Worldview Wrap-Up: Learn from Israel and don’t forsake God (2 Kings 17:7-18; 1 Thess 5:17-22)

Worldview Wrap-Up: Learn from Israel and don’t forsake God (2 Kings 17:7-18; 1 Thess 5:17-22)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, November 14 and Sunday, November 15, 2020

Children are dismissed to junior church.

We are going to be going to 2 Kings 17:7-18 in a minute.

Over the last several weeks we have talked about having a Biblical worldview. The Biblical worldview goes like this: creation-fall-redemption-restoration. Everything was created good, as we see in Genesis chapters 1-2. Creation fell in Genesis 3. All of creation is fallen (Romans 8:22-23). Jesus has redeemed us (John 3:16), but the world is still fallen. Someday God will restore all things (Revelation 21-22).

We have talked at great length about each of these parts of a Biblical worldview. Why is there pain and suffering? This is because we live in a fallen world. Is this how things are meant to be? No, absolutely not. We are redeemed by Jesus, but things are not restored yet. We needed Divine intervention. We need police because we live in a fallen world. There is racism and all kinds of bad stuff because we live in a fallen world. Someday, God will make things right.

What does it look like to lose the Biblical worldview?

What does it look like to forget God?

Today, we will look at 2 Kings 17:7-18 and see an example of that.

My theme is:

Learn from Israel and don’t forsake God

Let’s read 2 Kings 17:7-18:

Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the Lord their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the Lord had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the Lord. 12 They served idols, concerning which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” 14 However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the Lord had commanded them not to do like them. 16 They forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him. 18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.

