Learn About/Subscribe:
Christian Union

A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Christian_Struggling“So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried….these nations feared the Lord and also served their carved images.” –2 Kings 17:33, 41

In 2 Kings 17, we read of how the Israelites were deported to Assyria “because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God” (2 Kings 17:7). In their place, the king of Assyria settled peoples from other nations to take possession of the cities and the land. After lions attacked and killed some of them, they sent for a priest to teach them the “law of the god of the land.” Responding to the teaching of these priests, the people learned to “fear the LORD,” but they also continued to serve and worship their former gods.

The peoples who settled in Israel’s territory wanted the benefits of being under God’s protection, but they didn’t want to give up the familiar practices of their former religions. In the end, their plan failed: the author clarifies that the result of this effort to combine fearing the Lord with serving other gods is that “they do not fear the Lord” (v. 34). This should come as no surprise: the exclusivity of God’s claims upon His people are evidenced throughout the Bible, from the commandment that “you shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) to Jesus’ teaching that “no one can serve two masters” (Mt. 6:24).

Religious syncretism is practiced throughout history and throughout the world; humans love to pick and choose those elements of different religions that they find most appealing while ignoring those elements that cause discomfort. Christians in the US are not immune to this temptation. While we may be unlikely to incorporate rituals from other religions into our worship services, the syncretistic adoption of worldly values, mindsets, and priorities is all too common. “Of course, I fear the LORD,” we say…yet at the same time our lives show evidence that we also fear what others think, and we worship financial success, and we obey the dictates of popular culture. We want the benefits of a relationship with God, yet we are unwilling to give up the perceived benefits of our devotion to other things.

I sometimes read the Old Testament and am incredulous that people were so foolish and hard-hearted. How did they not understand? Didn’t they know that other gods are mere figments of human imagination? Didn’t they understand that He is a jealous God? Didn’t they know that only in serving the Lord alone would they find true security, peace, and fulfillment?

I find the Holy Spirit leading me to ask the same questions of myself today. Pray with me that we would serve the Lord wholeheartedly and that we would cast aside anything that is incongruent with our service of Him. Pray that we would grasp more profoundly the incomparable worth of knowing Christ and be willing to throw in our lot with Him completely , denying all other claims upon our lives and hearts.

Lorri Bentch
Vice President of Operations