The biblical reality that God hates sin and will eventually punish it is reinforced in the stories of the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the conquest of Canaan, and the exile of the Israelites.

Sabbath Law. God made the Sabbath principle central to his creation. As part of their recognition that God owned everything, the Israelites were to set apart the seventh day for the Lord. To violate the Sabbath day was a serious sin because it denied God’s sovereignty.

Also, every seventh year the land was to lie fallow (Lev. 25:1-7). Yahweh promised to provide an abundant crop in the sixth year so no one would be hungry during the following year.

The Israelites’ affair with pagan fertility gods started almost as soon as they arrived in the fertile land of Canaan. God condemned idolatry because it failed to recognize him as the one true God. Idol worshipers worked on the Sabbath day because they did not recognize that they belonged to God and that God alone owned the land.

So God told his people that if they continued to be disobedient he would take their land from them so it would “have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it” (Lev. 26:35).

God’s Judgment. The Israelites continued disobedience finally caused God to bring judgment on them. (2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chron. 36:15-20). He ripped his stiff-necked people from their land, asserting his ownership over it and them (2 Chron. 36:21).

In 722 BC, the Assyrians destroyed the people of Israel (the northern ten tribes). In 586 BC, the people of Judah were exiles to Babylon for seventy years and the land rested for seventy years.

Hope Promised. Although God allowed Assyria to take the people of Judah into exile, he didn’t forget his people or end his plan of salvation. Second Chronicles 36 ends with optimism because the Israelites are told they will return to their land and rebuild the temple.

As it turned out, God’s people experienced tremendous spiritual growth during the Babylonian Captivity. Without their temple, the Israelites learned that obedience is better than sacrifice (Ps. 40:6, Isa. 1:10-20). They learned the importance of obeying all of God’s commands.

Thus God’s discipline ultimately strengthened his people. Instead of continuing down their path of moral and physical decay, the Israelites were able to renew their faith. They returned from Babylon with a renewed focus on being faithful to God (Ezra 9:10-15). Never again would baal worship and the shedding of innocent blood be the religion of Israel.


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