2 Kings 17:24-41 – A Fleetwood Mac Song Title Is Appropriate!

Posted: September 12, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 17:24-41

Foreigners Settle in Israel

Back in the day, when I was in high school in the late 70’s-early 80’s, one of the biggest bands around was Fleetwood Mac. One of their biggest hits of that era was “You Can Go Your Own Way”. It is that title which is from the chorus of that song that I thought of this morning as I read through this passage. You can go your own way. That’s what we do when we do not know or even want to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. We go our own way. Reading this passage this morning reminds me of our nation as we stand here almost one-fifth of the way through the 21st century. It in particular reminds me of myself prior to my own salvation in December 2001. In those days prior to meeting the true Christ as my Savior, I had molded a belief system around the Jesus Christ that I imagined in my mind. I molded a Jesus Christ that was suitable to me.

I believed that Jesus existed and that he was a real person. But I did not believe in Him as the Son of God, God in the flesh, a part of the three expressions of the Godhead. I thought of Jesus as this anti-establishment rebel who spoke of loving your neighbor and killing people with kindness. I believed in a Jesus that would call out hypocrisy where he saw it. I believed in a Jesus that was a great philosopher. I believed in a Jesus who was against the established bigotries of the day and any day. Because of his outspokenness against the status quo of the day, it got him in trouble with the establishment and living in the age that he did, it got him killed. I had a hard time believing in the whole resurrection thing, the whole miracles thing. I just thought of him as this anti-establishment rebel rabbi. To me, he was so much cooler than the church version of Jesus. Because I created my own version of Jesus, I made him OK with my lifestyle. Jesus and me had a deal with any of my favorite sins because of all the things that I had been through in my life. I deserved my little sin outlets and Jesus was granting me a dispensation of sorts for them. That way I did not have to repent of any sins that I found suitable to me.

It was not until December 2001 that I truly understood that Jesus was the Son of God and not just some hippie anti-establishment rabbi. I finally began to get what the Bible was saying about Him. God’s Word is foolishness to those who are perishing and do not even know it. It was foolishness to me until the Holy Spirit did his work in my heart. He made me realize that I am a sinner no matter how I justify my sins. That I sin every moment of every day and that Jesus in His perfection as the Son of God died willingly to pay the penalty for my sins. The Holy Spirit made me see that there are no deals. That God doesn’t just accept anything that I do because He just wants me to be happy. Because of the Fall of Man, we are all decayed with sin. Because of the Fall, we cannot stop ourselves from sinning and we will never be able to do enough good to offset our sins. We are like a glass of water that has a drop of ink dropped into it. It forever changes the water and you cannot “un-ink” the water no matter how hard you try. We are permanently stained. We cannot change it back to clear water, ever! Yet, we think we are OK because we rationalize away our sins because we “are basically a good person”. We pride ourselves in the good we think we do. But it doesn’t change the drops of ink that we put in our water every day. There is no way to “un-ink” our water. Our first sin condemns us to hell plain and simple. Nothing can offset it. No matter how much we do that is good. It does not change the permanent alteration of our soul created by our first sin. We are condemned to hell by our first sin. Add to that the fact that we commit sins each and every day that add to the prosecutorial evidence against us as habitual sinners, we have no hope in front of God in the absence of a Savior.

However, many of us want to see ourselves as in control of who we are and want to continue to live in the manner in which we desire. We begin to negotiate away certain things that the Bible says are sins so that we can continue to dabble in those sins. We develop grand arguments as to why our particular sins that we have no desire to repent of are actually not sins at all. We rationalize away that what God called sin thousands of years ago was for that time. We thus tear out pages of the Bible in essence because we say they are no longer valid to us today so that we can continue to sin in the ways that we want to sin. We rationalize away that God just wants us to be happy so that we can continue to sin. That was me. This is many of us. We mold Jesus into what we want we want Him to be so that we can continue to be the sinners we want to be and call it goodness and call it OK in the sight of God. That was me. This is us. It was this thought that came to mind this morning as I read this passage, 2 Kings 17:24-41, this morning. Let’s read it now:

24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria in place of the people of Israel; they took possession of Samaria, and settled in its cities. 25 When they first settled there, they did not worship the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. 26 So the king of Assyria was told, “The nations that you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land; therefore he has sent lions among them; they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land.” 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there; let him[a] go and live there, and teach them the law of the god of the land.” 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel; he taught them how they should worship the Lord.

29 But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the people of Samaria had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived; 30 the people of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the people of Cuth made Nergal, the people of Hamath made Ashima; 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 They also worshiped the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. 33 So they worshiped the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 34 To this day they continue to practice their former customs.

They do not worship the Lord and they do not follow the statutes or the ordinances or the law or the commandment that the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. 35 The Lord had made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not worship other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36 but you shall worship the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm; you shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. 37 The statutes and the ordinances and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to observe. You shall not worship other gods; 38 you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not worship other gods, 39 but you shall worship the Lord your God; he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” 40 They would not listen, however, but they continued to practice their former custom.

41 So these nations worshiped the Lord, but also served their carved images; to this day their children and their children’s children continue to do as their ancestors did.

In this passage, we see that the new settlers in Israel worshiped God without giving up their pagan customs. They worshiped God to appease Him rather than to please Him, treating him as a good luck charm or just another idol to add to their collection. A similar attitude can be found today. Many of us claim to believe in God while refusing to give up attitudes and actions that God denounces. God cannot be added to the values that we already have. He must come first and His Word must shape all our actions and attitudes.

The bottom line is that it is only through the hardness of heart, even as Christians, that we sometimes ignore the sins in our lives and sometimes even call them good things, even when God’s Word says it is sin and that is certainly the case with us before salvation. We want so bad for our favorite sins to be not sins that we fashion God’s Word into what we want it to be. We make deals with God in our minds. We are like the ancient Israelites that fashioned a religion that was not of God but they thought it was and called it that in their minds. Are we doing that today? Are you and I ignoring God’s Word just so we can continue in a path that we want to walk? Are we fashioning a Jesus like I fashioned before salvation? Are we making God what we want Him to be? Changing what God’s Word means to us doesn’t change its original meaning, its timeless meaning, its eternal meaning, just so we can “un-ink” our water from its sin stain.

Help us, Lord, to understand your Word stands eternally and means the same thing today as it did when it was originally written down. Help us to understand your Word as you intended it to be understood and not fashion it into some, changed version to suit our desires in the present day. Help us not to fashion you into what we want to be so that we don’t have to deal with who we are really are in front of you. Help us to see who we are – condemned sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

Amen and Amen.

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