Israel’s Rich Foundation
Unlike any other country, tribe or people on Earth, God singled out a specific people to invest into, and from that people would one day come the Savoir of the world! From the very beginning of His relationship with them, God showed Himself to them and expressed to them how they could best serve Him.
To Moses, He gave the Ten Commandments. He told them that He would be their provider, and gave explicit instructions on how they were to worship Him. These instructions included how to build a tabernacle to Him– what to make it out of, how long it should be, who could come in and how to transport it. He told them how they could worship Him correctly. This included what sacrifices to bring, what made an acceptable sacrifice, and what did not. He even told them how to arrange themselves around the Tabernacle, and who was to depart first. He directed them by a pillar of cloud and pillar of fire to show them where to go.
God promised to be with them while they were with Him.
If that weren’t enough, God helped Joshua in the battles to get Canaan. To underscore that the same God that was with Moses was with Joshua, God started the campaign with a parting of the Jordan, which was reminiscent of the parting of the Red Sea. He took the Jericho’s strong walls and used them against them, and punished His people with Ai when Achan sinned.
As a result, those that were with Joshua to the generation that came after him served the Lord (Joshua 24:31)
David and his heart after the Lord was also a part of Israel’s rich heritage. Many would have known his dealings with Saul, would have heard about what happened after Bathsheba, and saw him leave and return as Absalom sought to make right what David would not.
Israel’s Continued Problems
Israel had a cyclical pattern of Judges after Joshua and the people after Joshua. They would follow God while the Judge was there, then they would drift away, then they would be put in captivity, then they would cry to the Lord who would provide a Judge. Rinse, repeat.
They desired to have a king because other peoples had one. God had warned them against it, but gave it to them anyway. The kings started good, but continued to get worse.
The Kingdom Divided
Eventually the kingdom was divided because of Solomon’s sin of following after other gods. The kingdoms were conquered– first Israel who had set up false idols to worship instead of going to Jerusalem, followed by Judah who waffled between doing right and worshiping idols.
Amazing, isn’t it? God gave his commandments to His people, and started off by saying “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and that was the very thing that led to Israel’s captivity.