May 5

Sin at the edges finds its way to the center

“And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right.” (2 Kings 17:9) How many great moral failures begin in this way. It begins in secret, and then it moves in onto the edges of our lives, done out of the sight of those we do not want to see it. Then, gradually, it moves more and more into the center of our lives until we find ourselves openly doing what would have at one point seemed unimaginable.

By this point you have grown accustomed to reading as each new king comes and another goes that “the high places were not removed,” or that “he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.” Both point to the worship of the false gods of the neighboring nations. The people of God had set up altars to these false gods in the high places, removed from daily life where you could pretend they didn’t exist until you wanted to go to them. As you read through these chapters and see this mantra quoted again and again, you should realize that most moral collapses do not happen overnight. Often they are measured in years and generations. But the collapse always comes.

We read of the full fruition of their sin as it finds it’s way to the center in 2 Kings 16. King Ahaz desiring to please the King of Assyria, and assuming the role of subservience to this more powerful nation, sacrifices his own children to the false gods, gave the King of Assyria the treasures of the Temple, placed within the Temple of the Lord the altar to Haddad, the Assyrian god. He desecrates the Temple of God because he desires to please the King of Assyria.

But as we see in chapter 17, God will not sit idly by. The very nation they sought to please becomes their destroyers. As you read the words of God’s outrage, we ought to find agreement with them. How could it be that the very nation God raised up, made His chosen people, delivered time and again from their sin and oppressors, could desecrate His temple in this way? The answer is that sin at the edges always finds its way to the center.

What sin are you allowing on the edges, borders, and fringes of your life? What things are you setting up as idols (things you love more than God)? How are you justifying their presence?