Hoshea the son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. . . . Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. II Kings 17:1b, 3-6 ESV
Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it? Amos 5:18-20 ESV
Once there was a fox who swam across the river. It was a wide river with a strong current, and when he reached the other side, he was very tired. He lay down to rest on the other side of the river, and soon a bunch of mosquitoes settled on him and started to bite him and drink his blood, and the fox was too tired to brush them away with his tail. A kind hedgehog came by and offered to get rid of the mosquitoes for the fox, but the fox said, “No, leave them alone. They have drunk almost as much of my blood as they want. If you brush them away, new mosquitoes will come and bite me some more.” The fox was wise enough to understand that sometimes trying to get rid of a problem only makes things worse.
King Hoshea of the northern kingdom of Israel wasn’t as wise as this fox. He was conquered by the Assyrians and became their vassal. That meant he wasn’t the king of an independent country anymore, but instead he owed loyalty to the king of Assyria, and had to pay him a tribute every year. Hoshea didn’t like being a vassal to the Assyrians, and one year he didn’t pay his tribute. He tried to get the king of Egypt to help him so that he wouldn’t have to be a vassal to the Assyrians. This made the king of Assyria angry. He captured King Hoshea and put him in prison. He invaded and attacked Israel and fought them for three years. In the end, the Assyrians carried all the people of Israel away from their country and took them captive, and resettled them far away from home.
The Day of the Lord had come for the northern kingdom of Israel, and it was a dark day of trouble that got worse and worse. God had judged them for their sins and punished them. They were taken away from their homes and their country and the promised land where God’s presence was in a special way. Sin separates people from God and brings terrible trouble. If we try, all on our own, to get out of the trouble sin brings us, we only make things worse. The only way we can escape the effects of sin is to get help from God. God came to us in Jesus to take care of the problems we have because we turned away from God. Jesus died on the cross to defeat sin and death and all the powers of evil. Because of Jesus, we have been brought back to God, and he is with us to love us and help us, now and always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking away our sins and for bringing us back to God, our Heavenly Father. Amen.