By Dustin Allman
Pastor, The Fort Church, Kingsport
Focal Passage: II Kings 17:7-20
Most of us have heard of Babe Ruth, but have you heard of Babe Pinelli? Pinelli was an umpire in Major League Baseball who once called Babe Ruth out on strikes. When the crowd booed in disapproval of the call, Babe turned to the umpire and said “There’s 40,000 people here who know that pitch was a ball.”
The coaches and players braced for a swift ejection, but instead, Pinelli responded coolly, “Maybe so, Babe, but mine is the only opinion that counts.” In life it’s easy to get caught up in the opinions of others, but in the end, it’s not our fans or critics by whom we will be judged, only God.
In II Kings 17:7-17 the writer gives a mini sermon to explain why Israel went off into exile. One could give numerous reasons for their downfall, but the writer is ultimately concerned with the root problem.
In fact, the writer makes it clear by repetition. The verb “fear” is echoed throughout this chapter with either (Yahweh) God or “other gods” as the object – no fewer than eight times. That verb can also be translated as “worship” or “revere.” The people had a long history of looking to other things for provision, joy, security and salvation!
God redeems — don’t reject Him! Even after circumstances change, God doesn’t change. The writer is calling our attention to the exodus story and the giving of the Ten Commandments in verse 7. After God redeemed Israel from Pharoah and slavery in Egypt, they still sought other gods.
This doesn’t reflect a heart of gratitude! If we’re not grateful, we might be trying to earn elsewhere what God has freely given to us! Gratitude always turns what we have into ENOUGH! God is enough! Idols can never give us grace; they can only enslave us! Consider what God has delivered you from!
God satisfies — don’t resist Him! The issue of worship is the root problem, the writer says. But he goes on to list the fruits of that root. An unhealthy root will bring bad fruit. The results of idolatry are numerous, but he boils it down to living immoral lives and worshiping many false gods.
We may not worship statues or a golden calf, but we still bow down at the altar of many material objects. If money is your idol, you will never have enough.
If you don’t have it, it can crush you. If success or being popular is your idol, you will pursue one accomplishment after another, never finding satisfaction. These false gods cannot bring hope. They will only bring enslavement; never liberating joy!
God warns — don’t rebel! Israel knew better! God gave them the Law and told them how to live. He reminded them again and again! He sent prophets. But Israel would not listen.
They had hardened their hearts to God and continued in rebellion. The kingdom had split and to exile they would go. They chose to persist in sin. What appears to be very clear by the end of the chapter is that not even exile will change them in the short term.
The whole chapter calls us to examine our lives. Make a list of all the things you’re grateful for. Enjoy them! Steward them! But worship the Creator, not created things. Where there is bad fruit, there is a bad root. B&R