Blog: Max Dawson
May 8, 2017
Why were the people of God punished and carried off into Assyria and Babylon as slaves? The short and easy answer that Bible students give is “idolatry.” And that would be correct, but there is more to the story!
Any time I teach a Bible class that deals with Old Testament topics, I nearly always address the big problem that Israel had–the thing that caused their downfall.
When Israel came into the Promised Land, what did God tell them? They were to drive all the Canaanites from the land. Why? Because those pagans would be a thorn in their side; they were idol worshipers. If the Israelites left idol worshipers in the land, they might be tempted to worship those pagan deities.
And it happened just as God said it might. In process of time the Northern Kingdom of Israel went deep into idolatry. God sent the Assyrian army against that kingdom. The Northern Kingdom fell in 722 BC because of idolatry. Many of the people were carried off to be slaves in Assyria.
The same thing happened in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. And thus, Judah also fell. The year was 586 BC when the third attack of the Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem and its temple. Why were the Jews carried off to Babylon? Again, it was because of idolatry.
While the facts I have reviewed in the paragraphs above are undoubtedly true, is that the whole story? It is not! There was something in Israel and Judah that allowed idolatry to permeate the hearts and lives of the people.
Do you know what it was? Read on.
It was a failure of the leaders in Israel. The prophet Ezekiel indicts the kings, priests, prophets and princes in Israel. I urge you to read .
The indictment begins with “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel…”
The leaders were only concerned with themselves. They did not feed the flock. They did not strengthen the weak or heal those who were sick. They failed to bring back those who were driven away or lost. Instead, with force and cruelty they ruled over the flock. The flock (the people of God) was scattered because they had no true shepherds. And no one seemed to care. Except God.
Poor leadership in Israel left the people vulnerable to error and sin. That is what allowed them to go into idolatry and into captivity.
The text in exemplifies John Maxwell’s statement that “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” Israel fell because of poor leadership.
What was true in Israel is true in churches. Success depends on leadership–the right kind of leadership. Let my fellow shepherds throughout the great brotherhood of Christians take heed and let us give God our very best efforts ().
More to come on leadership in the days ahead!
Blessings to you,

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