siren July 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Isaiah 28:1-13; Hosea 5:8- 7:16; 2Kings 16:10-18; 2Chronicles 28:22-25; 2Kings 15:30-31; 2Kings 17:1-2 (see more for chronological note); Hosea 8:1- 9:17

Heed the Siren

Summer is not just a time for fun in the sun, picnics, lying on the beach, and vacations; it is also a time for severe weather as cold and warm fronts collide. We watch approaching storms outside and on the weather channel. The weather forecasters will sometimes tell us to be prepared to quickly take shelter, for there is a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or even a hurricane approaching. What is sometimes true physically is also true spiritually; there are approaching storms, and we must get ready immediately. We must heed the sirens.

At this time in our chronological Bible study the northern kingdom of Israel is facing an Assyrian invasion and Judah is threatened too.

Sound the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah. Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven; lead on, O Benjamin. Ephraim [a prominent tribe symbolic for the northern kingdom of Israel] will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain (Hosea 5:8-9, NIV).

Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle [a symbol of Assyria] is over the house of the LORD because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law. Israel cries out to me, “O our God, we acknowledge you!” But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him. (Hosea 8:1-3, NIV)

Israel was about to be conquered because she was very wicked. Besides the extreme wickedness of Israel, one of the things she did was particularly offensive to God.
When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help [during the Syro-Ephraimite War of 734 B.C.]. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores, (Hosea 5:13, NIV).

God was offended because Israel did not look to him for help but to godless, idol worshipping nations. Do we do the same things? Is God the first person we turn to when we are sick or in trouble, or the last person? Let us not offend God by relying on others to help us, instead of him.

In a demonstration of great strength, like a lion attacking, God would use Assyria to attack Israel and even destroy towns in Judah. While under siege from her enemies, Israel and Judah would repent, but their love for God would be short-lived.

“What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings,” (Hosea 6:4-6, NIV).

If God has been merciful to heal and forgive us, how long does our love last – till the pain or problem is gone? God wants us to need him every day of our lives. We need a strong personal relationship with him before a storm arrives. Instead of needing him, however, Israel was like a prostitute seizing any man and agreeing to any terms so that she could be protected and survive. She even gave him money and worshipped his gods.

In another symbolic illustration, God summarizes his offense:

“Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless-- now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria. When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them. Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine [celebrations of prosperity] but turn away from me. I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me. They do not turn to the Most High,” (Hosea 7:11-16a, NIV).

A lesson we might learn is this: Do not be deceived into taking shelter from those who seem powerful; take your shelter in God. God longed for Israel to return to him, to be restored and protected, but he was rejected.

About this time, King Ahaz of Judah was reigning. He was a wicked king. After being defeated by a coalition of Aramean and Israelite troops (the Syro-Ephraimite war), he sought the help of Assyria and paid him tribute money to remove the threat. However, though Assyria defeated the coalition, he did not give help to Ahaz but trouble. After further attacks from the Edomites and the Philistines because of his sin, Ahaz once again turned to Assyria for help. In desperation, he tried to do everything he could to please Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria. He even decided to have an Assyrian altar made for Israel's sacred ceremonies, hoping that Assyria's gods might help him have victory, too. Furthermore,

Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and took them away. He shut the doors of the LORD's temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger. (2Chronicles 28:24-25, NIV)

Here is another lesson for us: If we want protection from God, we should heed his warnings and not make him angry. There was still some time for Judah to repent, but Israel was now destined for certain destruction. There was no shelter for her because she abandoned the LORD her refuge. Many people do not know how close they are living to the day of disaster but the wise see the signs. Carelessness, complacency, evil, debauchery, casting off restraints, lies, self-deception, and denial are all symptoms of those on the precipice of spiritual disaster. If this describes you, beware! Hear and listen to the sirens in God's Word. Seek refuge in the LORD.

The northern kingdom of Israel during the long reign of Jeroboam II and the short reigns of Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea were in serious danger of losing their nation. They did not acknowledge the LORD or seek Him for advice on who should reign. Israel suffered many changes of administration because of the assassination of kings (many by their own progeny (2Kings 14,15) Spiritually, Israel claimed God in name only but then established their own altars of worship and sought the favor of false gods, mere sticks of wood and metals crafted with man's hands. “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind,” (Hosea 8:7, NIV). They sowed trouble for themselves by their wickedness and would soon reap a whirlwind of trouble from Assyria.

God said if Israel, “'Ephraim's glory will fly away like a bird-- no birth, no pregnancy, no conception. Even if they rear children, I will bereave them of every one. Woe to them when I turn away from them!'” (Hosea 9:11-12, NIV)

“Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal [a place of idolatrous worship], I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house [the land of Israel]. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious. Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.” My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him; they will be wanderers among the nations. (Hosea 9:15-17)

If we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness of our sins and spiritual life that lasts forever (more...). He is our glory and delight and a shelter in the time of storms. However, if we live wickedly and rebelliously that opportunity for glorious fellowship is taken away; he is not our shelter or our refuge, and we should expect his discipline. Which will it be for us, God's protection or his wrath? Heed the siren!

Lessons to live by:

•  Is God the first person we turn to when we are sick or in trouble, or the last person? Let us not offend God by relying on others to help us, instead of him.

•  God wants us to need him every day of our lives; we need to have a strong relationship with him before a storm arrives.

•  Do not be deceived into taking shelter from those who seem powerful; take your shelter in God.

•  If we want protection from God, we should heed his warnings and not make him angry.

•  Hear and listen to the sirens in God's Word. Make the LORD your refuge (more...)

Today's Bible memory verse:

Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (NIV) 

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