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The Divided Kingdom & The Remnant Returns

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Rediscovering Israel Online Biblical Study
Reading Assignment – Pg. 107-142
Reading Time: 5 minutes

It wouldnโ€™t be much of a stretch to say at least a dozen random songs pop into my mind throughout the day. Sometimes it seems like my thoughts get switched to โ€œMusical Modeโ€ and when Iโ€™m around family and close friends, I will let the songs slip their way into our conversations. 

Maybe someday Bree and I will try counting how many songs come to mind while weโ€™re working in the office getting orders ready to be shipped out. After all, there truly is a song for everything.

The song How Far, by Tasha Layton, Tasha Layton- How Far (Official Lyric Video) repeatedly came to my mind while reading chapters six and seven of Rediscovering Israel. Kristi McLelland introduced these chapters with the questions that Tasha Layton and so many of us ask:

โ€œIs it possible for me to go too far? Can I get beyond Godโ€™s ability to save, restore, and bring me home?โ€

Kristi McLelland, Rediscovering Israel, Pg. 107

How far is too far?
I thought I’d be there by now

When God brought the Israelites to their land along the International Coastal Highway, He wanted them to be an example to the world of what it was like to live under His rule and reign. He wanted there to be an obvious difference between the Israelites and all of the other โ€œitesโ€ in the surrounding areas. 

Unfortunately, that was not always what happened, especially during the reign of King Solomon. Though life was good and comfortable for the people, it became more difficult to distinguish Israelite behavior from the lifestyles of their neighbors. 

We see what happens when Solomon gets distracted, and his heart is pulled away from his devotion and commitment to the Lord. 

โ€œKing Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaohโ€™s daughter โ€“Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites. They were from nations about which the LORD had told  the Israelites, โ€œYou must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.โ€ Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.โ€
1 Kings 11:1-2, NIV

Solomon was testing just how far he could go away from Godโ€™s instruction. Though he did build a Temple to the Lord, he also built many other temples to the many other gods that his many wives worshiped. Solomon led Godโ€™s chosen people into immorality and pagan worship. 

Followed shame to the place
I was sure your grace ran out

Unfortunately, Solomonโ€™s son Rehoboam wasn’t any better at leading, and he refused to listen to the elders and took counsel from his unwise friends. Because of the unfair and extreme taxes he demanded, the people revolted, and the land that had been united was divided into two. 

โ€œThis split sends the Israelites down a dual trajectory. Under Saul, David, and Solomon, it is known as the United Kingdom. From Rehoboamโ€™s rule around 930 BC forward, it is known as the Divided Kingdom, with both kingdoms headed for exile in foreign countries. The lights are going out. Can God turn them back on? Have the Israelites gone so far that they canโ€™t come back?โ€ย 

Kristi McLelland, Rediscovering Israel, Pg. 114

I kept running, and running, and running
You kept chasing, and chasing, and chasing

Things just continued to get worse when the Assyrians invaded the Northern Kingdom as many Israelites were taken into exile, and the ones who remained in the land intermingled and intermarried and immersed themselves into the Assyrian life, theology, and ethnicity. 

Every king who ruled in the north was worse than the one before him. Generation after generation, they became more evil and more corrupt. 

For a short while, things were a little bit better in the Southern Kingdom because of the few upright kings like Hezekiah and Josiah, who led the people in a revival. But even with the efforts of these good kings, the people continued to misrepresent God and were not living as examples set apart from the world around them. Eventually, the Babylonians invaded and conquered the South, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, and the Temple of the Lord burned to the ground. 

I turn around, and I see
Pure compassion in Your eyes

โ€œAt this point in the story, none of the twelve tribes have governance or autonomy in the land. They live in exile in other countries. Could they be any further from what God had originally planned?โ€ย 

Kristi McLelland, Rediscovering Israel, Pg. 120

Thankfully not all hope was lost. God knew when He made the covenant with Abram that people, even His beloved chosen Israelites, would test the limits and fall away from His guidance. God was gracious and didnโ€™t allow Abram to take part in making the contract. He had compassion for His people and knew humanity could never be able to keep the covenant, so He alone carried the weight of that agreement. 

Even when the Israelites did their worst and both kingdoms were taken into exile, God was getting ready to show them His best.

Saviorโ€™s voice says to me
“Time to come back home, my child.”

After seventy years of the Israelites being in exile, God gathered the remnants and systematically began bringing His people back home. God gave each of the three remnants their own to-do lists once they were back in the promised land. 

So I came runningโ€ฆ

The first group was instructed to rebuild the Temple. 

And runningโ€ฆ

The second group learned and reinstated the laws of God.

And running.

And finally, the third remnant were assigned to the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.

And you kept reaching, and reaching, and reaching, Lord.

God reached far and wide to bring His people back home. He reached around the city and protected them as a wall of fire. 

โ€œAt this point in the story, the Israelites have no wall. They are rebuilding the Temple, people groups are harassing them on all sides, and one sentence spoken through the prophet Zechariah holds them through this time.โ€

Kristi McLelland, Rediscovering Israel, Pg. 132

In Zechariah 2:5, NLT, God says this to his people, โ€œThen I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the LORD. And I will be the glory inside the city!โ€  

A million miles of my mistakes
Still couldn’t keep Your love away

Even though the Israelites did their worst and rejected Godโ€™s plans and laws, and misrepresented Him by refusing to carry themselves differently than their pagan neighbors, God continued to do His best and mercifully worked to return, restore, and reestablish His people in the land He promised to their forefather Abram.

However far away I am from home
That’s how far Your love will go

The more I learn about this season of Israel’s story and see how beautifully it goes along with Tasha Laytonโ€™s song, I canโ€™t help but wonder if Jesus had these memories on His mind while He shared the story in Luke 15 about a lost son and his running father. 

โ€œAnd while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.โ€
Luke 15:20, NLT

The same God who lovingly brought His people back home and welcomed them into His protective embrace is the same loving father running towards us when we stray from His plans and callings for our lives. Godโ€™s love and ability to save, restore, and bring us home from however far away we have gone. 

That’s how far Your love will go.

Has there ever been a time when you thought you possibly had gone too far?ย 
How did God prove His ability to save, restore, and bring you home?

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Rediscovering Israel | Kristi McLelland

A 7-week study to experience Scripture as a timeless, transformational Story demonstrating Godโ€™s love and faithfulness. String the Biblical pearls to encounter the Bible as one cohesive storyline, rather than a book of stand-alone accounts.

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