When I think of worship, I think of song. But worship is more than that, isn’t it? Judah, Israel, the surrounding nations, all of them were guilty of turning from the Lord and worshiping something else. They installed their idols in shrines and altars. They offered sacrifices to idols. So worshiping is more than just singing to something–it’s giving it a place of honor; consulting and trusting in it for needs, favor, salvation; placing all hope in it; giving offerings/making sacrifices to it; revering it; talking about it. In all, worship is giving something/someone a place of honor, and power, over us.
22 Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, “Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.” But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. (2 Chronicles 28:22-23, NLT)
King Ahaz rejected the Lord, even in his times of trouble. He gave honor and power to something else, which led to his ruin. And it led to the ruin of his nation.
7 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 Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. 8 They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. 9 The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings. (2 Kings 17:7-12, NLT)
The Israelites put in great effort and attention to worship other gods and idols. They were intentional. When I read this passage from 2 Kings 17, they were busy and active pursuing practices of other nations, as well as funding and building things to revere in place of the Lord.
The Lord sends a message through prophets and seers–he persists to turn them from their sin. Like a parent warning a child of imminent danger: “Don’t do that!” The warnings go ignored.
14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.
16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger. (2 Kings 17:14-17, NLT)
It’s easy for me to point to the leaders of these nations for setting a dangerous course. Leaders do carry responsibility. And leaders are accountable for their actions.
But so am I.
Lord, help make it clear to me who I follow, where I put my trust and hope, what or who I’ve given power to. And if it’s not you, help me to see my error and correct my way. I cannot imagine a better life or truer calling apart from you. Thank you for your persistent love.