July 15 (Daily reading: 2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 16-17) The sad story we read today presents the dangers of compromise. We see first the reason for Israel’s fall: “The sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God … and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out” (2 Kgs. 17:7-8). Even though God had given them victory and driven out their enemies, Israel still adopted the idolatrous customs of the defeated enemy. God judged Israel and “removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.” Judah did not learn from Israel’s mistakes; sin is contagious: “Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced” (2 Kgs. 17:18-19).
It was strange what happened after Israel had been taken into exile. The king of Assyria brought foreigners in to occupy the cities of Israel. He provided for them a priest to teach them how to serve the God of Israel, for their own protection. But the new residents followed the example of Israel who had lived there before them: “Every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses of the high places … They feared the LORD and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations” (2 Kgs. 17:29, 33).
Ironically, the foreigners worshiped their pagan gods in the high places that the unfaithful Hebrews had built for their own false worship.
Note the disheartening summary of these events: “So while these nations feared the LORD, they also served their idols; their children likewise and their grandchildren, as their fathers did, so they do to this day” (17:41). They feared the Lord, but they also served idols (compromise). Their sin was perpetuated for generations to come. Some make compromises to be “effective,” but when it leads to unfaithfulness, compromise is sin.
– Al Gary