We all have them. Our pagan shrines aren’t necessarily physical places where we worship though. The pagan shrines I’m imagining are those “little” sins we overlook every day. When we look the other way long enough, we stop seeing them. That’s what I’d like to think happened to these kings of Judah. They were supposedly “good” kings who pleased God, but how could they be truly “good” if they left the pagan shrines standing?
In church on Sunday, we try to look all brushed off and “perfect,” even though we know we’re far from that. We can all “clean up” pretty good, on the outside. But God’s interested on what’s on the inside. Our inner thoughts are not a secret from God.
We may feel far removed from our brothers and sisters under King Hoshea’s rule. Lots of time, generations have passed. Yet, the shrines remain. Now they are “our” shrines. It’s up to us to smash them down and stop ignoring that they exist. They aren’t going to go away on their own.
Satan looks for EVERY opening he can find to wiggle his way into our lives and the way we think. God is there to protect if we let him. We can all do a better job at asking him, don’t you agree?
This is a very monumental passage in the history of God’s people. Israel falls to the Assyrians. It wasn’t like God didn’t predict such a fall. God sent many prophets to warn the people of Israel and Judah. Israel had fallen farther faster I guess, because Judah was not involved in this take over. They’ll have their own day of exile.
Israel’s destruction took three whole years. That’s a long time. The words used to describe this time do not sound appealing. Disaster. Besieged. We hear “the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the LORD’s anger.” When I read words like that it gives me pause to look in the mirror. Do any of my practices anger the LORD?
Here is what the passage says is God’s desire. “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.”
If we allow our pagan shrines to remain, what will our fate look like? One thing is for sure, we would be missing out on some of God’s blessings. That’s the alternative, and I’m not a fan! God’s blessings outshine any shrine we might have, i.e. greed, pride, lust, or any distracting “thing.”
James 1:17 says, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” Reflect on that.
Let’s pray …
Lord, I hope that I’m not too stubborn in accepting the blessings you have for me. Help me to stop thinking that my way may be valuable when your way is the best way. Cleanse my heart of evil and draw me closer to you. Protect me from attacks of the evil one. Help me to be grounded in your truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.