“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria…
This occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God… and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before [them]… They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree… [and] served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, ‘You shall not do this…’
And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities instead of the people of Israel… And at the beginning.., they did not fear the Lord. Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So the king of Assyria was told, ‘The nations that you have.. placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them…’ Then the king of Assyria commanded, ‘Send one of the priests whom you carried away from there, and let him go and dwell there and teach them the law of the god of the land.’ So one of the priests… came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the Lord.
But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made… They also feared the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away… So these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.” 2 Kings 17:6-12,24-29,32-33,41
“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” Isaiah 42:8
When only God is worthy of praise, adoration, and allegiance, there can be no dividing of loyalties, no sharing or intermingling of worship. Yet time and again the Israelites did just that, raising one hand to their Deliverer and Provider while dipping the other in the pot of heathen stew. Stubbornly refusing God’s appeals to repent, they were taken into exile. Then those who replaced them fell into the same routine of man-prescribed blended worship, and this syncretism continued for generations.
What divides a whole heart? What causes us to drift from friends who sharpen our faith, who help us grow wise and remain pure? What repels us from full obedience? Are we too easily enticed by a taste of this and that, by what we think strange gods will add, or by the sensual favors we might indulge if we’re not restricted? Our flesh wearies of commitment and craves license for self-absorbed expression, but no sin pleasure is lasting. (Proverbs 13:20; 14:12; 27:17; Hebrews 11:25)
Because He knows our mixed loyalties, God offers mercy by His written and spoken word, and gives generous grace to say no to foreign gods. Honoring Him as supreme supplies hope for victory today and forever. (Psalm 103:11-14; Titus 2:11-14)
Worthy Lord, help me exalt Your glory alone, never my own.