2 Kings - Idolatry

Background

2 Kings 1-13 preserves the details of Elisha's ministry which ranged from about 850-800 B.C. Elisha is the successor of the prophet Elijah. There are more miracles by this prophet than anyone else in the Old Testament. His miracles serve as a reminder that God is interested in the minor details in our lives and continues to work miracles even in "insignificant" things.

2 Kings continues with the history of Israel which has been divided and the two kingdoms fall into idolatry. The book relates the story of 12 kings of the Northern Kingdom (called Israel) and 16 kings of the Southern Kingdom (called Judah). Of these kings, only two - Hezekiah and Josiah - are called good. The evil kings thought that they could control their nation's destiny by importing foreign religions. Their sins led to their fall to Assyria in 722 B.C.

Theme

(2 Ki 17:7-9 NIV) 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 {8} 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. {9} 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.

Clearly expressed in the ten commandment is the command: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image ... thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" (Ex. 20:4,5).

The people in 2 kings were guilty of idolatry and they paid dearly for it. As Christians in the twentieth century, we also have to ask ourselves if we are guilty of the same thing.

It is possible even for Christians to serve idols

If we have uncovered any idols in our lives, we have to tear them down.

(2 Kings 11:18 NIV) All the people of the land went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols to pieces and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

The most drastic treatment of an idol is to eliminate it totally from the scene. It is common in those days to not only destroy the idols but also kill all the priests associated with idol worship.

This would be the most appropriate action if Christians are guilty of worshipping another deity. However, the most common situation facing Christians today is that we have attributed too much importance to some aspects of our life and this is robbing God of the number one position in our life. The idols by themselves are usually not bad in themselves if they occupy the correct place in our lives. For example, working hard to pursue our careers is a good thing in itself but if carried to such an extent that we do not have time for God, then it becomes an idol.

Having determined that some idols in our lives are not right, we should set time-specific goals to remedy the situation. Try reducing the importance of the idols first. If our job causes us to have insufficient time for God, we can determine to have a certain number of hours each day and week set aside for God. This means spending less time at the office.

If this fails, we may have to remove the idol altogether. This may mean changing jobs.

Conclusion

The removal of idols are difficult. Some activities are so entrenched in our lives that their removal is painful. Nonetheless, the Bible promises that everyone who puts God first will have their rewards.

(Matthew 6:33 NIV) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.