And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. II Kings 17:7-18 ESV
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes
and were brought low through their iniquity. Psalm 106:40-43 ESV
Long ago, in an area that is now Pakistan and northern India, there was a great civilization known as the Indus Valley Civilization. It had beautiful cities with excellent water supply and drainage systems. The people traded with other cultures and had good transportation with wheeled carts and flat-bottomed boats. They grew wheat and barley and had a system of canals and also of irrigation. They were a great civilization for a long time, but after awhile they declined and disappeared. Historians aren’t sure why this happened, but they have some theories. Some historians think a tribe of people called the Aryans conquered them. Others think that their river, the Saraswati River, slowly dried up, but then others think there were terrible floods. There’s evidence that some people died of malaria. Some historians think that the monsoons the people depended on for agriculture moved east and left them with failing crops. We may never know for sure.
When the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians, the Bible tells us exactly why it happened. Historians might tell us about the powerful Assyrian empire that conquered many people, not just Israel. They might talk about the important place the land of Israel was and how much all the powerful empires wanted to control that land. God can work through circumstances like these, and he is also able to work out his purposes against the circumstances of history. God let his people Israel be taken into captivity as a judgment against them for their sins. They worshiped false gods and goddesses and didn’t follow his laws and didn’t listen to all the warnings the prophets gave them. They lived as if they didn’t want to be God’s people, and in the end God removed them from the promised land.
We can’t always know why things in history and in our own time happen the way they do, but we can be sure that God is in control and that he always works out his purposes through history. He promises to be with his people and to take care of them no matter what happens through the years and the centuries. God worked through history to bring about his greatest plan of all. God sent Jesus, our Savior, into our world at the right time in history so that we could be brought back to God and become his people. Because of what Jesus did for us, we are God’s children, and he will never leave us, no matter what happens in this world.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working out your purposes in history, and especially for sending us Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.