Devotional Thought – Israel’s Idolatry


Cody H. –

I’m continuing my reading through The Old Testament and I’m in 2 Kings now. I’m learning so much and have been so encouraged by 1 and 2 Samuel and King David and how he lived and just learned a lot of applicable things for me. A lot of things that I could apply that were practical.

But I’ve come to 2 Kings now and it’s a pretty simple narrative form of a variety of kings through the history of the Northern kingdom of Israel with its capital in Samaria and then the Southern kingdom of Israel, Judah actually, with its capital in Jerusalem.

On Saturday morning, I read chapter 17 of 2 Kings. And this is where the author is sharing this horrible account of King Shalmaneser of Syria. He’s coming and he’s attacked Israel and he besieges Samaria for three years, captures it forcibly, and deports the Israelites all the way back to Syria. And it’s just a terrible, sad, heart-wrenching account. And actually, there are a lot of details left out because they were probably very difficult to write and would have been very difficult for the readers to read.

But I wanted to read a few selected verses for you from 2 Kings 17.

“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria. He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah along the border of Habor, Gozan’s river, and in the cities of the Medes. This disaster happened because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and because they worshiped other gods. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. They did evil things, angering the Lord. They served idols. Although the Lord had told them, “You must not do this.” Still, the Lord warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commands and statutes according to the whole law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through my servants, the prophets.” But they would not listen, they followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves following the surrounding nations the Lord had commanded them not to imitate.”

Really tough to read. He just goes on and on. It was amazing to me how long this segment was. And I’ve cut out a lot of verses here. This is just a few. He just keeps saying the same thing in different words. Idolatry: that was why God allowed this to happen.

So I took two things from this. Number one, God allowed the Israelites to be conquered, to be deported. He allowed them to be because of their sin. And we know that His thoughts are far above ours, right? “Who can give him counsel?” Isaiah 40, Isaiah 55, and Job 36.

But really, this isn’t one of those times. God’s not being cryptic here. He’s not being dense. He’s not trying to obfuscate anything. He’s not being cryptic in any way.

What He was making clear to the Israelites then, and to us now by preserving His word and allowing us to read this account, is this: He would rather His people, the Israelites, suffer a terrible defeat at the hands of their enemies and be deported over 500 miles away, and all the atrocities that were committed in that process, — He would rather have that happen than to have them live in idolatry and sin thinking it was OK.

That should help us understand how truly destructive sin and idolatry are. If God would prefer defeat and deportation for His people over them living in sin.

Second thing, fast forward to today, after the death and resurrection of Christ, our substitute: if we are in Christ, we live in the freedom he purchased for us with a sacrifice.

Where do we fit into the story? God allowed Christ to be, as it were, defeated and deported by His enemies on our behalf, punished for our sin and idolatry. We’re not actually in the story.

No one in the story experiences what we get to experience. If we are in Christ, we get nothing but grace, nothing but forgiveness, nothing but mercy.

We deserved complete separation from God. We get unity with His Son. We deserved eternal death. We get eternal life. We deserved permanent deportation. We receive permanent adoption into His family: a seat at His table like sons and daughters.

Folks, we have to purge ourselves of sin. We have to get rid of our idols.

What are we worshiping other than Christ? What consumes our time, our thoughts, and our energy? What occupies the space only Jesus should in our lives, the space in our minds, the thinking, the thoughts, the energy? Is it fear, is it anxiety? Is it work? Money? Is it family?

I’ll end with Titus 2:11-14. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age. While we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself of people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”

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