Further Attempts at Reform
Open Your Bible
2 Kings 11:1-20, 2 Kings 12:1-21, 2 Kings 13:1-25, Psalm 125:1-5
Yes! The Israelites finally figured it out! God’s people are finally back in step with Him, and everything looks so promising (2 Kings 11:17). No more altars to worship Baal, no more Jezebel. Instead, a king has been appointed who will listen to instruction from the Lord’s priest. Israel has changed its ways!
We long for the complete demolishing of idolatry to be true in our own lives. Our very spirits grieve knowing that we were created for perfect unity with God, yet our sinfulness continually gets in the way. Like us, Israel doesn’t keep it together for long. “Throughout the time the priest Johoiada instructed him, Joash did what was right in the LORD’s sight. Yet the high places were not taken away; the people continued sacrificing and burning incense on the high places” (2 Kings 12:2–3). God’s people held on to just a few of their old ways. The Israelites wanted to serve God, but they wouldn’t do it fully. Old cultural habits would seep in and distract them and pull them away from worshiping the one true God.
At the onset, it’s tempting to judge the Israelites for their failures. We can look back and see all the ways God has proven Himself faithful. We see all the times they were warned about coming judgment and consequences, and we stand shocked at their perpetual disobedience. But are we really so different from them?
If I’m honest, sometimes I like a side dish of God while I leave the main course of my life to idol worship. I give my main allegiance to the high places I build up to worship such things as physical attractiveness, success, health, comfort, control, security, money. My altars may look different, but they still push God to the side. Still, God is faithful, even when I am not.
God never left Israel. Through all their division, defiance, and death, God always stayed true. He didn’t give up on them, and He will never give up on us. Despite their philandering hearts, “the LORD was gracious to them, had compassion on them, and turned toward them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was not willing to destroy them. Even now he has not banished them from his presence” (2 Kings 13:23).
At times we may become discouraged—sad that our world, our culture, our church, our neighborhood, or our school will never get it “right.” This sadness is right and good, because in our sorrow, we are agreeing with God that all is not as it should be. God knows this world is broken, and He knows us inside and out. He still loves us and always will. He pursues us with relentless passion. It is because of God’s determinate love that we have unstoppable hope. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken” (Psalm 125:1). Yes, we should be diligent in tearing down any altars that threaten to lure our affection away from Christ—they all have to go—but our ability to trust in the Lord is sustained by Him alone. God’s story for Israel does not end in 2 Kings. It is only a part of God’s eternal love story with His people.