God’s Word is literally a never-ending subject designed to perform a vast array of functions. Ultimately it’s THE unique love letter from the Creator and Savior Jesus Christ, who is by no coincidence called the Word of God. John 1:1. It is the only pure and sufficiently perfect revelation of God to mankind and is filled with eternal instruction for righteousness. It is the true and complete map leading every humble seeking sinner to the Righteous One- Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy, the Lord, through Paul, also reminds us that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Word of God is most definitely and eternally profitable, but it is also most assuredly practical!
One of the very practical purposes it serves is to remind mankind that there really is nothing new under the sun. God’s Word is a historical reminder of His love and justice, mankind’s arrogance and pride, and Satan’s repeated attempts to kill, steal, and destroy. This historical and prophetic record we call the Bible is a very practical guide, revealing past and future accounts all for our benefit. The Holy Spirit reminds us in Romans 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” God went to great lengths to not only preserve His Word but also to make sure certain historical events were meticulously recorded. And since it is God who inspired the men who wrote His Word, not only are the events revealed accurately, but also those unseen areas, the intentions of men’s hearts. May we take careful heed to what has been recorded and preserved for every generation!
The Old Testament is filled with Israel’s choices, both godly and ungodly. Sadly, many were the latter. Their decisions, though, serve two very important purposes for us today. First, they remind us that godly choices always lead to a beautiful walk with the Lord. Second, they remind us that ungodly choices are deceptive and common to every generation, even in our’s today.
After reading through 2 Kings 17 the last few days, I couldn’t help but think of the constant barrage of today’s false doctrines, namely the purpose driven and emergent teachings not only infiltrating churches but being warmly embraced and taught, all in the name of the Lord. It seems just as Israel had sought out so many false doctrines from the world around them, fearing men instead of God, so the same is being repeated today. Perhaps a bit repackaged, Satan’s strategies are actually all too familiar, promising something new, but in the end always leading men further and further into darkness.
I’ve chosen to include a few comments below in brackets. Just a disclaimer and loving reminder- the comments are not inspired. May we truly take heed of God’s Word, letting it thoroughly transform and renew us, bringing eternal patience and comfort, all for our hope and His glory!
2 Kings 17:7-17
- 7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
[God brought His people out of Egypt, never desiring to lead them back. Egypt serves as a continual and clear example of man’s empty and dangerous philosophies and methodologies, teachings derived many times from sorcery and other occult practices. Exodus 7:11; 2 Timothy 3:8.]
- 8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
[Not only did they fear other gods, the gods the Lord cast out, they also walked in the statutes or philosophies of the heathen. Today it’s even easier for professing saints and true believers to pick up the latest psychology and church growth books without even “walking” anywhere. Now we can simply google the information in our own homes.]
- 9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
[Even though their false deeds were done in secret, they weren’t hidden from God. The Lord knew what was going on. Also, it’s more than a bit ironic that the people built high places starting with the tower of the watchmen.]
- 10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
- 11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
[This generation wasn’t the first to provoke the Lord to anger. May we consider carefully our actions against our loving God, never provoking Him to anger! Let us not forget that one of God’s names is Jealous. Exodus 34:4.]
- 12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
[God spoke plainly. No means no, no matter what a relativistic society says. God was not merely addressing a belief system or He would have said, “Ye shall not believe these things.” God is clear. Whatever one believes will be practiced. It’s not enough to just say we don’t believe something. We must also stop doing those things as well. May we seek the Lord in giving us the power to overcome those areas that hold us close to this world.]
- 13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
[Be encouraged, in every generation, there are always a few willing to speak God’s Word. May we choose to be among the minority desiring to earnestly stand upon the Rock, boldly and faithfully proclaiming His truth, not willing to embrace this world’s evils.]
- 14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
[It was their desire, not God’s, to harden their necks. A stiff neck is very painful, preventing a man from ever looking up.]
- 15 And they rejected His statutes, and His covenant that He made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.
[This one verse speaks of God 6 times, 5 in pronoun form, all pointing to God’s strong desire to be faithful, just, and true with Israel. Yet despite the Lord’s pursuing love, they chose to follow after vanity, which ultimately led to becoming altogether vain. We’ve all heard it said you are what you eat. A true saying from 2 Kings 17:15 would be, “You become what (or who) you follow.” As men followed after vanity they became vain. Just like Adam and Eve’s desire for knowledge apart from God, Israel diligently sought the God-hating, idol worshiping nations around them for earthly wisdom and methods to conduct both their lives and the nation as a whole. This verse speaks loudly of the dangerous potential of every unchecked heart, even of those born again. The vain doctrines of Satan have been passed along to foolish unbelievers seeking ungodly knowledge, power, glory, and honor. Sadly, many of these doctrines have been embraced and even taught in today’s professing church. Today’s relativistic, sight-walking emergent church movement is a prime example. Despite the many clear warnings from Scripture not to run after the world’s teachings, the emergent movement has willingly become a mixture of New Age philosophies and Catholicism wrapped in church growth methodologies. Just as Israel ran after other methods and doctrines, so the warning from God for our generation stands- “We should not do like them.”]
- 16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
[They didn’t leave some of God’s commandments, but all. To run after the world, one must turn his back altogether on God and His Word.]
- 17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
[Many of the false doctrines of witchcraft have been deceptively introduced into the professing church through the idea of methodology. Yoga isn’t a form of occultism. Rather it is now simply a method for centering one’s mind to know God better. Vain, repetitious prayers are nothing more than methods for helping one be still and know God. On and on go the lies. Yoga isn’t just a neutral method. It is a Hinduistic practice centered around worshiping many of their false gods, serving as a means to attain freedom from the wheel of reincarnation. And although vain, repetition prayers are strictly forbidden by Jesus in the Bible (Matthew 6:7), many of those in emergent churches, and even other churches, have begun practicing and teaching people this awful doctrine rooted in Eastern mysticism.]
