Story of the Old Testament - Lesson 11

By Glen Pemberton

Title: The Story of North Israel

I Kings 13 - II Kings 17, Amos, Hosea, and Jonah

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. To help the student grasp the basic story of North Israel as it develops in I Kings 13 - II Kings 17.
  2. To help the student understand why North Israel was destroyed and to encourage the student not to make the same kinds of mistakes.
  3. To introduce three different types of prophets that appeared on the scene during this era and their interaction role in the life of the nation.


  1. A Bible for each student.
  2. A chalkboard or marker board.
  3. Copies of Student Handout #11 (“The Story of North Israel”)


Religion and politics may not mix well in modern America, but in ancient Israel politics and religion were inseparable (in reality, this is still true today in America). In summary fashion, this lesson addresses the story of North Israel from its beginning with Jeroboam to its demise. This history is one kings (politics) and prophets (religion) often pitted against one another in a battle to the death. Study of this history reveals a similar battle in the life of our country and in our own individual lives.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class:

Introduction: (about 5 minutes)

  1. Welcome visitors. Make any necessary announcements.
  2. Spend time taking prayer requests & leading the class in prayer.

Learning Experiences: (about 25 minutes)

  1. Introduction: Review and set the stage for today’s study.
    1. Review through questions:
      1. Q. Who can remember the first king of united Israel? A. Saul Q. Why did he lose his throne? A. Trusted himself rather than God
      2. Q. Who was the second king of Israel? A. David Q. What is he best known for? A. A man after God’s heart
      3. Q. Who was the third and last king of united Israel? A. Solomon
      4. Q. What happened to the nation after the death of Solomon? A. Division into two independent nations: South Judah and North Israel
    2. An overview of North Israelite history.
      1. Duration:
        1. The division of united Israel took place in about 930 BCE.
        2. North Israel will be conquered by Assyria and essentially cease to exist in about 722 BCE.
        3. Quick math reveals a lifespan of about 208 years (roughly the present age of the United States).
      2. Due to time constraints we will not attempt to survey the 200+ year history of North Israel. Instead, three observations must suffice:
  2. Three Observations about the story of North Israel:
    1. North Israel was continually plagued by political turmoil. Multiple dynasties (ruling families) competed for the throne of North Israel, with the result of political instability.
      1. At the beginning, the turmoil was especially tense:
        1. Jeroboam’s family stays in power for only two generations (I Kgs 15:25-29, c. 24 years)
        2. Baasha’s family stays in power for only two generations (I Kgs 16:8-9, c. 26 years)
        3. Zimri lasts for only 7 days (Read I Kgs 16:15- 18).
      2. During the middle years, two families ruled for about 150 years and provided the country with much needed stability.
        1. The family of Omri ruled for 4 generations (II Kgs 9:21-24, c. 48 years).
        2. The family of Jehu ruled for 5 generations (II Kgs 15:8-10, c. 102 years)
      3. Political instability, however, later returned & led to the demise of the nation:
        1. Shallum assassinated the king & ruled in his place for 1 month (Read II Kgs 15:13-14).
        2. Menahem killed Shallum and took the throne. His family holds the throne for c. 12 years. (Read II Kgs 15:23-25)
        3. Pekah killed Menahem’s son (Pekahiah) and regined (II Kgs 15:25)
        4. Hoshea killed Pekah and took the throne (II Kgs 15:30). Hoshea would be the last king of North Israel.
      4. In sum, the nation was plagued by political conspiracy and assassination.
    2. North Israel was also plagued by the moral failure of her leaders. In fact, this problem was a direct cause of the political instability.
      1. Jeroboam, the first king of North Israel, led the nation away from God. Q. From last week’s lesson, what did Jeroboam do to keep his people from worshipping the Lord in Jerusalem? (I Kgs 12:25-33) A.
        1. He built rival Sanctuaries (Holy Places) at Dan & Bethel.
        2. He established a new priesthood.
        3. He created new religious festivals to rival those in Jerusalem.
        4. Just as David becomes the standard of comparison in the South, so Jeroboam becomes the (bad) standard in the north.
      2. After Jeroboam, North Israelite Kings continually failed in spiritual leadership. Notice the summary statements (read several of the following)
        1. Nadab (I Kgs 15:25-26)
        2. Baasha (I Kgs 15:33-34)
        3. Omri (I Kgs 16:25-26) The only question seems to be if the king is a little better or worse than Jeroboam!
        4. Ahab (I Kgs 16:29-30)
        5. Skip ahead: Jehoram (II Kgs 3:1-3)
        6. Jehu (II Kgs 10:28-31)
        7. Then a series of moral failures: II Kgs 15:8-9, 17-18, 23-24, 27-28 (Read all these)
      3. As a consequence of the failure in leadership, the people also turned away from God.
        1. Read II Kgs 17:7-12
        2. God tries to work with these people. He tries to make them turn back to him, but they refuse. (Read II Kgs 17:13-15)
    3. God sent numerous prophets to North Israel
      1. [Introduction]
        1. Go back to II Kgs 17:13 (reread). Q. Who or what did the Lord send to warn the people? A. Prophets
