READ: 2 Kings 16-17
THINK: Are you a positive person? If so, you certainly prefer to approach God's Word from a positive perspective, recognizing the positive difference it makes in people's lives. Yet, there are parts of the Word that don't paint a positive picture. This is one of them. Up to this point, God's people had gone through repeated cycles of salvation and rebellion. Time and again, God warned of impending judgment, but they refused to listen. So true to His Word, God's patience reached an end. He had enough of their defiant behavior, "secret sins" (17:9) and worthless idols (17:15). Their corruption had reached a climax, so God forcefully removed them from the promised land. It's one of the most tragic images in the Bible. The only positive angle is that it provides a warning to never compromise our devotion to God or reach this point of rebellion. It also challenges us to do all we can to keep others from rejecting God's mercy.
RESPOND: What do Ahaz's religious practices reveal about the moral corruption at the time? (See 16:3 note.) Although it spared them from immediate attack, how do you think Judah's alliance with the Assyrians eventually affected Judah (16:7-9)? How did Ahaz's associations with the Assyrian's affect him spiritually (16:10-18)? What tendencies do you see among some church-goers to imitate or adapt to ungodly religious practices? What eventually happened to Israel because of centuries of rebellion? (See 17:6 note.) Who conquered Israel and why did God allow this? What were some of Israel's sins? (See 17:7 note.) Who or what influenced Israel to defy God? (See 17:8 note.) How are Israel's experiences a warning to the church? What kinds of things might be regarded as "secret" sins (17:9), and why are they dangerous? How had God warned Israel throughout this time, and how did people respond? (See 17:13 note.) How does God warn people today, and how do most respond? How did following "worthless idols" affect people (17:15)? What was left of God's people after this? (See 17:18 note.) What did the Assyrians do with Israel's land after deporting the people, and why? (See 17:24 note.) In what way do people create their own "gods" (17:29-33), then try to blend them with Christianity? How does this impact future generations (17:38-41)?
PRAY: Ask God to help you avoid relationships and activities that could influence you away from Him. Pray that you'll never allow anything to take God's place in your life and that you'll never compromise true worship to Him.
ACT: Remove yourself from any relationship that's pulling you away from God or distracting you from His purposes. Rid your life of anything that is spiritually worthless. Confess and forsake any hidden sin.
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