  1. Why Israel fell
    • Years ago John Steinbeck wrote a letter to Adlai Stevenson. In it he said, “There is a creeping all-pervading gas of immorality which starts in the nursery and does not stop until it reaches the highest offices both corporate and governmental.”—Billy Graham, World Aflame[1]
    • We see the immorality reach a climax and then consequences here.
    • Israel has neglected the Biblical Worldview.
    • Likewise, America is also leaving the Biblical worldview. We, as Christians, must test everything and hold true to a Biblical Worldview. We must be different.
    • If we read verse 6, 2 Kings 17:6, we read that the King of Assyria captured Samaria. Now, Samaria was the capitol of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
    • What we need to know at this point is that Israel and Judah had been separated. They have had a divided kingdom since around 930 BC and it is now around 722 BC.
    • MacArthur shares: The capture of Samaria marked the end of the northern kingdom. According to Assyrian records, the Assyrians deported 27,290 inhabitants of Israel to distant locations. The relocation of populations was characteristic of Assyrian policy during that era. The Israelites were resettled in the upper Tigris-Euphrates Valley and never returned to the Promised Land. “Halah” was a city northeast of Nineveh. The “Habor” River was a northern tributary of the Euphrates. The “cities of the Medes” were northeast of Nineveh. Samaria was resettled with foreigners (v. 24). God did what he said he would do in Deut. 28. The Jews were carried as far east as Susa, where the book of Esther later took place.[2]
    • Israel had lost their Biblical worldview and that is why God rejected them.
    • Starting in verse 7 we see why Israel fell.
    • Verse 7: now, this came about because Israel had sinned against the Lord.
    • The verse continues to share about their history. The Lord brought them up from the land of Egypt. The passage says they feared other gods.  The NET Bible says they worshipped other gods, which is probably more accurate. Judges 6:10 tells them not to fear other gods.
    • Verse 8 continues what is going on.
    • They walked in the customs of the nations. These were the nations that the Lord had driven out before them. But the kings of Israel even introduced these customs.
    • God had told them not to do this. Lev 18:3; Deut 18:9 both talk about not being like the other nations.
    • 2 Kings 16:3 says they even made their sons pass through the fire, which most likely means child sacrifice.
    • Verse 9 shares that they did things secretly which were not right, and these were against the Lord. More likely, this had to do with speaking things against the Lord. They built high places which were places of pagan worship.
    • We must always guard about what we do in secret. They are not in secret to God.
    • MacArthur shares: In direct disobedience to Deut. 12:1–4, the Israelites built new raised altars in the Canaanite pattern after the temple was constructed. These “high places” were in all the habitations of Israel, from small fortified structures to large garrison cities, i.e., from the smallest to largest towns. The altars were on wooded hills with images representing the false gods (2 Kings 17:10; cf. Deut. 16:21–22).[3]
    • Verses 10-11 continue about their pagan worship.
    • They setup sacred pillars and asherim. Asherim would be wooden symbols of a female deity. So, they were worshipping pagan gods and the passage said they did that on every high hill and under every green tree.
    • They did these things which Ex 34:12–14 warns against.
    • Verse 11 says they burned incense, this would be a worship practice but they were doing this to pagan deities. They did this on the high places as the pagans did.
    • They did evil things provoking the Lord to anger.
    • Verse 12 shows that they served idols, even though the Lord said not to do that (see Ex 20:4).
  2. The Lord warned them, but they would not listen (verses 13-17).
    • Verse 13 begins with “yet.” This is a contrast. The Lord warned Israel, and Judah as well.  
    • How did the Lord warn them?
    • The Lord warned them through His prophets and every seer.
    • There is probably a subtle difference between the two. A name sometimes applied to the prophets because of the visions granted to them.[4]
    • The Lord had also warned them by His Word.
    • The prophets and the seers exhorted them to turn back.
    • The Lord exhorted them to turn and also keep His law.
    • Verse 14 shares that they did not listen.
    • They got more stubborn like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord.
    • Verse 15 picks up on this. They rejected the Lord’s statutes and His covenant which He had made with their ancestors. They followed like the other nations, though the Lord had warned them not to do like them.
    • In verse 16 we see that they disobeyed the Lord’s commandment about idols. They made idols: molten images, two calves, an asherah, which was a wooden symbol of a female deity. They worshipped the stars and served baal.
    • The molten images of calves or bulls were typical cult items in Canaan.[5]
    • Worship of the starry hosts refers worship of the celestial gods (sun god, moon god and Venus particularly; in Babylonia, Shamash, Sin and Ishtar respectively), who were primary in most ancient religions. Controlling the calendar and time, seasons and weather, they were viewed as the most powerful of the gods. They provided signs by which omens were read and they looked down on all. [6]
    • In verse 17 we see how bad they got. They made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, which would be child sacrifice. They practiced divination and enchantments, that would not be of God. Then they sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord. They provoked God.
    • Forms of witchcraft, fortune-telling, and black magic were forbidden by God ( Deuteronomy 18:9-14 ). They were wrong because they sought power and guidance totally apart from God, his law, and his Word. Isaiah echoed this law and prophesied of the complete destruction these occult practices would bring to those who participated in them ( Isaiah 8:19-22 ).[7]
    • Divination and enchantments were also well-known in Mesopotamia. Divination assumed that there was knowledge to be gained about the activities and motives of the gods through the use of various indicators (such as entrails of sacrificed animals). Thousands of omens and incantations have been uncovered in the past one hundred and fifty years of archaeological research.[8]
    • In verse 18 we see that God gave them up. God had them conquered. Only Judah was left.
    • Likewise, America is also leaving the Biblical worldview. We, as Christians, must test everything and hold true to a Biblical Worldview. We must be different.
  3. Learn from Israel’s mistakes
    • Swindoll shares: First corinthians 5:6 says, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” I remember hearing an interesting story one of my Greek professors told on one of his students. He taught a class at eight o’clock in the morning. Now at that hour, some people just don’t function well, especially in Greek. One student was struggling to translate 1 Corinthians 5:6. He knew how the King James Version read, but knew he could not quote that because the professor would know he was not translating the Greek. So he came out with the familiar “a little dab’ll do you.” That was the best he could do.
    • That’s true! A little dab will affect the whole bunch. You put a little, rotten, insignificant apple in a bucket of good apples, and the good apples will never make that rotten apple good. What will happen? Just the opposite. First, those around that rotten apple will begin to become rotten and decayed. And leave them there long enough and you’ve got a bucket of waste, ruined by that little dab of rottenness.[9]
      • This passage is sad, but it is also a reminder. Israel was taken into exile just like the prophets had warned. Whatever God promises will come to pass. We must trust in the Lord today. When the Lord says there is a punishment for sin, we must believe Him.
      • Verse 7 reminds the reader and us that the Lord had brought them out from Egypt. We just never forget how the Lord provides for us. We must take time to give thanks to the Lord. We must take time to reflect on how the Lord provides.
      • Verse 7 says they feared or worshipped other gods. We must make sure that things and people do not become idols.
        1. Television must not be more important than God.
        1. Books and learning must not be more important than God.
        1. Work must not be more important than God.
        1. Video games must not be more important than God.
        1. Money must not be more important than God.
        1. People, even spouses and children must not be more important than God.
        1. Stuff must not be more important than God.
        1. Allegiance to one’s country must not be more important than God.
      • Verse 8 shares that they became like the other nations. We must not be like the world. Friendship with the world makes us enemies of God (James 4:4). We must not be conformed to the world, but we must be transformed (Romans 12:1-2).
      • Verse 9 shares that they did things secretly which were not right. We must guard against secret sins. We must repent. Numbers 32:23 be sure your sin will find you out.
      • Verse 13 shares that the Lord warned them. The Lord warns us too. We must repent when we hear a warning about sins of omission or commission. Sins of omission are things that we do not do that we should do. Sins of commission are sins that we do that we should not do.
      • Praise God that He gives second chances. God gives opportunities to repent.
      • God wants us to repent and follow Him.
      • Verse 15 shows that they rejected God’s statutes, His rules, and expectations. They followed vanity. We must listen to the Lord and not follow vain, worthless things.
      • We must follow the Lord.
      • We must test everything (1 Thess. 5:21).

