So these nations feared the Lord, yet served their carved images; also their children and their children’s children have continued doing as their fathers did, even to this day. (2 Kings 17:41)
Three Generations Of Apostasy
Assyria was one of the great empires of ancient history used by God to bring judgment upon His own people the Hebrews. Two hundred years after the death of Solomon and the division of the nation, the ten northern tribes of Israel were carried to Assyria. The rebellion of the northern tribes was complete with an unwillingness to serve the Lord in any fashion rejecting the pleas of the prophets to repent and turn to the Lord. All of the kings of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord provoking Him to anger. They built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city. Sacred pillars and wooden images filled the land and they burned incense on all the high places like the nations around them. They rejected the statutes and covenant of God and followed idols and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and daughters to be burned as offerings to the gods, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger. When the Assyrians came into the land the people of God were unrepentant. They feared the Lord but served their own gods. After Assyria settled its own people in the land a mixed religion of paganism and worship of the one true God developed that would become known as the religion of the Samaritans. By the time of Jesus Samaria was entrenched with the mixed religion of the nations around them and diluted belief in Jehovah God. Each generation believed the lie of the previous generation creating a lineage of ungodliness, wickedness and pagan worship of the one true God. The fathers taught the children and the grandchildren learned the vices of the previous generation and a legacy of rebellion was firmly established in Samaria. Generational ungodliness became the norm and it all came from the family.
It is difficult to imagine how the holy people of God became so wicked and so defiled in the religion of idolatry. Israel was the apple of God’s eye and a holy nation devoted to a righteous covenant promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord had shown His love to the people for more than seven hundred years but they would not listen. When the northern tribes rebelled against Judah and Benjamin and became the Israel of the north, the kingdom never saw rest as every king did evil in the sight of the Lord. Kings like Ahab ruled with Jezebel by his side as the people of God fell deeper and deeper into sin and unrighteousness like the nations around them. There were few bright spots in the legacy of the north as found in the maiden taken by the Syrian commander, Naaman, during the reign of Ahab. She believed in the power of God to do the impossible when she told her mistress a prophet in Israel could heal her husband of leprosy. Somewhere in the land of idolatry, a family was teaching their daughter to trust in the power of God. But this was the exception. The people served their carved images and the children and the grandchildren were learning the craft of idolatry like their fathers before them. Three generations of apostates setting the course of the northern tribes of Israel to be destroyed by the wrath of God.
No nation is destroyed as a nation but when the family dies the nation dies. Israel was destroyed not because the nation of Israel had become evil. The destruction of the nation originated in the heart of the home where God was supposed to reign supreme and His word the center of the home. Every nation that has fallen over time began in the little cottage in the glen or the wealthy home of the city where the desires of the world and the carnal pleasures of life filled the hearts and minds of the family. When children are taught to love the world more than God the home begins to die. Israel had every reason to find its worth in the blessings of the providential care of God but they began slowly to turn their eyes toward the nations around them. Worship to the Lord was replaced with the frivolity and pleasures of the world that appealed to their carnal minds. They would still make their offerings to the Lord but their hearts were far from God. Many generations removed from the days of Israel in Canaan, the church is slowly dying in many places because of the same generational apostasy. Parents are teaching their children their self-worth is being popular with the other kids and having successful jobs where they can live in nice homes and drive new cars. Friends must come from influential and important families. Acceptance is the most important part of the child’s life as they mold their character to be like their friends. The Bible is never opened and prayers are non-existent. Parents fuss and fight with one another as they work long hours, live for recreation, give their children everything but God. Each generation teaches the next generation to trust in idols and the church dies. The spirit of Samaria is strong where people fear the Lord yet serve their own gods and the cycle repeats itself time and again.
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,”