It amazed at how current the Bible is. Its ancient tongue rings as true today as it did back then. Only a little substitution of the names of ancient cities with present day ones, a switching of “thy” & “thou” for “you” and “your”, and the Bible begins to read like a testimony of today.
2 Kings 17:24-41 (sadly) is a perfect retelling (or foretelling) of what modern Christianity looks like. The Israelites have allowed the leaven of the Gentiles to infiltrate their hearts toward God. The verses before tell how they’ve gone after the ways of Jeroboam, the evil king who led them in heinous sinful practices. Because they haven’t listen to God’s voice, they are forced to experience His judgment…they’re exiled in great numbers into the land of Assyria.
Samaria is now practically desolate. The King of Assyria has to repopulate with peoples from Babylon, Cuth, Hamath, & Sepharvaim. Now marks the beginning of their Samaritan nationality. They don’t know the God of the land. They come in with their own gods & worship rituals/traditions and because the Most High God isn’t pleased with this, He sends in lions to devour many of the people.
Either through discernment given directly to the people, or by word from the remaining children of Israel, they learn that the lions are attacking because of their idolatrous practices. They send word to the King to send a priest to come teach them the ways of the God of the land.
The Scripture reads in Verse 28: Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. Verse 33: They feared the Lord and served their own gods after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from.
It’s the same way for us really…Believers, I mean. We come directly from a habitual nation of serving other gods into the Kingdom of God when we accept Christ as our Savior. And voila! We’re new residents, new creatures in Christ. Our spirits are instantly made new, but what about our minds? Our habits? Even the company we keep? We generally get saved alone so what happens when we leave the old land for the new land still in the presence of the old people?
We may submit to a pastor, teacher, or Holy Spirit led individual study. Hopefully, we’re in a good pasture and, like the repopulated Samaritans, are taught how we should fear the Lord. Taught about His Word, His ways, and His wisdom. Enlightened of the practices God finds pleasing.
But what about those ‘other gods’ we hold onto? Known or unknown to us, God says they’re there. I wouldn’t have gone so far as to call emotions like bitterness, unforgiveness, and fear gods…but in Verse 30, the god Ashima made by the people of Hamath is translated in the Hebrew language as ‘guiltiness’. Isn’t that an emotion?
What about how we have a tendency to serve others as god in our lives? That may be hard to accept but we were Made to serve, and so we do. Before we came to God in Christ, we were serving something…and so often that something was someone. When we let the needs, emotions, desires, and/or opinions of a parent, spouse, sibling, boss, friend, colleague, child, or anybody else lead our way, box us in, we serve them as a god.
The people of Cuth made a god called Nergal. The translation of Nergal is heros. And, oh, what a mighty little ‘g’ god this remains to be today. The dictionary on my MAC computer says that hero/heroine is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. In typing the word “heroine” I thought of the word ‘heroin’…..so addicted we are to heros. Celebrities, and public figures, and political figures, and….well the list goes on. We jump from one bandwagon to the next, from one ‘it’ person to the next. Attention is worship. So careful we must be.
And then there’s the gods of our senses, of our bodies and desires. Sex, drugs, food, attention, how we project to others or how we are seen. The latter two may not seem to go with the former three but they, and others of this sort, do. There’s an element of personal control & manipulation to these. They’re often manifested as the fruit of a rebellious spirit because here, the individual isn’t ‘controlled’ so much as it may feel to them… they feel as if they’re making their own decisions to ‘have’ and to ‘be’. This isn’t the case though. The rebellion itself becomes the one in control until the person eventually finds themselves unable to stop. Emotional addictions/dysfunctions are always the preceding step to physical ones.
Anyway, I was so struck by the text in 2 Kings 17:24-41 because it’s so indicative of what’s going on today in the Body of Christ. Verse 41 reads: So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
And so do we…. We get just enough of God to stop the lion of hell from dragging us down to the pit. Then we go right on mixing our fear of God with our continued worship of prior habits and traditions. But Jesus commanded us to love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, mind, and soul. There isn’t any room for other gods when God has ALL our hearts.
And what a difficult commandment to keep! We have so many past experiences, so many heart issues, aches, and pains we came into the New Land of Belief in Christ carrying in our hearts, minds, and on our backs. How do we put them down? How do we possibly put these gods out of our mental/emotional temples?
Well, we have something the people of this text didn’t: Jesus Christ, Who prays on our behalf, interceding always. He taught us we’re forgiven by God for our sins. Even those we commit RIGHT NOW are covered…separated from us as far from us as the east is from the west.
But there’s a work we have to do. And it’s as simple as asking Him to reveal the places in our hearts and lives where the lesser gods still reign. Being willing to be real before our God about it all. No shame. No guilt: no more serving Ashima, the people of Hamath’s god. We are safe to confess to God the ugliness of our past & of our existence. We’re empowered to reject the lies religion has told us that God is gonna get us, strike us down, turn His back on us in disgust…
He won’t. He can’t. It’s not His Nature… He loves us. He loves you…perfectly, wholly, in Divine righteousness.
We are set free, made whole in the spirit by the Spirit of our Holy God. Let’s let it be so… Let’s let it all go, all for Him…all but Him, in Jesus Name, Amen.