To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the LORD, and they do not follow the statutes or the rules or the law or the commandment that the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel. The LORD made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, but you shall fear the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, but you shall fear the LORD your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner.
– 2 Kings 17:34-40
The Israelites were asking, “Can I serve an idol, but also fear the Lord? Can I worship the one true God, but hedge my bets with a little diversification?”
The Lord had warned Israel by every prophet and every seer in their land that they should not serve idols. But they thought they found a loophole. They thought maybe they could serve the Lord and serve the idols. This was not a loophole. It was a simple contradiction to God’s covenant. This wasn’t a bending, but a breaking, of the commandment.
Service flows downstream from fear. We serve the god we fear. The Lord was the one to be feared, not the made-up pieces of furniture. And he wanted the Israelites to act accordingly. But they were serving other gods right along with him.
Who I’m serving tells me whom I’m fearing. Am I serving only the Lord and those whom the Lord has told me to serve? Or is the fear of someone or something else causing me to elevate something else to be worthy of my service?
I often believe the lie that the New Testament gospel has rid us of a reason to fear God, but Jesus said himself, “Do not fear this who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” I’m not saying our service should be because we’re afraid of being thrown into hell. The gospel actually has rid believers of that reason, praise God. But Jesus is still the king over everyone. He’s not weaker or gentler than the Old Testament God. He alone is worthy to be feared and served.
God, I’ve been trying to serve you and other people. The truth is I fear them like I fear you. I believe that what they think of me will impact me as much as what you think of me. That’s obviously wrong, but I keep serving. Forgive me. You will not share your glory with another man or piece of cut stone or wood. I have peace and joy in my heart asking for this forgiveness because I know that, though your power is great to exact revenge on me, you have already exacted it on your Son. Send more of your Spirit today to fix my eyes on serving you and nothing else.
This post is part of my Weekly REAP series. I’m posting these from my personal journal to share what God is teaching me, and to give some practical examples of the REAP method. I didn’t write any of these with publishing in mind, so forgive me if they don’t always wax eloquent. Here is some more information on the REAP study method.