Verses 1-6 – This was the third and final invasion of Assyria into Israel. The people of Israel should have learned to turn back to God the first two invasions. However, they didn’t. God allowed Assyria to invade again, carrying off captives from the northern border. But Israel never realized they had caused this. Thus Assyria invaded a third time, destroying Israel completely, carrying away most of the people, and resettling the land with foreigners.
Verses 7-17 – God was doing what He said He would do in Deuteronomy 28. He had given Israel ample warning. They knew what would come, but they still ignored God. Israel was no better off than the pagan nations it had destroyed in the days of Joshua. Israel was chosen by God to be a light to the world and to show Him honor. The Lord judged the people of Israel because they copied the evil customs of the surrounding nations. They followed their own ways which created selfish desires. To live to yourself as Israel did brings serious consequences from God (Romans 12:1, 2). Divination means witchcraft, and sorcery is consulting evil spirits. Different forms of witchcraft, fortune-telling, and black magic were and still are forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). They are wrong because they seek power and guidance totally apart from God, His law, and His Word. Isaiah gives a warning for these practices and the destruction that comes to those who practice it (Isaiah 8:19-22).
Verse 9 – Secret sins are the ones we don’t want others to know about because they are embarrassing or incriminating. Sins done in private are not a secret to God, and secret defiance of Him is just as damaging as open rebellion.
Verses 13-15 – The people took on the characteristics of the idols and imitated the godless nation around them. Israel had forgotten the important benefits of obeying God’s Word. Time and again God had sent prophets to warn them of how far they had turned away from Him and to call them to turn back.
Verse 16 – All the “host of heaven” and starry host” refers to the Canaanite practice of worshiping the sun, moon, and constellations. These were Assyrian gods that were being added to their religion.
Verses 23 – Israel was taken into exile just as God’s p prophets had warned. Both the promises and warnings God has given in His Word do come true.
Verse 24 – The mixture of people resettled in Israel came to be known as Samaritans. They were despised by the Jews, even through the time of Christ (John 4:9).
Verses 27-29 – The new settlers in Israel worshiped God without giving up their pagan customs. They treated God like a good luck charm or another idol to add to their collection. There’s a similar attitude today. Many people claim to believe in God while refusing to give up attitudes and actions that God denounces. God is not an add-on to our wrong thinking. He must come first and His Word shapes our attitudes and actions.
Verses 29-31 – When Israel was first commanded by God to conquer the land, the Israelites were supposed to utterly destroy all the pagan influences that could draw them away from the One True God. Their failure to do this brought their ruin.