Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” Nevertheless, they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. (2 Kings 17:13-14)
They Would Not Hear
Israel had once been the most powerful nation on earth. God gave them victories by His hand and blessed them far above all peoples. His promises guaranteed the providence of the Heavenly would fall upon them without end if they would follow His will and obey His commands. The reigns of David and Solomon gave the nation glory but when Solomon died the nation deteriorated into the abject rebellion of lawlessness, immorality, and idolatry. Within two hundred years of the division of the nation, the ten tribes of northern Israel were carried captive to Assyria never to be heard from again. The two centuries of the northern kingdom’s existence were characterized by the most wicked and vile sins known to man as the people followed every pagan ritual and idol like the nations around them. They rejected the statutes of the word of God, desecrated the worship of the Lord, worshiped all the hosts of heaven and served Baal. They burned their children in human sacrifice, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying and sold themselves to do every evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. They were not unaccountable for their evil deeds as the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah by all of His prophets and seers. These men came among the people warning of the judgment of God, proclaiming the mercy of the Lord to those who would repent and proclaimed the way of righteousness but to no avail. Men like Ahijah the Shilonite, Jehu the son of Hanani, Elijah, Micaiah the son of Imlah, Elisha, Jonah the son of Amittai, Oded, Amos, and Hosea all tried to get the people to repent and their message fell on deaf ears. The chosen people of God mocked His messengers, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets. Finally, the longsuffering of the Lord ended and destruction came. But not without warning.
God never desired to punish His people in the manner that He did. The heart of the people had turned completely away from Him and He warned them time and time again to repent and they refused. He sent His prophets among the nation to warn them of the impending judgment against their rebellion because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. The voice of the prophets was heard throughout the land on a daily basis pleading with the chosen nation of the Lord God to return and the blessings of the Lord would return. In the face of all the prophets of God pleading with the nation, the people choose to remain in their sin and were destroyed. It is a tragic story of the grace of a loving father imploring his children to come home and serve him but the children refuse. Sin had so consumed their hearts the Israelite’s could only crave the immoral, depraved debauchery of idol worship as their god as Satan gave them the pleasures of the flesh. The words of the prophets fell on deaf ears. All the preaching that was done by the prophets was pointed to the sins of the people and the message of repentance that would save a few but the nation would be destroyed. If only they would keep the commandments of the Lord He would save them. When the hearts of the nation returned to the statutes of God they would find peace. Keeping the law of God gave the nation hope. The Lord sent His servants the prophets among them to turn their hearts back to Him. Nevertheless, they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. The sad tragedy of the demise of Israel was that it did not have to happen if they would have listened to the prophets.
The grace of God has always been given to men to know and understand His will. There has never been a time in the existence of the earth that man has not been accountable to the word of God. Like the final days of Israel, the Lord sent many men among the people to turn their hearts through the preaching of the gospel of salvation but the people would not listen. The prophets were only mouth-pieces of the Lord who proclaimed the message of salvation to a lost and dying world. Their words came from the will of the Lord and they spoke the words of the Lord as given to them by God. The problem was the heart of the people did not want to hear the gospel of salvation. Their lives were too consumed by the pleasures of the flesh, enjoyments of the world and pursuits of fame and fortune. Scoffing at the prophets, the nation continued to enjoy its pleasures of the world. They soon turned into the nations around them and went so far as to murder their children in human sacrifice – without guilt or remorse. When men stop listening to the word of God they will hear the voice of rebellion. The Lord sent His prophets but they would not hear. As they were being dragged away to Assyria in chains never to return, the hearts of the people finally realized all the words of the prophets were true. Now it was too late. Servants of the Lord preach the message of repentance, grace, love, judgment, and fidelity to Christ today; and like the nation of Israel can be ignored, rejected and laughed at while the hearts of the people frolic in the attractions of the world. The message remains unchanged. What happened to Israel will happen to those who turn away from the word of God. When a man preaches the word of God and the people refuse to listen they reject God, not the man. The Lord has sent messengers among the brethren to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and many refuse to listen, stiffening their necks and becoming more like the world around them. How sad about the tragic end of those who refuse to listen.