The other day I was reading my Bible and stumbled across 2 Kings 17:1-23. That passage talks about the exile and unnecessary suffering the Kingdom of Israel experienced because of their constant disobedience to God.
These people who were so privileged and hand-picked by God from all other nations of the earth forfeited the good plans and destiny God had marked for them because of their sins.
Their sins did not just include idolatry and getting entangled with pagan nations, they also committed the abominable act of human sacrifice of their own children to these idols.
As a mother, I can’t begin to imagine how low these people must have sunk to kill their own children for some god. Why did these people who were once destined for greatness reduce themselves to such savage beasts?
I don’t think the Israelites ever imagined they would become so depraved. I can imagine them many years ago being shocked at the detestable practises the neighbouring countries committed. Sadly, in no time they too became involved. So how did this descent start?
The answer is that they allowed themselves to become enticed by the appeal of sin. It may have started as a harmless curiosity to see how the other nations lived their lives, or honouring an invitation to a ceremony or getting married to an idol worshipper.
Regardless of how their romance with foreign gods started, I believe the Israelites must have felt powerful and thought of themselves as invincible to the temptations of their pagan neighbours. They must have thought, “we are God’s chosen people, there is no way we would ever bow down to idols.” Sadly, not long after, they were not only bowing down to idols, but killing their children to please the idols.
And that my friends, is the way sin and destruction wraps itself around people. It never shows you its true colours. Oh no, not at all. It comes as a friend, as a decoy, it never tells you that it will destroy you. It looks harmless and tells you that many others are involved in the same situation. But like the Israelites, what may seem right, may turn out to be destructive at the end.
So how can we escape the snare of sin and destruction? These are some of the lessons I have picked up from the tragic story of this once great nation:
You are not invincible: Most of us think we are really strong and can overcome temptations. But that’s not true, many great men and women of God have fallen because they thought too highly of themselves. The Bible warns us in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Always be on the lookout for ‘occasions of sin’. You can’t play with fire and not get burnt. Make sure the music, movies, books and friends you love are not a source of temptation.
God has a plan for your life, so also does the devil: The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has great plans for our lives. But do you know the devil also has plans for you? His greatest desire is that you never enjoy the plans that God has for you. He will try to distract you from fulfilling God’s plans by using things that you like. But you must resist him. It is only by living in accordance to God’s plans that you will truly enjoy your life and be fulfilled. Like Jesus said in Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Listen to correction: The disobedient Israelites were warned, over and over again by different prophets. But they rarely listened. They seemed too preoccupied with their lives to turn away from their sins. It’s the same way with us today, God often tries to get our attention by using different means to appeal to us. But so often we pretend not to hear Him, we become deaf and blind to His warnings. Then when we begin to reap the consequences of our sins, we are quick to blame God.
You have power over your thoughts through Christ: It’s common for some Christians to blame the devil when they fall into temptation. But before that happens, they usually have the thoughts and desires to do it like James 1:15 tells us. The good news is, you and I have power over our thoughts and feelings. You are no more a slave of your thoughts and feelings, you have authority over them in the name of Jesus. When sinful thoughts enter your heart, recognise it as the bait of the devil. Refuse to dwell on those idle thoughts, pray against them and replace them with something useful and more productive. Don't be caught napping, be on your guard!
I pray that God will help us fulfil the plans that He has for our lives, amen.