2 Kings 17:20-29
- 20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight.
[Praise God for His correction. God does not behave like many of today’s parents. He didn’t just turn a blind eye on Israel’s actions, rather He lovingly and justly corrected them. Even though Israel was disobedient, God promised Abraham that He would preserve Israel. Just like them, all who have been truly born again can rest assured, confident in the faithfulness of God. He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him. We have the Holy Spirit in us as a deposit, sealing us to the day of redemption (2 Corinthians 1:22). Although we stumble, we can have confidence that He who began a good work in us will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6. God’s Word of course will by no means serve as a cloak for those false prophets who are deceiving and being deceived. Nothing is hid from God. May we carefully examine ourselves to be sure we are truly in the faith, to be sure we truly understand the grace of God. 2 Corinthians 13:5.]
- 21 For He rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king: and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.
[Here is a perfect example of a people driven from following the Lord. The flock of God ought never be “driven”, rather a good shepherd leads the sheep. As examples of Christ, we should first be good followers of Him, then choosing to intentionally lead others to Jesus. It’s been said that cattle are driven, but sheep are led. To do this correctly, we need God’s love, both for the lost and for His bride. Driving people implies forcing them to do something against their wills. Jeroboam drove people from following the Lord and made them sin a great sin. May it never be said of us today!]
- 22 For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them;
[Although we sometimes may step into the sins of this world, we can choose to depart at any time. May we choose to depart quickly, remembering the longer we stay ensnared, the more difficult departure becomes.]
- 23 Until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.
[God told them what would happen before it happened so that men might know that He is God. John 13:19.]
- 24 And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.
[When God’s Word is abandoned the world will always fill the vacuum in abundance. So it is in many of today’s professing churches.]
- 25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them.
- 26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore He hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land.
[God’s expectation is that all people would seek after Him. His judgment here would be foolish if the people from these nations could not choose to turn to the True and Living God.]
- 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.
[What an opportunity to teach God’s Word! God truly desires that all men would understand and know Him!]
- 28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord.
[The faithfulness of the few. May we seek to teach men the fear of the Lord wherever the Lord sends us.]
- 29 Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.
2 Kings 17:32-40
- 32 So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places.
[What a curious statement. They feared the Lord, yet sacrificed to false gods. This reminds me of Jesus’ statement, “They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Isaiah 29:13,Matthew 15:8.) How is it that men can fear God, but not truly follow Him? There is only one way. They have no true knowledge of the Holy One. They lack true understanding of God and their own sinfulness. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10. Perhaps these people feared God like a bug fears the light. It runs away from the light, fleeing into the darkness in hopes of preserving its own life. These men outwardly feared the Lord God, recognizing His authority, yet chose to flee from God instead of to Him. This is so true today. Too many people in churches profess to know God, yet run to the world’s teachings in psychology and occult methodologies in hopes of staying far from the true Light of the World. One of the sad things here is young believers, ignorant of some of the dangers, have the potential of getting driven down these roads, and, as we all know, the longer someone goes down the wrong road the longer it takes to get back. Secondly, it’s interesting that the people chose to make the lowest of them priests. In 1 Timothy 3:6 God warns us that a leader in church should, “not [be] a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.” Choosing immature, weak men to be priests would guarantee less discernment and conviction, as well as easy manipulation.]
- 33 They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
- 34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel;
[Israel was and continues to be God’s property. By giving them a new name, God signifies His rightful authority over Israel. They are truly God’s chosen nation. Just as Jacob was given a new name, so it is with everyone who’s turned from his sinful self to receive God’s full and free forgiveness found in Christ alone. A new name not only signifies ownership by the one who names us, but also the reality of a new life. Jesus says in John 12:46, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote, “You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6.]
- 35 With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them:
- 36 But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, Him shall ye fear, and Him shall ye worship, and to Him shall ye do sacrifice.
[Lest we forget, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17. God led them out of sorcery, witchcraft, idol worship, and the wisdom of men. We are called to fear God because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of true, eternal wisdom, and this wisdom is foolishness to the world. The world has nothing to offer Israel, and the world has nothing good to offer the true church of God!]
- 37 And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which He wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.
[We shouldn’t revere or fear the ways of the world. Too often the successes of the world become a snare. We wonder why the world is doing so good. We become enticed as did Lot’s wife. May we never look back.]
- 38 And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods.
[One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs is to help us never forget the truth found in Jesus Christ and revealed in His Word. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” John 14:26.]
- 39 But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
[God is not only the Lord their God, but the Lord your God. He is personal and intimate. We can each have a deep, everlasting relationship with Him. Not only does the fear of God bring wisdom, it also brings true deliverance from our greatest enemies – sin, self, and Satan.]
- 40 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.
- 41 So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.
[If the Lord tarries, the choices of today’s church, both godly and ungodly, will have eternal repercussions for many generations. Let us never forget that our faithfulness unto the Lord to walk after His ways will not only bless us. Like a tree bearing much fruit, heartfelt obedience to the Lord will bring eternal nourishment to many others for years to come, bringing all the glory to the One who brings the increase. “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.]
Many of today’s churches are seeking something new, fresh, and ever changing. By doing so, they are choosing to abandon the old paths of God’s sound and secure Word. They are choosing to fill themselves with empty, dangerous, and foolish doctrines instead of allowing the power of God transform and renew God’s people. May Israel’s history be a very real reminder of just how dangerous it is to play with the world and it’s doctrines taught by the god of this world. Instead of dabbling with this world, why not be sold out for the truth of God? After all, what could be more profitable, and what could be more practical?
“Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16