They Would Not Listen.
“But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God.” – 2 Kings 17:14 NLT
The 17th chapter of 2 Kings contains a summary of all that had happened to the nation of Israel since the split of the kingdom after Solomon’s reign. It covers the time all the way up to the defeat of the northern kingdom by Assyria and their deportation. And it sums up their circumstances quite succinctly. They refused to listen to God. They refused to obey God. They refused to believe God. They rejected His commands and despised all His warnings of coming judgment. Instead of worshiping God, they worshiped worthless idols – man-made creations that could do nothing for them. They were the chosen people of God who refused to believe in and trust God. So their fate was sealed. Their destiny was determined by their callous treatment of God.
How many lessons are there in these passages for us to learn? Or will we simply look at the people of Israel, shake our heads, and wonder how they could have turned their backs on God so easily? The truth is, we treat God with the same degree of disrespect and disbelief every day. We doubt His Word. We disobey His commands. We turn to other gods instead of Him. We place our trust in other things besides Him. We regularly show Him disrespect, stubbornly resisting His will because we think we know better. Like the Israelites, we can become cocky and complacent, resting on our relationship as His children, confident that we are safe because we are saved. We have our ticket stamped and our place in His kingdom secured, so we think we can make our obedience optional. We treat His grace, mercy and forgiveness flippantly, living lives of our own choosing, highly confident that He loves us and would never forsake us. And He does and He won’t. But that does not mean God will not discipline us. He loves us too much to allow us to live in disobedience. He cares too much for us to allow us to live in disbelief and indifference to His revealed will. We are His representatives on this planet. We are His hands and feet. We are to be a living testimony of His power to the lost world around us. When we claim the name of Christ, but live in disobedience to God, we mock the very name of God and take the sacrifice of Christ’s death lightly. Like Ahaz, we can make the worship of God all about us. Ahaz took the bronze altar from the Temple and began to use it for His own personal worship. He replaced God’s will with his own. He made worship all about him and not about God. Worship became a tool to get what he wanted. It self-focused, rather than God-focused. And we run the same risk today. When we begin to care more about what we want than what God wants, we are headed for trouble. When we begin to listen to our own desires instead of God’s commands, we are on shaky ground. When we doubt God but trust in ourselves, we can and should expect the discipline of God. He loves us, but He will not allow us to dishonor His name and disrespect His will. God will not be mocked. He is calling us to obey Him. Not so He will love us more, but out of love for all He has done for us. He is calling us to honor Him with our actions, not so He will be impressed with our obedience, but as proof of our belief in Him. Are you listening? Do you hear Him? Will you obey Him?
Father, sometimes we are hard of hearing. You are speaking to us through Your Word, but we refuse to listen. We hear, but we don’t want to obey. We think our way is better. We think our will is more important than Yours. Open our ears and help us hear, but also give us the determination to obey You. You know best. You have our best interest at heart. May we trust You more and more. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men