“Teach me Your way, Lord, that I may rely on Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name” (Psa. 86:11).
Read 2 Kings 17:24–41
24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. 25 When they first lived there, they did not worship the Lord; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. 26 It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.”
27 Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” 28 So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord.
29 Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. 30 The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. 33 They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.
34 To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. 37 You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”
40 They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. 41 Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIs God an “add-on” to your life?
The Assyrian empire operated a ruthless divide and rule policy to prevent revolt: anyone left alive was deported from their own lands, separated into smaller groups and settled elsewhere. As the defeated Israelites were marched off to the far reaches of the Assyrian empire (Deut. 28:36), other defeated tribes were brought into Israel (24; Deut. 28:33).
In an unexpected twist based on a belief in territorial gods, a priest was sent to teach these Gentile tribes God’s ways (28). But instead of obeying God’s first commandment (Exod. 20:1–6), the Gentile tribes added God to their pantheon (32,33). They were no different from the Jews—they worshipped God in a way that suited them. May God never be an “add-on” to our lives! He is either all to us or he is nothing to us.
The writer of 2 Kings understood that anyone living in God’s land should worship only him (34). Psalm 24:1 spreads the net much wider. Since “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it,” all people should worship God alone.
Let’s prayerfully consider whether we have added on idols that divert us from our heavenly Father. How might you refocus your gaze on God alone?
Lord, be my One and Only.