I had a light bulb moment. In the New Testament, we recall how there is so much animosity between Jews and Samaritans (those from Samaria). As we’ve been reading through the history of the kings, we’ve seen how Israel’s king was situated in Samaria. Now we know the history that happened to cause such disdain by the Israelites toward the Samaritans.
It must go back to the Assyrian take-over of Israel and how foreigners were brought in by Assyria and resettled in promised land. Not only did they oppress the Israelites and take away their homes, they brought with them their own way of doing things. God was not pleased and sent lions to devour some of the people.
I thought it interesting God would allow the Assyrian invasion yet still be angered by what they did when they repopulated the area. I feel sorry for the poor priest whom they brought back from exile to “teach” the new inhabitants how to worship God.
It seems like he was successful in teaching them “to” worship, but the “how” escaped them. It was clear how God wanted to be worshipped. We are reminded several times in this reading alone. “You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” Even the Israelites had gotten it wrong. They had left behind pagan shrines that not only proved their own lack of allegiance to “only” God but also gave the new residents a handy place to start up their own practices. And start up they did!
Do these words speak loudly to you today? We live in an age where we are bombarded on a regular basis with all sorts of choices of how to spend our time, who to pay attention to, and even where to worship. I can’t imagine that God’s desires have changed with time. He still wants our devotion. All of it.
Idolatry is one of the most common and contagious sins we’ve seen throughout human history. The only hope we have for a cure is found in Jesus Christ. It’s helpful to remember that an idol is anything more important to you than God. It can be a bad thing, such as sexual perversion or the love of money. But more often, an idol is a good thing that consumes us, such as family or career. An idol is anything that captures your heart more than God and asks of you what only God rightly deserves.
1 John 5:21 warns, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” To help us identify our own idols, you might find the answer when you fill in the blanks here.
“More than anything, I want ____”
“I need ____”
“I’m seeking ____”
“I’m trusting ____”
Where are your weaknesses? What idols are keeping you from experiencing God’s blessings? Idols will be alluring but NEVER satisfy. Only God can bring true fulfillment. What changes do you need to make to your life today?
Let’s pray …
Lord, forgive me for those times that I let things distract me from you. Help me to focus on the many blessings that surround me. Guard my heart from looking to the wrong sources for my fulfilment and joy. Fill me with your grace and peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.