The Fall of Israel
Open Your Bible
2 Kings 16:1-20, 2 Kings 17:1-41, Proverbs 29:2, 1 Peter 2:21-25
My first year of college I was blessed with a Southern roommate. We became the best of friends, but it wasn’t without some cultural clashes. One such example was when we stayed up late into the night debating the value of grits versus oatmeal, to the dismay of our third roommate. That year, I visited my friend’s childhood home over Thanksgiving break, and that is when my Yankee eyes were truly opened to the strong influences of the South. Surrounded by sweet tea, I found myself effortlessly adopting a phrase I’d sworn off completely: “y’all.” Not two weeks earlier, I’d argued, “It’s not even a real word!” Yet there I was, sounding as if I’d always been a Southern belle.
It’s a silly example of a larger principle. If we’re not careful, we can easily change our beliefs to fit our surroundings. This was certainly true for the Israelites. God established His covenant with them and taught them the right way to live, but they adopted the false gods of the nations they had defeated. They worshiped the idols around them even though they knew the one true God. The Lord warned them to turn back to Him through “every prophet and every seer” but they would not listen (2 Kings 17:13). And ultimately, God allowed them to become captives so they could realize their captivity.
There is a warning for us in this story—the question is whether or not we will heed it. We are all aware that today’s culture worships many idols: from financial status to career achievement, personal beauty to perfect-looking families. These things become idols when we bow down to them in worship. When we hang our happiness on their outcomes instead of turning to God for true joy.
If we’re really honest with ourselves, I’m guessing every one of us will find we struggle with some idol or another. None of us are perfect, and by the blood of Jesus, there is grace for that. But what should really scare us is that we so easily make the same mistakes Israel once made, when they “followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves” (2 Kings 17:15).
If we get so wrapped up in chasing the American Dream or building our social media platforms, we might look up one day and realize we’ve wasted our lives. We might find that we were only giving lip service to God, while giving actual power to much lesser things. Although the false gods of our culture don’t have literal golden shrines, they are very real and very seductive. And like Israel, we are at risk of ignoring the warning and willingly enslaving ourselves to idols that will never satisfy.
Let’s not wait for the Lord to issue us a painful wakeup call before we turn back to Him. Let’s not waste weeks, months, or even years of our lives chasing idols that leave us wanting. Instead, may we listen to the warning from our God and direct our worship to Him. He alone can satisfy. He alone is good. “Let anyone who has ears listen” (Matthew 11:15).