Holy Spirit, reveal to me where I might be drifting so that I may return to You with all my heart.
Read 2 Kings 17:1–23
Hoshea Last King of Israel
17 In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him.
3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up to attack Hoshea, who had been Shalmaneser’s vassal and had paid him tribute. 4 But the king of Assyria discovered that Hoshea was a traitor, for he had sent envoys to So[a] king of Egypt, and he no longer paid tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore Shalmaneser seized him and put him in prison. 5 The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes.
Israel Exiled Because of Sin
7 All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods 8 and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. 10 They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 11 At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that aroused the Lord’s anger. 12 They worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not do this.”[b] 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.”
14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”
16 They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal. 17 They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.
18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, 19 and even Judah did not keep the commands of the Lord their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. 20 Therefore the Lord rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.
21 When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the Lord and caused them to commit a great sin. 22 The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them 23 until the Lord removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there.
a 2 Kings 17:4 So is probably an abbreviation for Osorkon.
b 2 Kings 17:12 Exodus 20:4,5
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhat are some of the world’s methods that might be a counterfeit of godly worship?
The writer of 2 Kings is a spiritual historian, tracking the spiritual health and decline of Israel and Judah and linking their spiritual faithlessness to the political events that led to the exile 7,18–20,22–23).
This historian points out in no uncertain terms that it was the people, not God, who broke the covenant. Their spiritual drifting began secretly (9), worshipping God the way they saw fit and not the way God had commanded. Ignoring God’s commands (15) and copying the surrounding culture was a slippery slope that led to idol worship (10,12,16) and wickedness (17). What about us? Are we drifting from God’s commands? Does the church blend in to secular culture, or do we stand out? Being relevant to our culture without embracing its godless philosophies and practices is a fine and tricky line to tread.
The new covenant that God has made with us, through Christ, is far greater and more precious than the old covenant. Hebrews 2:1–3 urges us to “pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”
Is the way you worship God according to his directions in Scripture? Are there ways you have blended worship and worldly culture? Ask God to purify your heart today as you worship him.
God, help me to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. I will fix my eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:1,2).