        2. Q. What is a prophet? A. Actually the term “prophet” covers a variety of activity. In North Israel, we see at least three different types of prophet!
      2. [Three types of prophets in North Israel]
        1. Type One: The prophet as a zealot (or fanatic) who leads the charge against false gods.
          1. Example: Elijah
          2. Famous Story: Elijah versus the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel (I Kgs 18). (Read and/or summarize the story as time permits)
            1. Prelude: 18:1-19 Q. What has been happening the past three years in Israel? A. Severe Famine (18:1-6), prophets of the Lord killed (18:3,13), and an intensive search for Elijah (18:7-10)
            2. The Contest at Mt. Carmel (locate on map): 18:17-40
              1. The Challenge (Read 18:21-24). Q. What is the contest? A. Who is the real God of Israel.
              2. The prophets of Baal try to get Baal to light the sacrifice & prove he is God (vv. 25-29). Q. But what happens? A. Nothing!
              3. Then Elijah acts (vv. 30-40). Q. What does he do? - Builds an Altar. - Douses the altar with water, 3 times. - Prays to God
              4. Q. Then what happens? A. The Lord burns up the sacrifice and proves he is the true God of Israel. - One might think that this resolves the issue; the people will now honor Elijah & the Lord. - In fact, this only makes it worse. Jezebel puts out a death warrant (19:1-2) and Elijah runs away (19:4-9)
          3. Summary: Elijah’s life as a prophet revolved around his campaign against the false gods that were leading Israel to her doom.
        2. Type two: The prophet as a mighty miracle worker
          1. Example: Elisha (I Kgs 2-8)
          2. Famous Story. Take your pick from many memorable events:
            1. Elisha purifies the water of Jericho (2:19- 22)
            2. Elisha curses some boys from Bethel (2:23-25).
            3. The miraculous flow of oil (4:1-7)
            4. Elisha promises a son to a barren woman (4:8-17)
            5. Elisha resurrects the Shunammite’s son (4:18-37)
            6. Elisha “detoxifies” the stew (4:38-41)
            7. Elisha multiplies the loaves & grain (4:42- 44)
            8. Elisha & Naaman the leper (5:1-27)
            9. Elisha makes an iron axe-head float (6:1- 7)
            10. Special Note to the Teacher: If possible, read one or two short stories about Elisha (I recommend the flow of oil [4:1-7] and the floating axe head [6:1-7]). These stories, for the most part, do not have a moral point. Rather, they demonstrate the Lord’s active presence in the land through the ministry of Elisha.
          3. Summary: Elisha’s life as a prophet revolves around mighty deeds (miracles) that demonstrate the presence and power of the Lord, the true God of Israel. If only the people would accept this God, the nation would not be doomed.
        3. Type three: The prophet as a spokesperson for God and whose words have formed the nucleus of prophetic books.
          1. Example: Amos and Hosea
          2. Famous texts:
            1. From Amos
              1. Read Amos 1:1. Amos lived in c. 750 BCE during the final years of the northern nation.
              2. Read 2:6-8
              3. Read 4:4-8
              4. Special Note to the Teacher: Read as many of the selected verses from Amos and Hosea as possible in order to illustrate the teaching of these prophets. Ask the students to summarize the teaching of each passage (e.g., “what is Amos saying?”)
            2. From Hosea
              1. Read Hosea 1:1. Hosea spoke out a little after Amos, c. 746-724 BCE.
              2. Read 4:1-3
              3. Read 11:1-9 (Notice God’s struggle of what to do with Israel - they deserve punishment, but he desperately loves them.)
          3. Summary: Like Elijah and Elisha, Amos & Hosea attempted to turn the people back to the Lord before it was too late. Unfortunately, few people listened and the nation was destroyed.
  3. North Israel came to an end because of their refusal to follow God.
    1. In 722 BCE Assryia conquers the capital city of North Israel (Samaria).
    2. The people are taken into captivity.
      1. Not all, but many were scattered throughout the Assyrian empire
      2. Assyria repopulated the territory of North Israel with other people (This repopulation eventually leads to the “Samaritans” of the New Testament).
    3. For practical purposes, the nation of North Israel comes to an end.


(about 5 minutes; discuss one or more of the following topics)

  1. What do you think the three different types of prophets would say or do today? What would a zealot for the Lord do? What would a mighty miracle worker do? What would a spokesperson for God say? Should we be saying or doing any of these things? Are we? Why or why not?
  2. What similarities and dissimilarities do you see between ancient North Israel and modern America? Does this concern you?
  3. The basic question for North Israel was who or what was the true God: Baal or the Lord? Who could they trust when they most needed help? What would you say is the basic question for people living today? (A. The same question: who or what will really be the God of my life ? me, the Lord, a friend, family, peers, etc.) How do people respond to this question?


Read I Kgs 14:21-15:24; II Kgs 12, 18-25


Prayer that:

  1. Thanks God for his mercy and faithfulness to North Israel and people like us. We do not deserve anything better than destruction.
  2. Asks the Lord to help us make him the true God of our lives.
  3. Asks the Lord to forgive us for relying upon so many people and things other than him.

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