They Feared God, but Served Idols

2Ki 17:33  They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

Recently I preached a message from this text, the premise of which I have not been able to let go. Here we have a group of people that have been taught “how” to fear the Lord by not “why” to do so.

2Ki 17:28  Then one of the priests … taught them HOW they should fear the LORD.

These people were not servants of the most high God but were immigrants brought in to populate the cities of the Southern Kingdom.  Shortly after resettling to Judah they began suffering horrid attacks by lions.  They determined this to be judgment by the ‘God of the land’ and sought help in learning how to please this God whom they did not know.  A priest was sent to them… 

2Ki 17:27  Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests …and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.

But here is the rub, the preacher taught them only the “how” of godly worship and not the “why” of godly worship!  To properly serve God requires a new heart.  In other words, their problem was on the inside, so no matter how much ‘good’ they would do they could not please God.  You see, only God can please God.  Paul taught us this very truth…

Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

You will only ‘work out’ what God Himself ‘works in’ to your heart.  

This fatal mistake would lead them with religion but not relationship.  The result of ‘fearing’ God in form and not in substance is revealed in our text verse.

2Ki 17:33  They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

This certainly appears to be solid evidence of the source of our nation’s ills at this time.  We have raised a nation that served God in form but not in heart.  They put a ’21 Corvette body over a rusted, blown motor from a ’74 Pacer!  Outside it was beautiful but inside it was full of dead men’s bones.

Today, as you step out to serve our God and King, ensure your heart is right with Him.  Do that which is right in the sight of God WITH a perfect heart (2 Chron. 19:9; 25:2).  Then, and only then, will it be said of you that you both “feared the Lord and served Him as your God.”  You are loved and appreciated!  Go get’em today!