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The tribes making up Israel, twelve, had a history of getting on the wrong side of God! Their propensity to sin offers us a chance to see exactly how God holds nations accountable and to see God’s threshold of patience for sinful behavior. Ten of the northern tribes separated from the Kingdom of Judah and set up their own kingdom in about the 10th century BC.

Less than 2 centuries later they were exiled and punished by God. Today, these tribes are non-existent. The Ten Tribes had become nothing more than a group of barbaric gentiles. Rather than changing the world, they managed to drag the rest of the world down with them. It is important to understand that God had assigned to the tribes of Israel, the task of maintaining the knowledge of who God was and spreading the knowledge throughout the world. The breakup for the tribes was over who was to become their king. It was all about politics! Two of the tribes, Judah, and Benjamin, did not agree with the proposed king of Israel being Rehoboam. As a result, those two tribes gave up their inheritance (lands) given to the tribes by God and became the southern Kingdom of Judah. The northern 10 tribes remained as one group and kept the name of Israel.

Problems for Israel, the northern nation, began when King David ruled the land. It all started when he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, before killing him. In 2 Samuel 12:10, God told David that the sword wasn’t going to depart from his house because of this sin. Even though the punishments by God were carried out during David’s reign. Solomon, David’s son, and his grandson Rehoboam experienced problems as well. All three rulers were indirectly responsible for the division that was to come upon the tribes of Israel.

Throughout the Old Testament, these two nations fought with one another. Each became strong and independent and created two distinct lineages of people in history. Each nation had its kings and even its prophets. History documents that both Israel and Judah eventually fell into captivity (slavery). God sent the Babylonians to capture the House of Judah, and He sent the Assyrians to conquer the House of Israel. The Babylonian captivity of Judah lasted for 70 years. Assyria did the same for Israel. However, Israel never fully came out of the Assyrian captivity. The Exile of the Israelites is described in (1 Chronicles 5:26, 2 Kings 15:29, 17:3-6, 23, 18:11-12).

What were their specific sins?

The theme of sinful and selfish leadership is woven throughout world history. Of the many sins to list, the one that comes to mind first is that the kings of both Israel and Judah led their people away from God.  Remember, the covenant given to kings (leaders) by God was to lead their people to Him!

When a nation’s wealth becomes nothing more than the purse for its leaders, God considers that sin. In Judah’s case, there was an argument over the wealth that was due to the priests maintaining the temples for religious teaching.

(2 Kings 12:16)1NIV New International Version Translations – “The money from the guilt offerings and sin offerings[a] was not brought into the temple of the Lord; it belonged to the priests.”

The Northern Israelites also lost connection with their ancestry, becoming part of the peoples of Western Europe. We find that even in their places of exile, they continued to sin in the same way as they had done before being exiled. Their unique covenant with their God did little to differentiate them from their neighbors.

(2 Kings 17:7-17) – “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that was not right. From watchtowers to fortified cities they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, ‘You shall not do this.’ The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: ‘Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.’ But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, ‘Do not do as they do.’ They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.”

The Israelites had a bad habit of absorbing the local gods of the citizens around them, even giving reverence to deities apart from the One God of Israel. The northern nations assumed the customs of their neighbors. Yet, God, Himself drove those same neighbors out so that Israel would gain their land. Many of these practices were of the Canaanite peoples that had been expelled before them.

The people had set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree. These would go on to survive in Britain in the form of maypoles. “Asherim” were sacred groves of trees such as the Druids of the British Isles worshiped in. The groves were also associated with a goddess named “Asherah.” A form of this goddess was known to the Angles and Saxon under the name Eostre. The peoples of Israel made molded images, even two calves, and they also claimed to serve the pagan god of Baal.

The Israelites served many types of idols, even though God had said to them, “you shall not do this thing.” Humanity is still quick to worship anything that sounds good except the one real God. The Israelites did not keep the ten commandments.  God had warned them over and over! It was a simple list of ten and they could not do it. Unfortunately, neither can we today!

They sacrificed their sons and daughters by fire. This was a physical sacrifice, leading to the death of the child. Frightening to think that any society would just destroy the next generation with such barbarism. We are still doing it today. Crime, drugs, human trafficking, and abortion greatly affect today’s youth.

The Israelites also practiced divination and sought omens. They sinned as if they had sold themselves out to Satan.

Translating Sins into Our Contemporary Times

The idea of forgetting their covenant with God, forgetting their ancestry, and becoming a foreigner are interesting sins. God expects us to live in a fallen world but not be overcome by it. That process, it seems, leads to the abandonment of one’s beliefs in God. We can see that trend today. Without the guidance of God’s Truth in society, we become obsessed with consuming rather than serving. God’s commandments become meaningless, and our society sells itself to Satan. We are told every day through social media that sin is fun. Just watch the news, the entertainment industry, and even our educational institutions. That is what we feed to our children. It is no different than throwing them on a burning fire! That should bring us to tears. What is your list? Mine includes abortion, drugs, pornography, an ungodly educational system, gaming, trafficking, and the rampant consumption by society that is spending their future!

God’s Tolerance to Sin

Clearly, history shows us that God has a limit to His patience with a nation’s sinfulness. God loves His Creation! As any loving parent would do, punishment is meant to save. And to save, God sent His children into exile. Exile by the way is not something fun. You will not find it advertised on Airbnb. It is slavery at its worst. To avoid it means going back to basics. God, our Creator, loves us. Our response must be to Love God with all our heart and soul. We are to fear God with all our hearts and soul. We are to serve God with all our hearts and soul. We are to worship God with all our hearts and soul. Do you see any other way than to seek God’s Truth?


  • Do you believe in God?
    • Ideas to Explore: What is necessary to maintain a belief in God? How does faith help future generations? What is the evidence that a nation believes in God?
  • Do you believe that God would still punish a country that abandoned Him for Satan?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is there any country in history that abandoned God that lasted more than a few hundred years? How do the internal sins of a nation weaken its ability to survive?
  • God is very protective of children – Why?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it the compassionate nature of our Creator? Children are weak, they do not have power. Is it that Jesus came as a child and knew the world’s abuses of its children?
  • What can concerned and faithful people do to help a nation with its faith walk?
    • Ideas to Explore: Practice discernment. Learn to recognize God’s Truth. Learn to recognize Satan’s deceptions. Protect children! Hold its leaders accountable to God’s Truth!
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    NIV New International Version Translations