Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
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. . . .
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.”
The Lord judged the people of Israel because they had copied the evil customs of the surrounding nations, worshiped false gods, and followed their own desires. Not only did they condone wickedness and idolatry in public, but they committed even worse sins in private.
The nation ignored God and had rejected his purpose—that they honor God and be a light to the world. In all this, they aroused the Lord’s anger. Time and again God had sent prophets to warn them about how far they had turned away from him and to call them to turn back. Finally, God did what he had said he would do—he enacted justice by bringing judgment on the nation (Deuteronomy 28). The people of Israel were exiled to Assyria.
God’s patience and mercy stretch beyond any patience or mercy we show others. He will pursue us until we either respond to him or make ourselves unreachable by our own choices and hardness of heart. Then God’s judgment is swift and sure. The only safe course is to turn to God before our stubbornness puts us beyond redemption.