I have been reading 2 Kings this week. Even if you have never read the book, the title gives away that the book is filled with stories about kings. But more than that, it is also filled with stories about the sins of kings and the people they ruled. So much so that by the time you get to 2 Kings 17, the northern tribes of Israel are taken into captivity by Assyria because of Israel’s idolatry. The Assyrians move their people into Israel, creating what we would know as the Samaritans. Those people brought with them their gods and theological beliefs, but because of God’s hand of judgment, the Assyrians brought one Jewish priest to teach the people about God. 2 Kings 17:33 offers an assessment of how that went: So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.
The combination was not good. One commentator described it as only creating confusion. I was grabbed by both the idea of confusion and the words in verse 33. If we put something on the same level as God, our confusion will soon lead to disaster. Israel was taken into exile because of idolatry and a version of idolatry is what is being described in verse 33. That was bad for the Samaritans, but it should have been a wake-up call for Judah. But they ignored it. Which makes me pause and ask, “it offers us a wake-up call, are we waking up to it?” My time in 2 Kings is challenging me to ask if things are competing with God or if am I putting things on the same level as God. To tie to our message series on going the distance, my answers to those questions will have a huge bearing on my ability to go the distance. Please join me in asking yourself those same questions. If things are competing with God in our lives, we are setting ourselves up for an exilic kind of life. We do not want to go there.