In this passage we come to the end of the northern kingdom of Israel. After a succession of bad kings, it culminates with the reign of Hoshea. The interesting thing to me is that he wasn’t the worst of the kings of Israel. If I were God, I’d probably have exiled the Israelites during the time of Ahab or one of the other horrible kings of Israel.
Don’t get me wrong. Hoshea was an evil king. But it says of him in verse 2,
He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but not like the kings of Israel who preceded him.
In other words, he was bad, but not so bad compared to the kings that had come before him. And yet when God’s final judgment on Israel came, it came during his reign.
Sometimes we look at the people around us and say, “I’m not so bad. I don’t kill anybody. I try to be nice. Sure I do some bad things, but I’m better than this person or that person.” And we think that just because we are better than some of the other people around us, that we’re probably acceptable to God.
But the truth is, we’re not. The Israelites sometimes sinned very publicly in worshiping false gods, and sometimes they sinned in private. It says in verse 9,
The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord that were not right.
But whether committed in secret or in public, God sees it all. The main problem with the Israelites is found in verses 14-17. They would not listen to God and they were stiff-necked, not trusting him. As a result, they started following worthless idols, and became worthless themselves, following the practices of the people around them, and falling deeper and deeper into sin.
And the same can happen to us. When we refuse to listen to God, and refuse to trust him, when we start following the sinful practices of the people around us, and follow the gods of money, sex, etc, we become worthless ourselves. And sooner or later, judgment will come. It doesn’t matter whether we’re better than others or not. Judgment will come to them, certainly. But judgment will certainly come to us as well.
So let us not fool ourselves into thinking we’re okay just because there are others worse than us. Rather, let us turn from our sin, put our trust in God, listen to him, and follow him each day. And as we do, we’ll find God’s blessing, presence, and favor in our lives.