Israel was stubborn. They rejected God. They rejected His ways. They rejected the Lord’s authority. They needed discipline to make them repent.

Many years ago, James Dobson told a story about a 10‑year‑old boy named Robert. He was a patient of a California pediatrician. When Robert was scheduled for a visit to the doctor’s office, the news would spread like wildfire. To sum up the story, the boy would not obey and if you tried to get him to obey, he would threaten to take off his clothes. Well, one dentist called his bluff. The dentist said, “fine take off your clothes.” The boy takes off all his clothes! The dentist does the work on his teeth, then the boy wants them back. The dentist says that his mother can pick up his clothes tomorrow. The boy walks out totally naked passed everyone up and goes home. Next day the mom comes and thanks the dentist. The next day the mother came for her son’s clothes and asked to speak to the dentist.

When he came out, she said:

“Doctor, I want to thank you for what you did to Robert yesterday. For as long as I can remember, he has threatened us with just about everything.

“But his favorite [threat] has been that he’ll take off his clothes if he doesn’t get his way. You’re the first person that has ever called his bluff, and he’s already become a different child!”

I know, that same story in today’s world would find the dentist in jail. But that’s the problem. We’re asking kids permission to change their diapers and having to sue to get them to leave their bedrooms.[10]

Listen, we are a society that has lost, rule and authority. We have lost discipline. We have lost right and wrong. We must repent. Seek the Lord. Share the Gospel. Test everything and cling to a Biblical worldview (1 Thess 5:17-22).

Prayer


[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 292.

[2] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[3] Excerpt From: Crossway. “The MacArthur Study Bible, ESV.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-macarthur-study-bible-esv/id419199195

[4] M. G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).

[5] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 17:16–17.

[6] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 17:16–17.

[7] Tyndale House Publishers. Life Application Study Bible NLT (Kindle Locations 129105-129106). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[8] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 2 Ki 17:16–17.

[9] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 293.

[10] https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/parents-losing-control.html

Kashmira Gander, “Ask Your Baby’s Permission Before Changing Diaper, Says Sexual Consent Expert,” Newsweek, May 10, 2018, read online.

Michelle Singletary, “Parents Who Went to Court to Evict Their Unemployed 30-Year-Old Son Did the Right Thing,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2018, read online.

Ed Young, From Bad Beginnings to Happy Endings.

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