siren July 1 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Isaiah 28:1-13; Hosea 5:8–7:16; 2Kings 16:10-18; 2Chronicles 28:22-25; 2Kings 15:30-31; 2Kings 17:1-2 (see more for chronological note); Hosea 8:1–9:17

Heed the Siren

Summer is not just a time for fun in the sun, picnics, lying on the beach, and vacations; it is also a time for severe weather as cold and warm fronts collide. We watch approaching storms outside and on the weather channel. Sometimes, the weather forecasters will tell us to quickly take shelter, for there is a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or even a hurricane approaching. What is oftentimes true physically is also true spiritually; there are approaching storms and we must take immediate action. We must heed the sirens.

At this time in our chronological Bible reading the northern kingdom of Israel is facing an Assyrian invasion and Judah is threatened, too.

Sound the trumpet in Gibeah, the horn in Ramah. Raise the battle cry in Beth Aven; lead on, O Benjamin. Ephraim [a prominent tribe symbolic for the northern kingdom of Israel] will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain (Hosea 5:8-9, NIV).

Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle [a symbol of Assyria] is over the house of the LORD because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law. Israel cries out to me, “O our God, we acknowledge you!” But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him (Hosea 8:1-3, NIV).

Israel is about to be conquered because she is very wicked. Out of desperation, she claims allegiance to God, hoping for His help, but God knows her heart.

Besides the extreme wickedness of Israel, one of the things she does is particularly offensive to God.

When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores, then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help [during the Syro-Ephraimite War of 734 B.C.]. But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores (Hosea 5:13, NIV).

God is offended because Israel does not look to Him for help but to godless, idol worshipping nations. Do we do the same things? Is the LORD the first person we turn to when we are sick or in trouble, or the last person? Let's not offend God by relying on others to help us before we ask Him.

In a demonstration of great strength, like a lion attacking, God will use Assyria to attack Israel and even destroy towns in Judah. While under siege from her enemies, Israel and Judah will repent, but their love for God will be short-lived.

“What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings,” (Hosea 6:4-6, NIV).

If the LORD has been merciful to heal and forgive us, how long does our love last—till the pain or problem is gone? God wants us to need Him every day of our lives.

Instead of needing the LORD, Israel is like a prostitute seizing any man and agreeing to any terms so that she can be protected and survive. She even gives him money and worships his gods.

In another symbolic illustration, God summarizes his offense:

“Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless-- now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria. When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them.

Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine [celebrations of prosperity] but turn away from me. I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me. They do not turn to the Most High” (Hosea 7:11-16a, NIV).

A lesson we might learn from this Bible reading is: Let's not be deceived into taking shelter from those who seem powerful; we need to take shelter in God.

The LORD longs for Israel to return to Him, to be restored and protected, but He is rejected.

While Israel is facing a threat from Assyria, King Ahaz is reigning in Judah. He is a wicked king. After being defeated by a coalition of Aramean and Israelite troops (the Syro-Ephraimite war), he seeks the help of Assyria and pays Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, tribute money to remove the threat. Assyria defeats the coalition, however, he does not give help to Ahaz but trouble. After further attacks from the Edomites and the Philistines because of his sin, Ahaz once again turns to Assyria for help. In desperation, he tries to do everything he can to please the king of Assyria. He even has an Assyrian altar made for Israel's sacred ceremonies, hoping that Assyria's gods might help him have victory, too. Furthermore,

Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and took them away. He shut the doors of the LORD's temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and provoked the LORD, the God of his fathers, to anger. (2Chronicles 28:24-25, NIV)

Here is another lesson for us: if we want protection from God, we should heed His warnings and not make him angry.

There is still some time for Judah to repent, but Israel is destined for certain destruction. There is no shelter for her because she abandoned the LORD her refuge.

Many people do not know how close they are to the day of disaster, but the wise see the signs. Carelessness, complacency, evil, giving themselves to sensual pleasures, casting off restraints, lies, self-deception, and denial are all symptoms of those living on the edge of spiritual disaster. If this describes any of us we need to beware! Let's hear and listen to the sirens in God's Word. Let's seek refuge in the LORD (more...).

Lessons to Live By

•  Is God the first person we turn to when we are sick or in trouble, or the last person? Let us not offend God by relying on others to help us instead of Him.

•  God wants us to need Him every day of our lives.

• We should not be deceived into taking shelter from those who seem powerful; we should take shelter in God.

•  If we want protection from God, we should heed His warnings and not make Him angry.

•  Hear and listen to the sirens in God's Word. Make the LORD your refuge (more...)

Focus Verse

Proverbs 22:3 (NIV) “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”  

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A Look Ahead: Israel refuses to come to the LORD and persists in wickedness, Rebellion and Unrequited Love. Let's not follow her example.

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