Most Christians have heard of the Babylonian Exile of the Israelites. We are familiar with the story of Daniel, and have heard about the Babylonian king named Nebuchadnezzar. But what about the Assyrian Exile? Why is it that Christians do not even have a clue about this event?
Don’t believe me? Let’s turn to history. The National Geographic Society has published a book called “Essential Visual History of the World” which contains a very concise history of all the major civilizations and kingdoms of the earth. In this book, you find empires such as Egypt, Syria, Persia, India, China right upto Greece, Rome and even into modern history of the great World Wars. The interesting pages that caught my eye, was the ones that mentioned “the Israelites”. In page 42 & 43 of the book (pictured below), it clearly mentions the division of the Kingdom into North & South and of its fall into Assyria and Babylon respectively.
If you were like me, you would be scratching your head thinking where an Exile to Assyria is even mentioned in the Scriptures? The reason we do not know about this event is because very rarely do Christians read the lengthy, name heavy, books of Kings & Chronicles.
For a thorough examination of the Divided Kingdom of Israel, and how it effects our understanding of God’s Word, read the following posts;
Parable of the Prodigal Son and the 2 Houses of Israel
The Betrothal, Divorce and Re-Betrothal of God’s people, through Messiah
Here is a very brief look at what happened to Israel after the reign of King Solomon
1. After David, Solomon was anointed King and when Solomon was old, his many wives made him sin against God (1Kin 11:4-7).
2. As punishment, Solomon’s servant Jeroboam received 10 tribes to rule over, and the rest were ruled by Solomon’s son, Rehoboam (1Kin 11:30,31/ 1Kin 12:16,17).
3. Rehoboam ruled over the Tribe of Judah & Benjamin, collectively called the “House of Judah” (1Kin 12:23).
4. From this point onwards in the Books of 1st & 2nd Kings, Jeroboam and his Sons ruled over what was called “The House of Israel” in the north of the land while Rehoboam and his Sons ruled over what was called “The House of Judah” in the south of the land.
5. After much rebellion against God, and not giving ear to the Prophets, The House of Israel was taken captive to Assyria(2Kin 17:6,18,23).
6. The Majority of them were scattered among the nations(Hos 8:8, Jer 31:10).
7. Even though, The House of Judah, was much better than The House of Israel, they also disobeyed God and was taken captive to Babylon(Dan 1:1,2).
8. God let Judah return back to their land after 70 yrs in exile(Jer 29:10, Ezr 2:1, Neh 7:6).
The divided Kingdom of Israel, was known as the “House of Israel” & the “House of Judah” from the time after the death of King Solomon. The New Covenant was made exclusively with these two divided houses/kingdoms as we can see below.
Jer 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Heb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
The Scriptures do not speak of a New Covenant made with any other nation. Christ himself said “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat 15:24). This was the same Good News prophesied by Ezekiel when he spoke of a day when the 2 kingdoms would be united under one shepherd.
Eze 37:16-24 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.
This is the same mystery that Paul spoke of, when he explained that all believers are grafted into the Olive tree, which is God’s people “Israel” in Romans Chapter 11. (Compare Rom 11:19 and Jer 11:16). All of prophecy in the Scriptures hang on the simple fact of the division, dispersion and regathering of His people under Christ our Shepherd. How can we understand any of these complex ideas given to us in Scripture, if we do not understand the basics that even History proclaims to be true?
My prayer for each of you who have not heard of this part of history, is that you would search the Scriptures and read for yourself, so you would be able to better understand everything written by the Prophets as well as the New Testament writers such as Paul, bringing you to a closer walk with our Heavenly Father.