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fireworks July 4 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Micah 1:1-8; 2Kings 17:3-23; 2Kings 18:7b-12; 2Kings 17:24-41; Isaiah 5:1-30; 2Kings 16:19-20; 2Chronicles 28:26-27; 2Kings 18:1-2; 2Chronicles 29:1; 1Chronicles 4:34-43

Keeping Freedom

Today is Independence Day in America. Like many nations around the world we have many fireworks displays. For America, this celebration is the annual remembrance of the day when fifty-six men, representing thirteen colonies of the United States, signed a document declaring our freedom from the tyrannical rule of the king of Great Britain and began to form our own government by the people and for the people. As the reader may know, most of the early Americans came to the new world for religious freedom, and we based our laws upon the Bible. We had a good foundation and have enjoyed liberty for more than 240 years. How do people and nations keep their liberty?

In today's chronological Bible reading the northern kingdom of Israel loses her liberty. She is judged by God. The verdict is read: Guilty! The sentence is carried out: she is captured, her cities are plundered, and she is carried away into exile. Judah, her sister nation is next if she does not mend her ways.

Why was Israel exiled? The charges against Israel can be read in today's Bible reading, (2Kings 17:7-23, 34-40), but basically these are the reasons:

•  God said Israel was not to worship anyone or anything besides Him. Israel did not completely drive out the wicked nations they conquered in Joshua's day. Instead, they became imitators of them and surrounding nations and worshipped their idols. God considers idolatry to be like an unfaithful wife prostituting herself before her lovers. This Israel did constantly and unashamedly.

•  Israel forsook the law of the LORD. No longer was it read, and they cast out the priests, whose duty was to instruct the people in the ways of the LORD. They instituted their own priests and worshipped idols. This was the sin of Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom of Israel.

•  Israel was more evil than the nations the LORD had driven out of Canaan, the Promised Land. Though God sent many prophets to warn them of judgment and to admonish them to repent, they would not listen at all but persisted in their evil deeds. God's patience with Israel and Judah lasted almost 700 years from the time of the Exodus from Egypt, but finally God had enough of their wickedness. Israel would be judged now, and Judah would be given 136 more years of grace before she, too, would be exiled from the land by her captors.

Israel was a theocratic nation, i.e., she was governed by God. He gave them prophets, priests, and kings, but the priests, kings, and all but a few prophets were unfaithful. They led their nation into great and grievous sins, even worse than the Canaanite people they had dispossessed. Our nation is not a theocratic nation, but the writer of Psalm 144:15 declares: “Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD,” (NIV). Are we guilty of great and grievous sins? How long will God allow us to keep our freedom? We don't know and we should not test God's patience. In fear of God's judgment, we should repent! God offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

God had looked after Israel like a vine dresser looks after his orchard, but Israel never produced any good fruit. God decided to destroy the vineyard and leave the land for others to inhabit. That happened when Assyria invaded the land in 725 B.C.. For three years Shalmaneser V, king of Assyria, lade siege to the city of Samaria until she wasted away for lack of food and strength. Assyria conquered Israel, plundered her, took exiles to towns in Assyria, and replaced Israelites with other people. Because they polluted Samaria (Palestine) with their idolatrous practices, however, God sent lions to attack the new residents. Then, the king of Assyria took a Jewish priest from exile to teach the people in the land how to worship God so that his anger would be appeased. However, they also continued worshipping their own gods. Now strangers were living in their Jewish homeland and intermarrying with a few poor Jewish people left in Israel. Later in Jewish history this would make the Samaritans (Jewish-Gentile half breeds) a despised people.

What price will sin extract from us? Those who persist in their sins may prosper for a while but for how long? Will they lose their home, property, possessions, or country? Will others occupy their place or their nation?

The nation of Judah remained. She observed God's judgment against Israel, and her sister nation being taken away by her captors. This should have caused her to fear the LORD and live righteously, which she did for a little while under the new king, Hezekiah. What about us? When we see others suffer judgment for their sins, do we seek to mend our own ways, or do we go on sinning, thinking judgment will not come upon us? Let us turn from our sins and be obedient to God, and let us keep teaching the truth of his word; that gives our nation and our people the best chance to keep our liberty.

Lessons to live by:

•  Truth and freedom for the soul are found in Jesus Christ (John 8:31-36)
•  Sin may take away our liberties.

•  If you are guilty of unrepentant sin, fear the LORD. Call out to him in repentance and faith while there is still time. “Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation,” (2Corinthians 6:2, NIV). (more…).

• We must obey the LORD by keeping his Word. This will help us keep our freedom.

Today's Bible memory verse:

Romans 6:22 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (NIV)

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