I’ve heard from some people that they can’t understand why God would be so harsh in the Old Testament. If you read through the entire Old Testament, it’s hard to deny how gracious, patient, loving and compassionate God was to His people before he finally couldn’t continue letting them proceed in their destructive ways. I just finished the book of Isaiah awhile ago and time and time again God asked them to turn from their ways and follow Him. This is one of my favorite verses in Isaiah concerning his plea for them to return back to Him:
“Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:7-9 NLT
If you read through 1 and 2 Kings you see many kings described like this: ‘He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord his God, as his ancestor David had done.’ Very rarely do we see kings described as following the Lord. These following verses explain that God did everything He could to warn them and yet they still disobeyed Him. They were stubborn people and even Israel introduced evil practices that led Judah astray. He punished Israel by handing them over to their attacker’s- Assyria. At the end it explains, it wasn’t until the Lord’s presence left them that they finally turned away from their sin. God wants a relationship with us, but instead of receiving God’s good and pleasing grace and trusting Him at face value, time and time again our stubborn hearts want to do things on our own apart from God. But God wants what is best for us and won’t give up on us, even if we insist doing everything the hard way. Whatever is leading our stubborn hearts astray from God, that we are putting before Him, idols that we were not designed to submit to and worship, let’s turn from it and receive what is the best from the Lord. He’s got what we need and it’s better than any counterfeit.
“This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced.
So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger.
Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.” But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.
Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land. But even the people of Judah refused to obey the commands of the Lord their God, for they followed the evil practices that Israel had introduced. The Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel. He punished them by handing them over to their attackers until he had banished Israel from his presence.
And the people of Israel persisted in all the evil ways of Jeroboam. They did not turn from these sins until the Lord finally swept them away from his presence, just as all his prophets had warned. So Israel was exiled from their land to Assyria, where they remain to this day.” -2 Kings 17:7-8, 11, 13-15, 18-20, 22-23 NLT