Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 11 June 21:
2 Kings 17:41 – “So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.”
2 Kings 17 recounts the fall of Israel, explaining why Israel fell – “this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God… and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.” (2 Kings 17:7, 8) “Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced.” (2 Kings 17:19)
For political and civic reasons, the kings of Assyria attempted to sponsor renewed worship of God, redeploying priests to teach the law of God in the land. However, what resulted was the same polluted religion and idolatry that God rejected in the first place – the blending of beliefs or syncretism. Essentially, the people sought to worship God and also the idols of their society. “To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the Lord….” (2 Kings 17:34)
- Romans 15:4 — For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction….
Unfortunately, the compromise of syncretism (the blending of different religions and cultures) impacts the church today too, rendering our Old Testament readings very relevant to today —
When the church or God’s people adopt the beliefs, ways, practices, customs, and rules of the world, the salt loses is saltiness and the light is dimmed, allowing darkness to grow. A compromised church destroys nations more than corrupt political leaders. Compromise starts when God’s people place self before God and seek to build for themselves little kingdoms rather than seeking the Kingdom of God, living by the motto “My will be done..,” rather than, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Then, they partner with other would-be kings around them in order to get along. They build metaphorical towers of Babel and celebrate their unity in self-fulfillment and self-made prosperity. Before long, agreeing with man becomes more important than agreeing with God, and further compromise ensues. When the fear of man replaces the fear of God individually and corporately, destruction is inevitable.
If the world is growing darker, it is because the light is growing dimmer. The problem is not “them,” it is “us.” As the church goes, so goes the nation. Rather than cursing the darkness, turn up the light. Pray for corporate repentance and revival within the church. Corporate repentance starts with individual repentance. Where might you have compromised your faith? Have you dimmed your light in order to get along with those who prefer the darkness?
- Matthew 6:24 — “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
- Luke 11:23 — “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
- Revelation 3:16 — “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
“…and they served idols….” (2 Kings 17:12) Idols are not just little statues representing fake gods. An idol is anything that takes priority in a person’s life over God. Few people in America today worship statues, but nonetheless this generation is just as idolatrous as previous generations. 1 Samuel 15:23 and Colossians 3:5 add to our understanding of idolatry – “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23) “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) Many Christians are blind to their idolatry which is primarily a worship of self — putting self ahead of God and above others, rejecting the Great Commandment of love. Jesus said that the first step to truly following Him is denying self, putting God and others above self, regardless the personal cost (taking up the Cross), and following Him. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
2 Kings 18:5 — “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him.”
Hezekiah was different. Hezekiah stood alone in his uncompromised faith (at least for awhile). The Bible says that he was surrounded by people who claimed faith in God, but they did not “fear the Lord” enough to honor and serve Him faithfully. (2 Kings 17:34-41) They had a half faith which is really no faith at all, unacceptable before the Lord. Consequently, when crisis came, their false faith failed them, and they lived in subjugation. If you are truly walking with God, very few will be walking with you. If you find yourself in the crowd, you had better take pause. Are you willing to walk on the narrow path with Jesus in this world?
In today’s readings, Hezekiah’s faith is put to the ultimate test as the undefeated mighty king Sennacherib besieges Jerusalem. Consider the situation — Sennacherib has already defeated Israel and has taken possession of Samaria, and he has already defeated and taken all the fortified cities of Judah. Now Sennacherib has surrounded Jerusalem and is claiming that, in fact, he is acting on behalf of God and that he holds the power of life and death, blessings and curses. (Hezekiah 18:25) Is your faith strong enough to withstand today’s challenges, particularly from those who profess faith themselves?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 June 21: Today, pray for God to reveal areas of compromise in your life, and pray for the Lord’s help in removing them.