Day 117: The last straw (2 Kings 15-17)

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns. They set up sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. At every high place they burned incense, as the nations whom the LORD had driven out before them had done. They did wicked things that provoked the LORD to anger. They worshiped idols, though the LORD had said, “You shall not do this.” The LORD warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your fathers to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the LORD their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the LORD had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things the LORD had forbidden them to do. 2 Kings 17:7-15

“That’s it buster! I warned you!” It was a popular phrase my parents would whip out every once in a while when I was little and repeatedly doing something particularly wrong. They would give me several stern warnings, then maybe a little discipline here and there. And then, if I kept it up, that was it – The Last Straw – banishment to my room without any conveniences I had grown accustomed to. It was the worst. Time just spent, in a time-out of sorts, just sitting and laying there. Twiddling thumbs. Boredom. It was a surprisingly effective punishment.

The same situation, although on a much grander scale, could be explained in 2 Kings 17, as God’s patience officially runs out with the Israelites. After the split into Israel and Judah and a huge line of evil and corrupt kings that turned their backs on God and led the people into idolatry, God finally says, “Enough is enough,” and allows Assyria to conquer the nation and send the people into exile. The nation of Israel as we know it is over.

God gave the people SO MANY warnings, through the prophets, through miracles, but the people still fell back into sin, gave in to their lusts and turned their backs on the LORD. Eventually, God had enough.

Reading this tonight, I wonder how God feels about the world today. I think of all the things that are spiraling out of control, even in this country alone, the rising acceptance of homosexuality in today’s culture; the false teachings of cult movements, like wicca; the “worship” of just about everything in popular culture, celebrities, products, etc.; the rising trend of pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse, crime and every other mark against God’s word – it’s a wonder God hasn’t lost His patience yet!

We aren’t so different from the Israelites. All the things that were wrong with their society can be compared to ours. Just think about it. We may not be sacrificing our sons by fire on an altar to the “god” Baal (although you never know), but think of all the other things we offer up as our idols. It’s a falling world!

OK, I think I should pause because I think I’m starting to seem like a downer. There is an upside. God is merciful. Yes, it is true, someday, God’s patience will run out and the end of days will commence, ushering in a whole new era of glory for His believers. No one knows when that last straw will come, but in the meantime, we should be spending this time spreading His Word to others, and also making sure that we are living by His Word ourselves! For the Israelites, it took several hundred years for God to turn His back on the nation. It has been 2,000 years since Christ, and I could argue that things have gotten worse. I’m just saying.

So what’s the point? God is patient – more than he needs to be – so we should be forever thankful for this mercy! But, there will come a day, and it has been foretold, that this patience will run out. It happened to them, and eventually, it will happen to us. So, in short, praise God for his mercy! But also, pray for this dying world. The last straw is coming.

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