Today’s Reading: 2 Kings 10-17; 2 Chronicles 23-26; Psalm 78
For he divided the sea and led them through, making the water stand up like walls!
In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and all night by a pillar of fire.
He split open rocks in the wilderness to give them water, as from a gushing spring.
He made streams pour from the rock, making the waters flow down like a river.
Yet they kept sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert…
Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him…
When God began killing them, they finally sought him.
They repented and took God seriously.
Then they remembered that God was their rock,
that God Most High was their redeemer.
But all they gave him was lip service; they lied to him with their tongues.
Their hearts were not loyal to him.
They did not keep his covenant
Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins and did not destroy them all…
Again and again they tested God’s patience… – Psalm 78:13-17a,32b,34-38a,41a
Have you ever known someone you would quickly describe as “fickle”? Do you have a friend, coworker or family member who is quick to change their loyalty, affection or interest? It is difficult to keep up with fickle friends. They speak and live one way today, and seem like a different person wanting different things out of life tomorrow.
The history of God’s people at this time displays their fickle hearts. They would worship God for a time and then go back to their selfish, evil ways. They would turn their hearts to God but not wholeheartedly. They would keep things in their life that would cause them to be distracted and disloyal. This pattern led to the eventual decline and exile of the people of Israel, as well as the destruction of Jerusalem.
Elisha sent a young prophet to anoint Jehu the next king of Israel. The call God had on Jehu’s life was to destroy the family of Ahab. Jehu accomplished what God had commanded him to do, also destroying every trace of Baal worship from Israel, but he did not destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan.
Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with ALL his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit (2 Kings 10:31).
King Jehoahaz did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and experienced the result of God’s anger. He prayed for the Lord’s help and the Lord heard his prayer. The Lord rescued Israel from their enemies and allowed them to live in peace again. BUT they continued to sin during the reign of King Jehoahaz and the next king – Jehoash. So God allowed the king of Aram to oppress Israel.
But the Lord was gracious and merciful to the people of Israel, and they were not totally destroyed. He pitied them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (2 Kings 13:23).
It was during the reign of King Jehoahaz that Israel and Judah once again went to battle against each other – brother against brother. After his death, King Jehoahaz’s son, Jeroboam II, ruled over Israel and King Amaziah’s 16-year-old son, Uzziah, ruled over Judah. Jeroboam II did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord (14:24), but Uzziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. Well, almost. Uzziah did not destroy ALL the pagan shrines, leaving opportunity for the nation to once more sin against God (15:4).
The pattern of unfaithfulness in Israel:
Zechariah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, refusing to turn away from sin.
Shallum became the next king of Israel until he was assassinated by Menahem, who also did what was evil in the Lord’s sight.
His son, Pekahiah, followed in his father’s evil footsteps and was assassinated by the son of the Commander of his army, Pekah.
Pekah reigned for 20 years, until he was assassinated by Hoshea, who reigned for nine years until he was captured and imprisoned by the king of Assyria.
This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharoah, the king of Egypt…The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God…Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings.
Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah…But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised al his warnings. They worship worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves (2 Kings 17:7-15).
Because of their idolatry and rejection of God’s covenant, the Lord swept them away from his presence. He punished them by handing them over to their enemies, banishing Israel from the presence of the Lord. So Israel was exiled from the Promised Land to the land of Assyria (17:23).
God made it clear generation after generation – “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. But worship only the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone and offer sacrifices only to him. Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” – 2 Kings 17:35b-39
Lord, would you please reveal anything I have kept in my life that is becoming a distraction from serving you with my whole heart? Shine your light on any traces of disloyalty or fickleness in my life. Fill my heart with the strong desire to obey and serve you wholeheartedly. Reveal anything in my life today that has taken priority over my covenant relationship with you.
Lord, I long to serve you with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength and with all my mind. I long to dwell in your presence and worship you – the God who has brought me out of my Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Today, I choose to worship you and only you! I want to be faithful, not fickle. Amen.