna stay tune when the Countdown continues. Hey, that almost sounds like Kasey Casem!]