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(2 Kings 17) Obituary of a Nation

(2 Kings 17) Obituary of a Nation

by Stephen Davey Ref: 2 Kings 17

How is the church supposed to impact the world? Are we called to redeem our culture? What about political action? Are we birthing a 'Christian' country or are we writing the obituary of a Nation? Today's study reveals some striking similarities between the fall of Israel and the fall of America.


“Obituary of a Nation”

(2 Kings 17)

I’m glad to return to you this week - since my family and I went to Lynchburg Virginia, where I spoke to the student body at Liberty, we decided to stay over and travel a little further north and visit the home of Thomas Jefferson.   His plantation is called Monticello, Italian for “Little mountain” - it was beautiful.  If you’ve traveled Williamsburg, one of the frustrations is knowing that 95% of everything there is imitation replicas.  However, at Monticello, 95% of it is original - his furniture, several of his books, his clocks, even the antlers and maps on the wall of his foyer.  The doors that led into his parlor were original and the doors glass panes were the same ones that he looked through as his guests would arrive - you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. 

Of the many quotes I read, from this man who authored our declaration of independence - one of the quotes that struck me was this, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

If Jefferson were trembling then - he’d be shaking uncontrollably today.

How prophetic were his fears - for whether or not we want to admit it, whether or not we are conscious of it - the slumbering justice of God is awakening.

And how far America has fallen.

And we are beginning to discover the truth that America is not big enough to shake her fist in the face of a Holy God and get away with it.

Neither was Israel - the patience of God has lasted for centuries - we will observe in chapter 17 the the last King of Israel - and the last rebellion of Israel.

Would you take your Bibles and turn to 2 Kings chapter 17.  We’re introduced to a man who wasn’t so bad a king - trouble was, he wasn’t so good either.

v. 1.  In the 12th year of Ahaz king of Judah...........

The Final King of a Fallen Nation:

            Hosea, the “not-so-bad-King”

hinge verse - purpose statement - verse 7!

The Final Acts of a Fallen Nation:

1st - they acknowledged the existence of other gods (v. 7)

2nd - they acclimated to the lifestyle of unbelievers around them (v. 8)

3rd - they attempted to keep their sins secret  (v. 9a)

4th - they adopted the idolatrous practices of unbelievers (vv 9b-11; 16-17)

5th - they abandoned the prophets and writings of scripture

Notice v. 12-15a. 

Today our own Supreme court has struck down a Kentucky law that required the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms.  The Court said that the Ten Commandments were “Plainly religious, and may induce children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and to obey the commandments.”

What’s ironic is that behind the chief justice of the Supreme Court hangs a copy of the Ten Commandments.

Listen to some of the engravings that adorn the buildings of our nations capital - engraved on the metal cap on the top of the Washington Monument are the words; “Praise be to God.”   Lining the walls of the stairwell are such biblical phrases as “Search the Scriptures.”  The words, “In God we trust” are inscribed in the marble behind the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The founding fathers of our nation created institutions of higher learning so that they would not, “leave an illiterate ministry to the churches”.

Listen to Harvard Universities 1646 “rules and Precepts”

1- Every one shall consider the main end of his life and studies to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.

2 - Seeing the Lord giveth wisdom, every one shall seriously be in secret prayer, seeking wisdom of Him.

3 - Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that they be ready to give an account, among other things, to its practical and spiritual truths.

Imagine that the University of Pennsylvania got it’s first building when Benjamin Franklin decided to erect a building to accommodate the great crowds that wanted to hear George Whitefield preach.  That building became the first building on the Universities campus, and to this day, a statute of George Whitefield, the fiery preacher is prominently displayed on the campus.

Our nation once venerated the writings of scripture and the preaching of it’s prophets - today, the nation as a whole has set both aside!


  • they achieved the end result of rebellion            (vv. 15b-18)

                        middle of v. 15 “they followed vanity and became vain!”

                        18.  So the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed                               them from his sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.

  • they attempted a pluralistic solution to appease Yahweh   (vv. 24-41)

Let’s get someone in here to tell us about the God of Israel - let’s add religion to our pursuit of other gods.

So they brought in a priest from Bethel - which was the capital of calf worship - the Israelites had long since worshipped God at Bethel through golden calves, erected after the fashion of idolaters to represent their deity.

So, in reality, this priest did nothing more than add a watered down, corrupted form of ritualistic religion that did no one any harm, but no one any good.

It was the religion of profession, but not the religion of practice.

That is lip service from a nation who is trusting in everything else but God.

I have in my library the works of Charles Spurgeon and Alexander Mclaren were pastoring in London during the same time.  In fact, I pulled their books off my shelf and read their own sermons from this text - they preached with passion and made direct applications to their own culture.  Their churches impacted nearly 20,000 people weekly.  Today, London echoes with the emptiness of ritual and liturgy and vain religion.

Have you ever marveled how few churches in this county are known for clearly preaching and teaching the word of God?!  Did you struggle to find a church that seemed alive - that honored the Bible? Instead of a hundred choices, you had a handful.  It’s happening here too.

And our city is not unique.  In America, in 1900 there was one church for every 12,000 people.  Today there is one church for every 27,000 people. 

The echo of empty religion is becoming more apparent all the time.

APPLICATION:  Lessons From the Fall of Israel

While the success of a nation depends upon it’s adherence to scripture - the success of a church does not depend upon its nation.

Don’t attach the future of the church to the future of any nation.  You listen to some preachers and you get the idea that at the collapse of America, the rapture will occur. . .if America goes down the tubes - what else can God do?  Now if I’m sounding unpatriotic, you’re misunderstanding.  I love America - in the past year, I’ve taken my family to Williamsburg and Jamestown - and Monticello.

