Here’s the top-level stuff you need to know before we dive into the first set of prophets:
Assyria was located in northeastern part of modern Iraq. The Assyrian empire grew rapidly during the 8th century B.C. as they secured major trade routes throughout the region. Their expansion continued under a guy named Shalmaneser III (858-824 B.C.) who consolidated the Assyrian power in the west and set his sights on Israel (and the coastal highway leading to Egypt).
Israel’s king Ahab was part of an anti-Assyrian coalition that temporarily managed to repel the invaders (Battle of Qarqar in 853 B.C.) but in the end, Assyria was victorious and forced Israel into captivity in 722 B.C.
Assyria was one of the greatest empires of Antiquity until it was overthrown by the Babylonians in 612 B.C.
In a nutshell:
- Wickedness and corruption were widespread in Israel.
- Assyria was the “bad guy” in the eyes of Israel.
- Israel’s limited victory at Qarqar bred the idea that they could stop the Assyrian powerhouse.
- Israel developed a sense of arrogance as God’s chosen people.
- Israel & Judah enjoyed a time of peace while Assyria was preoccupied with the mountain tribes to the north and didn’t continue its westward campaigns until 745 B.C.
- Israel misinterpreted their peace & prosperity as God’s blessing but it was simply the calm before the storm.
- God raised up prophets to warn them of the impending judgment.
Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah and Isaiah were prophets during the time of Assyrian dominance.
So… Think with me here.
Israel was: (1) A nation filled with corruption and wickedness that largely rejected God and His Word. (2) Despite their rampant sin, they felt superior because of God’s blessings in former generations. (3) Their previous military victories gave them a sense of confidence against their current enemies. (4) They enjoyed a season of peace and prosperity immediately before things got really bad.
Hmmm… Can you think of a modern nation that fits this description?
Nah. Me either.