2 Kings 17:1-28; Acts 20:1-15; Psalms 148:5-14; Proverbs 30:32
OT: “This disaster happened because the people of Israel sinned against the Lord their God who had brought them out of the land of Egypt from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt and because they worshiped other gods. They lived according to the customs of the nations that the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites and according to what the kings of Israel did… They served idols, although the Lord had told them, “You must not do this.” Still, the Lord warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commands and statutes according to the whole law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen. Instead they became obstinate like their ancestors who did not believe the Lord their God. They rejected his statutes and his covenant he had made with their ancestors and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves, following the surrounding nations the Lord had commanded them not to imitate… Therefore, the Lord was very angry with Israel, and he removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained.” (2 Kings 17:7-8, 12-15, 18 CSB)
During the reign of King Hoshea of Israel, the King of Assyria captured Samaria and deported all of the Israelites to Assyria. The book of 2 Kings was written to explain how God’s chosen nation… the nation that He powerfully delivered from Egypt, ended up in captivity again. This passage explains the reason very clearly. God’s people compromised their holiness and lived according to the customs of the nations they were to conquer. They rejected the worship of God and turned instead to worship idols. Instead of obeying the word, will, and ways of the Lord, they became obstinate and rejected His statutes. Over and over, God warned his people through the voices of His prophets, and over and over, they ignored His words. Finally God had no choice but to remove His hand of grace and give Israel over to the consequences of their sinful choices. As I read this, I wondered if what we have experienced in 2020 has anything to do with the way God’s people have compromised their holiness and calling to live according to the customs of the prevalent culture. Was 2020 an attempt to call the Lord’s people back to Himself and His word, will, and ways? Was 2020 a harbinger of things to come if we do not repent and return to our First Love? As we near the end of the year, let us not fail to learn the lessons and heed the warnings. Let us not repeat the folly of the nation of Israel, but instead, humble ourselves and seek the face of the Lord once again.
Psalms: “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded, and they were created. He set them in position forever and ever; he gave an order that will never pass away… Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted. His majesty covers heaven and earth. He has raised up a horn for his people, resulting in praise to all his faithful ones, to the Israelites, the people close to him. Hallelujah!” (Psalms 148:5-6, 13-14 CSB)
This psalm calls all of creation to praise the Lord, for all of creation (humanity included) was created and set in order by the power and authority of His word. A horn is a symbol of strength. When God’s people praise Him, He endows His people with strength. He blesses them and graces them, which is quite the opposite of what happened to the northern kingdom of Israel. We can place our trust in idols, in politics, in economic prosperity, etc. and be given over to the futility of our own devices – or we can give honor and praise to the Lord our God and creator, and be blessed and graced with strength.