But I do not believe that the hope of the church rests on the honor of America. 

This may shock some of you, but God’s plans for the church today are not riding on the upcoming elections. . . God is not in heaven right now hoping for a Republican majority. 

If that bothers you and you want to write me a letter - that’s fine - write - address your letters to Pastor Tim Cox.

Believe it or not, the success of  God’s church is not even handicapped by the decisions of our supreme court - when prayers were ushered out of the public schools of America - while it did reveal the character of our nation and while it did put another nail in the coffin of our country - it didn’t send the Trinity into panic mode - nor should the church. 

Christ Himself said, “I will build my church and gates of Hell will not overcome it.”

The truth is, according to I Peter 2:9, God has created a new nation - a new race of believers who comprise the church - so that we should show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 

And he has placed us inside the borders of this nation - to pray for it, to shine in it, to preserve it as salt preserves from decay and destruction.

The mission of the church remains the same whether its nation is godly or ungodly.

Jesus Christ challenged his disciples with their commission - to go and make disciples of all nations.  To do what?  To win and train people one at a time in the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Popular authors, pastors and radio talk show hosts today give the incorrect impression that since America is decidedly post-Christian, our mission is to change - you get this alarming attitude that says, “We’ve got to do something.”  The truth is, we do have to do something.

The Apostle Paul lived in a day when Rome was decaying - homosexuality was rampant; one Romans writer said that to be considered anything other than bisexual was to be a bore or a prude.  Divorce was so rampant that Seneca wrote, “Roman women number the years with the names of their husbands.”  That’s incredible when you consider the fact that for the first 500 years of the Roman empire, there wasn’t one recorded case of divorce - until 234 B.C.  Furthermore, by the time of the Apostle Paul, a Roman parent had the right to kill their newborn if the child was deformed or even other reasons - READ CHRISTIAN HISTORY

            A letter from Hilarion to his wife Alis, “Very many greetings.  Know that we are still in Alexandria.  Do not be anxious; if they really go home, I will remain in Alexandria.  I beg and entreat you, take care of the little one, and as soon as we receive our pay, I will sent it up to you.  If by chance you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it live, if it is a girl, cast it out.

What were those Roman Christians told to do?  Well for one thing, consider what they weren’t told to do:   Read the book of Romans - God’s epistle to the Christians living in Rome - and you will discover that the Apostle Paul never challenged the Christians to reform Rome.  He never said to the Christians living in Jerusalem, “What we need is a conservative Sanhedrin.”  Jesus never warned the early church, “If Rome collapses, the church is finished.”

He simply said, through his servant Paul, in the epistle to the Roman Christians, ungodliness will not go unjudged - an individual or a nation who takes certain steps, such as the ones listed in Romans chapter one, that individual, yes, that nation will experience the wrath of God.

A nation cannot rise from ungodly character unless there is revival in the church’s character and purpose.

While the church does not depend upon its nation for survival, the nation depends upon the church for survival.

Without the light of the gospel, no nation or culture can do anything but progress in its unbelief and superstition.

What’s God’s plan for America - what’s God’s solution - has it ever occurred to you that YOU are His plan in this nation - YOU are His solution.

Stop pining for the good old-days - according to the history I’ve read - they weren’t all that good - we don’t need a return - we need a revival.  And I’m using that word in it’s correct sense.  A revival has nothing to do with an unbeliever - according to Ephesians an unbeliever is spiritually dead - you can’t revive a corpse - you revive someone who’s already alive - they’re just sleeping - they’re inactive - they’re lethargic

My concern this morning, that comes from this chapter in Israel’s history is not with the unbelieving world - Assyrians do what Assyrians do - Romans do what Romans do - my concern is with the sleeping church. 

The church, who like Israel, refuses to hear its prophets - refuses to honor the Word - who melts into the liquid of its society - whose voice is no longer distinguished by the truth - is selling itself .

Listen as a voice from history speaks:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth and power.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient, too proud to pray to the God that made us!  It behooves us, then to humble ourselves, to confess our national sins, and to pray for forgiveness.

            These words were spoken on April 30, 1863 by Abraham Lincoln

We have read this morning the obituary of a nation - the rise and fall of Israel.  It is my estimation and belief, that the obituary of our nation has already gone to press.  The next generations to come will feel the full impact of a spiritual famine.

You’re probably asking, what good can I, one person, do to rescue this decaying, spiritually famine stricken nation.  What can we, one church do to change our world.

Two Reminders:

1)  Remember, God has not commanded you to reform your culture.  (He taught us to expect the worst from our culture - in fact, Paul wrote to his young pastor friend Timothy and said, in 2 Timothy 3:13, “Timothy, evil men will grow worse and worse.” 

Let’s put it this way - A lighthouse never once got rid of a storm - in fact the reason it was built was because of the darkness - it’s very existence presupposed the presence of storms.  The gospel will reform our culture;  but we are simply commanded to share it.

2)  Remember, God has commanded you to reach one person at a time.

Matthew 28 is not a suggestion - it is a command, where Jesus Christ told them and us to go and make disciples.

This past week I heard about one of our church members - she worked next to an unbeliever in the office - over a process of time, this unbeliever finally came to her and asked her, what it was about her that made such a difference in her life - after an hour of sharing the gospel - this co-worker accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior.

What difference can you make?

You’ve probably heard the story of the young man who was walking along the beach at dawn, he noticed an old man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them back into the ocean.  Catching up with the man, the young man asked what he was doing.  The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left under the morning sun.  “But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish. . .how can you make any difference?”  The old man looked at the starfish in his hand and quietly said, “I make a difference to this one.”  And he threw it to the safety of the ocean waves.

What difference are you making?


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