Why Israel Fell

Text: 2 Kings 17:7-18

A little more than 200 years after the kingdom was divided, the northern tribes were taken into captivity. In our text, we have an explanation as to why this happened. Just as they fell, we can fall away from God today – and for the same reasons. So let us consider the reasons why Israel fell so that we might learn not to do as they did.

They Sinned (v. 7)

  • This was the primary reason – other points about the reasons why they sinned were not excuses
  • Sin is a violation of God’s law (1 John 3:4) – God has always punished sin (Genesis 2:17; 3:16-24); He warned about it as well (Deuteronomy 28:15, 47-48)
  • Not only that, but sin is a rejection of God who always wants what is best for us – He delivered them from Egypt (v. 7); He wants to save us (2 Peter 3:9); but our sin prevents that (Isaiah 59:1-2)
  • If we serve sin, we will receive the wages of sin (Romans 6:16, 23) – even if we begin serving the Lord, we can be “disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27) and fall from grace (Galatians 5:4)

They Feared Other Gods (v. 7)

  • God expected them to serve Him exclusively (Exodus 20:2-3) – idolatry was explicitly condemned (Exodus 20:4)
  • The foolishness of this was that these other gods were not even real – they were invented by men (Isaiah 44:14-19)
  • We are to fear God alone (Matthew 10:28; Deuteronomy 6:13-14) – this will naturally lead to obedience (Ecclesiastes 12:13); not fearing God will lead to sin (Romans 3:9-10, 18)

They Walked in the Customs of Other Nations (v. 8)

  • God warned them not to be like the nations around them (Deuteronomy 12:29-30) – but too often the people wanted to be like these other nations (1 Samuel 8:5, 19-20)
  • God gave His law so they would be set apart (Leviticus 20:22-26)
  • God expects us to be different from the world around us (Romans 12:2) – we are to “come out…and be separate” so that God will welcome us (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

They Walked in the Customs of Their Kings (v. 8)

  • After the kingdom divided, the nation of Israel was led by one wicked king after another – the people followed the influence of their leaders
  • It is certainly true that God holds each person individually accountable (Ezekiel 18:20) – but the influence of those in power can be strong over the nation (Esther 1:16-20)
  • We are told to submit to those in authority (Romans 13:1) – but God has made this conditional; we submit to God first (Acts 5:29); we can obey leaders to the degree that God allows us to
  • This could also apply to the church – we are to obey our leaders (Hebrews 13:17); but we can only follow them if they are leading us in the right way (Acts 20:29-30; Hebrews 13:7)

They Refused to Listen to God’s Warnings (v. 12-15)

  • God warned them in His law not to serve idols (v. 12; Exodus 20:4)
  • When they disobeyed, He warned them through the prophets to repent (v. 13, 23) – but they refused to listen; they “stiffened their neck” or hardened their heart
  • There is a danger that this can happen to God’s people today (Hebrews 3:12-13) – when God’s people sin, they need to be warned of their condition (James 5:19-20)
  • God wants those who are in sin to repent (2 Peter 3:9) – He gives us time to do so; however, we do not know how long we have, so repentance is urgent (2 Corinthians 6:2; Psalm 119:59-60)


  • God’s people under the old law are an example to us – they fell because of their sin; the same thing can happen to us
  • Instead of falling as they did, we must continue to serve the Lord and remain faithful to Him

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