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What Do We Worship?

The main focus of this week's readings is Israel's unfaithfulness and persistent disobedience to God's word. And although the Israelites were instructed by the prophets to turn from their evil ways and return to following the commands and decrees given to their fathers, they ignored the warnings. Just as their fathers did, they became like the nations around them -- building, worshiping, and sacrificing to idols, and doing all the things God had forbidden them to do.

In the midst of all this, we read about one king who, unlike his father King Ahaz, trusted in the Lord. His name was Hezekiah. We are told that there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after him. He was faithful to the commands God had given Moses, removed the high places and idols, and did what was right in God's sight. Because of this, the Lord made him successful in whatever he did.

However, Hezekiah was the exception rather than the rule. Because every other king in Israel and 12 of the 20 kings of Judah were evil, God's patience eventually reached its limits and the prophesied judgment came to be. This resulted in the end of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.

As we read through these sobering passages, we see some recurring themes. We find God requiring faithfulness and humble obedience, His people rebelling, and the resulting judgment. However, we also find God continuing to love His people and his longing for them to return to Him. There is hope offered here as well -- God keeping His promise to save a remnant of His people, and the promise of a coming Messiah who would save the people from their sins.

Yes, it is easy to become critical of the Israelites after reading these chapters, but what similarities do we see when we examine our own lives and the culture in which we find ourselves? How easy is it for us to depart from the Lord and His teachings and, instead, follow the practices of this world? If the things of this world demand the majority of our time, money, and energy, they become OUR present-day idols - often without us even realizing it. Satan has such subtle ways of making it all look so desirable. Although we live on the other side of the cross in a period of grace, we too would do well to heed the prophet's warning and make sure that God is the Lord of our lives.

These passages should cause us to pause and reflect on what it is we are worshipping right now. Are we, too, guilty of putting other things before our relationship with God? What do we reach for first when times get tough? Is it prayer -- or do we reach for something else to help us cope? In today's culture, we are all so busy -- sometimes too busy to spend time with God. If we aren't careful, we -- like the kings within this week's reading -- can find ourselves leading our families in the ways of the world instead of the ways God.

The good news is that God still loves us, and as long as the return of Christ is delayed, we are invited to turn (or return) to Him. Never has it been more important to make sure our lives are built around God and His ways. Like Hezekiah, let's tear down those idols and realign our lives so that they point to God and God alone.

~ Bev Tuitman

June 24th Readings
ISAIAH 8:1-11:16

June 25th Readings
ISAIAH 12:1-6
ISAIAH 17:1-14
2 CHRONICLES 28:16-21
2 KINGS 16:10-18
2 CHRONICLES 28:22-25
2 KINGS 18:1-8
2 KINGS 15:30-31
2 KINGS 17:1-4
HOSEA 1:1-2:13

June 26th Readings
HOSEA 2:14-8:14

June 27th Readings
HOSEA 9:1-14:9

June 28th Readings
ISAIAH 28:1-29
2 KINGS 17:5
2 KINGS 18:9-12
2 KINGS 17:6-41
ISAIAH 1:1-20

June 29th Readings
ISAIAH 1:21-5:30

June 30th Readings
2 KINGS 16:19-20
2 CHRONICLES 28:26-27
ISAIAH 13:1-16:14