After the division of the nation, things went from bad to worse. In the Northern Kingdom, King Jeroboam made some terrible spiritual choices that had a long-lasting impact for evil. Read 1 Kings 12:26–31. What should this tell us about how immediate circumstances can so blind our judgment?
The king’s introduction of idolatrous worship helped set the nation on a disastrous course. “The apostasy introduced during Jeroboam’s reign became more and more marked, until finally it resulted in the utter ruin of the kingdom of Israel.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 107. In 722 b.c., Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, put an end to the country and deported its inhabitants to different parts of his empire (see 2 Kings 17:1–7). There was no turning back from this exile. For a time, Israel disappeared from history.
Things weren’t as bad in the Southern Kingdom, at least not yet. But they weren’t great either, and, as with the Northern Kingdom, the Lord sought to spare these people from the calamity that the Northern Kingdom faced, only now from the threat of the Babylonians. Unfortunately, with rare exceptions, Judah had a series of kings who continued to lead the nation into deeper apostasy. What do these verses say about the reign of some of Judah’s kings? 2 Chron. 33:9, 10, 21–23; 2 Kings 24:8, 9, 18, 19.
Despite all the terrible leadership, so many of the prophetic books of the Bible, including Jeremiah, are the words of the prophets whom God sent to His people in an attempt to turn them away from the sin and apostasy that was eating at the heart of the nation. The Lord was not going to give up on His people without giving them ample time and opportunity to turn from their evil ways and be spared the disaster that their sin would, inevitably, bring.
It’s so hard to step out of your own culture and environment and look at yourself objectively. In fact, it’s impossible. Why, then, must we constantly test our lives against the standard of the Bible? What other standard do we have?
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 2 – The Crisis (Within and Without)