2 Kings 17:37-41
New Living Translation (NLT)
|Hellenistic Tower of Samaria|
V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers
37 Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. 38 Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” 40 But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices. 41 So while these new residents worshiped the Lord, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same.
Back in the days when King Ahaz was over Judah, and Hoshea was king over Israel, God got fed up with the disobedience of His people. Because of the idolatry going on, God decided it was time to make good on His warning, and Assyria went to war with Israel, taking captive all who lived in Samaria. So the Israelites were moved out , and people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath and Sepharvaim moved in and re-populated the whole area.
The newcomers knew nothing about God, but God knew plenty about them. He sent lions into the area, and a lot of the settlers were mauled to death. Finally someone went to the king of Assyria and said 'Hey! The new people in Samaria don't know how to please the God of this land! Will you send back one of the Israeli priests so he can teach everyone what to do?" So one of the priests went back to live in Bethel.
So now all the newcomers got to hear about the God of the Israelites, and how to serve Him. The problem was, that even as they learned to worship God, they didn't let go of their old lifestyles. They developed a fear for God, maybe even an abstract fear of God, but they just couldn't let go of their own idols, their traditions, their customs. Even though they appointed priests and made the right sacrifices to God, they never surrendered to Him, never lived their lives for Him. Even to this day.
So is this really about Samaria and its inhabitants? You bet. Historically, that's exactly who this story is about. But is that all it's about? Look around you. Heck, look in your closest mirror. Have we surrendered our own lives to God, completely? Or do we just give Him lip service?
Consider our society. The majority, a whopping 78% (as of 2009) of Americans claim to be "Christian". They post "Like if you love Jesus" on their FaceBook walls. They promise to pray for everyone who scrapes a knee. Heck, they might even attend church on Easter Sunday. But look beyond the social network news feeds for a moment and really look at what's going on around you. More than 70% of all young people will shack up before marriage. Slightly more than 40% of all births are to unmarried women. According to the latest statistics, about as many abortions take place every year as do births to single mothers. Supposedly only 4% of Americans claim to be gay, although I'm sure that the numbers are significantly higher if you count those who experiment with bi-sexuality. Support for gays and lesbians is through the roof. Well over half of all men and women have admitted to being unfaithful during a committed relationship. One quarter of all internet searches are for pornography, and it is estimated that 90% of children will view porn online before their 17th birthday.
Is America really any better than Samaria was?
Maybe you or I don't fall into any of those statistics above, but does that really make us blameless before God? Consider for a moment... How often do you go have a drink or two at the bar? Or skip church on Sunday because there's a Nascar race or football game going on? Are we too busy with work to make time for our kids? Are we eating our meals in front of the TV instead of sharing the time with our family? Is there anything wrong with any of those things?
Well it depends. When is the last time you spent time really, really communicating with God through prayer or worship, or listening to what He has to say by reading His word?
Maybe we're no better than the Samarians after all.