Halfway through January I started reading the book of 2 Kings. I found myself wanting to know more and checking cross references to help me understand better. This does wonders for understanding, but not for actually completing the prescribed reading!
Saturday I found myself with plenty of time to just sit and catch up with my reading. I wanted to know what kingly line Ahab had come from. Wow! I had to do a LOT of reading to figure that out!
- Jeroboam’s line only lasted 2 generations because of idolatry,
- as did Baasha’s, because of idolatry.
- Omri took over after that, and Ahab was actually Omri’s son. They only made it 3 generations, too, because of idolatry.
I noticed the evil and bad decisions of these kings and their families, because of idolatry.
Then the king of Judah intermarried with Ahab’s idolatrous family. Next thing you know, Athaliah, granddaughter of Omri, kills all the male heirs of the king of Judah except one (whom his aunt hides in the house of the Lord), and declares herself queen.
I mention Athaliah because of her cruelty, her selfish ambition to the point of annihilating all her grandsons except the one, whom God saved because of His covenant with David, whose future heir would be Jesus Christ.
She was SO idolatrous that the house of the Lord was a good hiding place!
Her grandson was safe in Jerusalem, right under her nose, and neither she, nor anyone she surrounded herself with knew about it!
When the priest of the Lord and a group of others finally set him up as king at age 7, in the house of the LORD, she hears the noise of the people and comes to check it out. She sees her grandson, realizes that he has been made king, and instead of being happy to see her one living grandson, she cries out, “Treason! Treason!” Obviously no remorse there!
“So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword in the king’s house.” 2 Kings 11:20 NKJV
“A wicked ruler over a helpless people is like a roaring lion or a charging bear.” Proverbs 28:15 CSB
“When the righteous thrive, people rejoice. When the wicked rule, people groan.” Proverbs 29:2 TLV
I was a bit disturbed as I read all this, not just because of all the inhumanity and atrocities, but because I see how easily we can fall away from following after the LORD with our whole heart, how easy it is to put self on the throne, even as a Christian,
- to consider self better than another,
- to be apathetic in our attitudes,
- to be callous with our words,
- to be angry and bitter and unforgiving,
- to put the desires of the flesh above obedience to God,
- to be unthankful for the grace that we have been given.
God calls this selfish ambition “demonic“; check it out:
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” James 3:14-16 NASB
This morning as our church celebrated the Lord’s Supper (Communion), the Lord showed me even more clearly that these attitudes are idolatry, that they grieve the heart of God.
- He reminded me that not loving a brother means you don’t love God. (1 John 4:20,21)
- If we don’t love God and our brother, we are walking in disobedience to God.
- We are not loving the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, nor our neighbor as our self.
So, if we don’t love a brother, we are living in the idolatry of self. Ouch.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Jesus died a bitter death to save us from our sin, our tendency to exalt self over God, which always leads to some sort of death, including addictions and deaths to relationships.
If we fall back into the idolatry of self after He saves us, it is because
- we tend to disregard or overlook what God says about our sin,
- we have forgotten what we were like when He has rescued us, and/or
- we have lost sight of the agony that He had to suffer in order to rescue us.
In short, forgetting these things has brought us to a place of ungratefulness which brings “disorder and every evil thing” into our lives.
The good news is that when we repent, He forgives us again!
He may not take away the consequences, but when we confess to Him in humility,
“He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Today I am thankful for all the times that God has brought me back from slipping into this idolatry of self, in whatever forms this has taken. I am grateful for the agony Jesus suffered to save me from myself. I’m also grateful that He wants to save you, for we all need His salvation!
How about you? Are you grateful for the agony that Jesus suffered on your behalf to save you? Have you drifted into forgetfulness of how bad sin is if it necessitated the suffering and death of the Son of God? If so, why not make today the day you come back to Him in repentance?