II Kings 10:32 – 16:20
The Fourth Course of Punishment greatly intensified the effects that Israel’s enemies had upon them. As specified in Leviticus 26:23-26, God would now begin to “walk contrary” unto Israel. He would send a “sword” among them to “avenge the quarrel of His covenant.” The direct invasion of the land would occur, with sieges being laid against their walled cities and their open lands being abandoned. The punishments of the Fourth Course are just shy of a complete deliverance of the people and the land into the hands of their enemies. When God began to “cut Israel short,” as described beginning in II Kings 10:32, He began the Fourth Course of Punishment. In cutting Israel short God permitted their enemies to actually begin taking possession of portions of the land. He began to reduce Israel in size, both geographically and numerically. He “delivered them into the hands of their enemies” repeatedly, as He “walked contrary unto them.” On a few occasions Israel’s kings responded positively to the chastisement and sought the Lord. The Lord, according to His mercy, then provided deliverance. However, these reprieves were only short-lived. The overall course of the nation was one of continued rebelliousness and persistent hardness of heart. In II Kings 13:22-23 God’s graciousness is cited while Israel suffered under Syria’s oppression. God was gracious because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hence, He would not cast “them from His presence as yet.” The potential was there at this time for Israel to have been cast from God’s presence. However, the time for that was “not yet.” It would be under the Fifth Course of Punishment that this would take place. The Northern kingdom (Israel/Samaria) preceded the Southern kingdom (Judah) in meriting courses 3, 4, and 5. Most of II Kings 10:32-16:20 pertains to the Northern kingdom under the Fourth Course. However, in II Kings 15:36-37, the declaration is made about the start of the Fourth Course in the Southern kingdom.