After rejecting His steadfast love through repeated unfaithfulness, Israel has pushed God’s patience to breaking point. They’ve broken His heart. God is against Israel now…and He’s coming in judgement. Israel is unfit for God’s presence.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel has adopted the false religion of the surrounding nations of Canaan. In particular, they have incorporated Baal worship into the everyday life of the nation. Instead of following the first command – “You shall have no other gods but me” (Ex. 20), Israel has been unfaithful to the agreement (covenant) they made with the LORD. (“I will be your God. You will be my people.”)
Instead of loving the God who saved them from slavery in Egypt, instead of loving the God who gave them the Promised Land as a gift and protected them from their enemies…Israel’s heart has turned cold towards the LORD.
They still worship Him, offering regular sacrifices as prescribed in the Law…but they have no love for the LORD. Their loveless religious sacrifices are an insult, making a mockery of the LORD’s loving care and provision. What’s more, through their wicked behaviour (e.g. temple prostitution and child sacrifice!), Israel demonstrates that they have lost all knowledge of the LORD.
Consequently, the LORD withdraws from His people. And, as promised in their special agreement (covenant), the LORD is coming in judgement now to bring upon Israel the covenant curses. In just a few short years, Assyria will wipe Israel from the map – never to return.
The only bright spot this otherwise disastrous episode is the LORD’s promise (vs 15) to return to His place. This will happen sometime in the future…as the LORD waits for His people to admit their guilt and seek His forgiveness.
Will anyone return to Him? Will we…in humble repentance?