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 – 2Kgs. 17:7 NIV
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Today’s Devotional is the last part of the Devotional with the same title where discussions on the reasons for Jehovah rejecting the people of the Northern Kingdom began. Focus was on their act of worshipping other gods and following the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that successive kings of Israel had introduced – 2Kgs. 17:8. Their decision to secretly do things that were not right against the Lord their God was also discussed extensively in the second part, some of which included the building of high places in all their towns, setting up of sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree, and the burning of incense on every high place, like the nations whom the Lord had driven out before them had done.
They were also involved in wicked acts that aroused the Lord’s anger. Three of those wicked acts were discussed in the last Devotional and summarised as follows:
- Firstly, they worshiped idols, though the Lord had said, “You shall not worship idols.” – 2Kgs. 17:12-14.
- Secondly, they rejected the decrees and the covenant that Jehovah had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep – 2Kgs. 17:15a.
- Thirdly, they followed worthless idols and so became worthless – 2Kgs. 17:15b.
The Devotional today continues to identify some of the other wicked acts that got Jehovah upset and which some Christians today are still involved with and are as follows;
- They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.” – 2Kgs. 17:15c. Christians must always retain their identity and relationship with Jehovah, irrespective of how attractive, what fellow brethren or worshippers of other gods may be having or seem to be enjoying. Desiring to be like others has always been one of the major reasons why people lose their relationship with Jehovah – 1Sam. 8:5-6. Even amongst fellow Christian brethren, Jehovah has different plans for every individual or group and all should be contented with what He has allocated and so should avoid covetousness – Exo. 20:17. Not being contented is an indirect way of accusing Jehovah of being partial, in the case of fellow Christians, or incapable in the case of those who are worshipping other gods. Jehovah always has good thoughts for his people and though it may not always seem that way, it remains the truth – Jer. 29:11. His plan is not just to grant any type of success, but the kind of success that will be devoid of any negatives or encumbrances. Other gods may seem to provide for their adherents faster than Jehovah will do, but His blessings come without sorrow – Prov. 10:22. Not trusting Him to do more than any other will do, is wickedness and such an individual should not expect Him to help straighten the rough areas of life – Prov. 3:5-6; Heb. 11:6.
- 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 – 2Kgs. 17:16. Idolatry has always been a major challenge to the relationship of the Christian with Jehovah. This mostly results from the tendency of man to believe more in what is seen than what is unseen. The Apostle Paul in his advise to the Corinthians actually made it clear that the good Christian will live by Faith and not by sight – 2Cor. 5:7. Jehovah may not be visible but all His works are manifest for all to see and that should be sufficient to keep a true believer standing – Psa. 19:1-6. Waiting to see before believing cannot produce divine blessing for anyone as Jesus Christ made it clear that blessing is for those who did not see but believed – Jn. 20:29. That Jehovah will not entertain idolatry is not ambiguous as He clearly stated it in His instructions to Moses – Exo. 20:4-6. Whoever goes ahead to become idolatrous, consciously or unconsciously, is thus triggering His anger, and it will always be a matter of time before He reacts accordingly.
- They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire – 2Kgs. 17:17. The Christian today may not be sacrificing their children physically but there is no doubt that the desperation to succeed by all means has been on the upward gear for a while. Many would not mind who or what is sacrificed, and that includes divine laws and instructions, because of their desperate appetite for what they term success. No wonder there are so many “living dead” people today whose career and destiny has been sacrificed on the Altar of someone else’s so called progress and success. Christians need to avoid desperation in whatever form as it can easily blind them from morality. No one who is desperate can be moralistic and such cannot be in a good relationship with Jehovah. Yes! You did not spill that blood but you destroyed that destiny because you were desperately pursuing that your ambition. It is always going to be a question of time before Jehovah appears in your situation, as the enemy that you have made Him become.
- They practiced divination, sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord , arousing his anger – 2Kgs. 17:17b. That many people in the name of wanting to know Jehovah better or improve on their spirituality have gone astray is not arguable, as they have gone ahead to get involved in activities that further separate them, sometimes unknowingly, from Jehovah. Many today are under the bondage of negative powers that have deceitfully presented as powers of God (Acts 8:9-10), and in such situation, all they should expect is the anger of Jehovah at some stage of their lives. No wonder the disciple John advised that no spirit should be believed until it has been tested and proven to be of Jehovah – 1Jn. 4:1-3. The one who falls a victim of these deceptive spirits will only have self to blame as such cannot claim ignorance of the presence of these deceptive spirits and the advise to be aware of them. Some people are actually aware but because of the temporal advantage that they enjoy by following such spirits, they choose to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye. Such should however not complain when Jehovah comes with His reward as He will definitely do.
In summary, the Israelites, yes the same group of people on whose behalf Jehovah fought all those battles and wrought all those miracles were taken to captivity in exile because God was tired of their unfaithfulness, so you cannot be bigger than such reaction from Him. You may be in one form of captivity or be in some form of exile situation at the moment and all you have decided to see are all those human enemies that have kept you down and decided to oppress you. You may be right though, but start the inquest from yourself by weighing your life activities against all the points listed above and possibly more that Jehovah will be willing to let you know, if only you decide to be humble. You may just discover that the real enemy is Jehovah Himself, reacting to all those disregard, disrespect and wickedness that you have inflicted on Him.
You may however not be having a taste of His anger yet, but that may just be the reason why you should quickly adjust your ways as He will not be patient forever. He is not slack in His judgement but is only hoping that you will change your ways as He does not want the destruction of anyone – 2Pet. 3:9-11; Eze. 33:11. Know this for sure, that if he could reject the Israelites, on whom he had invested so much, then He can also reject you. Avoid all those actions and you can be assured of His favour in this realm and in the life after life. May that be our testimony in Jesus name. Amen.