THE haughty Assyrian did not know that God had given Israel into his hand, but magnified himself against the God of Israel. So he sent a message to Hezekiah, king of Judah saying, "Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying `Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria'" (2 Kings 19:10). But Yahweh answered, "Because thy rage against Me and thy arrogance is come up into Mine ears, Therefore I will put My hook in thy nose, and My bridle in thy lips, And I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest (2 Kings 19:28). And again, "For I will be a shield to this city, to save it for Mine own sake, and for My servant David's sake" (2 Kings 19:34). "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when Israel arose early in the morning behold, they were all corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt in Nineveh" (2 Kings 19:36,37).
For when Yahweh would no more have mercy on Israel He had said, "But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horse, nor by horsemen" (Hosea 1:7).
And was Judah better than Israel, that He should reward her thus?
When His judgment upon Israel was still in Judah's eyes, His complaint was heard: "And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto Me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord. And the Lord said unto me, Backsliding Israel hath justified her soul more than treacherous Judah" (Jer.3:10,11).
Though thou clothest thyself with crimson,
Though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold,
Though thou circlest thy eyes with painting,
In vain shalt thou make thyself fair;
Thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy soul. (Jer.4:30).
Our own hearts would suggest that Judah was suffered to remain in His house because of some virtue, or some righteousness of her own; so that she did not deserve the severe judgment of Israel. Not so. Judah became worse than Israel. Nevertheless He did not cast her off. The punishment of the seventy years captivity brought a little reviving for a time. But before the days of the prophets ended, we see her again lower than ever, her heart far from Him, though striving to keep up the outward form.
All the charges brought against her she denied.
"I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say `Wherein hast thou loved us'" (Malachi 1:2)?
For the Lord the God of Israel saith that he hateth putting away (Malachi 2:16).
Nothing remained but to try her according to the law of jealousy.