Friday, July 13, 2012


In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah and by the Habor, Gozan's river, and in the cities of the Medes.  [This disaster] happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they had worshiped other gods.” (2 Kings 17:6-7 HCSB)

Perhaps you have watched them on TV—CSI, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami—they have been popular programs.  In fact, CSI is the most watched television program in the world.  For the few who are clueless, it stands for Crime Scene Investigation—and focuses on investigators using cutting edge forensics to solve crimes. 

Today, we are going to investigate a real crime scene.  This crime took place centuries before the birth of Christ, yet the evidence of the horrible act will not require advanced technology and years of training—just one tool—a Bible.

The crime scene is ancient Samaria.  If you go there today, you will find a high hilltop, empty of residents, devoid of anything but a few ruins—a barren spot where a once thriving city stood.  It was a place of commerce, a place where soldiers stood guard on massive walls, a place where families were raised, a place where kings governed—all that you would expect from an urban capital like Washington, Paris, London or Moscow.  But, today there is only silence.   That city is dead.

It is a crime scene.

The crimes were committed against God.  The laws that were broken were His.  The conquest of the city and the captivity of her citizens were due to God’s judgment on their wicked conduct.

Although the Assyrians besieged and at last conquered Israel and its capital, Samaria, they were only the sword God wielded in His hand.  In another sense, however, the Israelis committed suicide.  God would have been their friend, rather than their foe, had they yielded to His will. None could have overcome them, for the Lord would have protected them rather than punish them, had the people been obedient.

They were given ample warning and abundant occasion to repent, but they persisted in their death march and would not turn back and live.

“Still, the Lord warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commands and statutes according to all the law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through My servants the prophets.’  But they would not listen. Instead they became obstinate like their ancestors who did not believe the Lord their God.”  (2 Kings 17:13-14 HCSB)

As we investigate, and excavate the remains of that once bustling metropolis, we see the death was self-inflicted—and needless.  They first rejected the Lord, and then He rejected them.

They rejected His statutes and His covenant He had made with their ancestors and the decrees He had given them. They pursued worthless idols and became worthless themselves, following the surrounding nations the Lord had commanded them not to imitate. They abandoned all the commands of the Lord their God. They made cast images for themselves, two calves, and an Asherah pole. They worshiped the whole heavenly host and served Baal.  They made their sons and daughters pass through the fire and practiced divination and interpreted omens. They devoted themselves to do what was evil in the Lord's sight and provoked Him.  Therefore, the Lord was very angry with Israel, and He removed them from His presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained.   Even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God but lived according to the customs Israel had introduced. So the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and handed them over to plunderers until He had banished them from His presence.” (2 Kings 17:15-20 HCSB)

We do not look at this crime scene merely to satisfy some morbid curiosity.  God has placed this story in the Word of God as a warning for our nation—for all nations.  The Scripture is clear, “The wicked will return to Sheol—all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17 HCSB).  Sheol is the Hebrew word for the realm of the dead.  Nations are born—they have a lifespan—and they die. 

America will be no different.  If we keep walking in our ungodly ways, God’s wrath will be our destination.  The decline has become precipitous, our place precarious.  It seems that we are a nation besieged—failing leadership, faltering economy, feeble churches, while our enemies circle above like vultures, ready to pick the carcass clean when we exhale our last breath.

But, we are not quite there—not yet.  There is time for repentance.  Another warning is going out today.  God is permitting me, His servant, to confront the nation for our sinfulness and summon us to seek the Lord, while He may be found.  Far from the only voice, there are still numerous preachers and people of God, who are faithful to intercede in prayer and intervene in the lives of those running rough-shod toward hell.

Will we be obedient or obstinate?  We don’t want CSI: Samaria to become CSI: America.

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