I will afflict David’s offspring because of what Solomon has done, but I won’t cause this suffering forever.1 KINGS 11:39
The words of God rang loud. And echoed true.
The twelve tribes of Israel — the united kingdom of Israel —became divided kingdoms. The ten tribes of the north became the Northern Kingdom, with its capital in Samaria. The two southern tribes became the Southern Kingdom, Judah, and its capital was Jerusalem.
Two hundred years gave Israel nineteen kings. For that same number of years, rebellion, wickedness, evil, and idolatry sat on the throne and ruled Israel. Goodness never reigned. God never reigned. Not from the throne. Not in the hearts of the people.
Three hundred forty-five years gave Judah a total of twenty kings. Nineteen. (One queen. One evil, foreign queen.) Out of the twenty who reigned, only five were righteous. When they sat on Judah’s throne, the people worshiped the LORD God. When evil ruled the throne, it controlled the hearts of the people as well.
The LORD God loved His chosen people and sent prophets to speak to them on His behalf. Some prophets spoke to the kings, and some spoke to the people.
These prophets begged the kings and the people to return to the LORD God, warning them of the consequences of their disobedience, warning the people God loved.
Can you imagine? Turning away from the One who loves you? The One who chose you? The One who made you what you are? Who you are?
It’s easy to sit here three thousand years later, with the scriptures in hand, and judge the fickleness of those chosen people. The ease at which they would turn from the One true God. Well, it’s always easier to judge others, right?
But I have turned away from God to lesser gods. No, I have never worshiped Baal. But I have worshiped my desire for a perfect family. I have bowed to a position. A dream home. A lifestyle. Success.
And anything that takes priority over my time spent with God becomes my god. Oh, it’s a slow, unintentional fade. But it happens. Too easily.
What about you? What is it that too easily becomes your god? What pushes God to the periphery of your heart?
Father, I am often so deaf to Your love. It’s easy for me to look at the Israelites and think, How could they turn away from the One who loved them so well? And then I pause. And remember how easy it is to get caught up in the world around me. To keep up. Or to blend so I don’t offend.
It’s always a slow fade, Lord. In wanting to love the world around me, it’s tempting to become like the world around me. Give me ears to hear You speak. Unite my heart to Yours, Lord. Amen.
Even at Christmas – especially at Christmas —it’s easy to be satisfied with making a little room for Jesus. The tinsel and trees. The bells and bows. The lights and the lists. Accessories that somehow drown out the dress and take center stage. Become the main event.
I love the accessories of Christmas as much as anyone. And I have been guilty of making a little room for Jesus.
But He is deserving of so much more.
As we still await Christmas, let’s be careful to keep our hope in Him.
May we all move closer to the manger.