The king of Assyria sent people to settle Samaria in place of the Israelires. When they first went there, they did not fear the Lord, so He sent lions among them and killed some of them. They blamed the deaths on not knowing the rituals of the God of the land, so the king sent a priest from Israel there to teach them. He taught them a respect for the Lord, even though they did not worship Him. The Babylonians worshiped an idol of Succoth Benoth, the Cuthites made Nergal, and the Hamathites made Ashima, the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech. But, in part, they feared the Lord, yet served their own gods. Eventually, though, they did not fear the Lord, and fully served other gods. The covenant with God and the land was neglected and forsaken.
Hezekiah reigned in Judah, through the fall of Israel. He did what was right in the sight of the Lord. He removed the high places, broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses made. They had called the serpent Nehushtan, and burned incense to it. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel, and there was never again a king like him. The Lord was with him and he prospered wherever he went. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He subdued the Philistines, and saw Israel taken into captivity because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God. After Israel was taken, Sennacherib king of Assyria came against Judah, but they were not taken away captive. However, they did play tribute to the king, three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.
This is a picture of two types of believers. The first, like Israel, did not live by the covenant of salvation, served other gods, and were taken into captivity. The second, like Judah, had done wrong at times, but was now living in covenant with the Lord again, but still had to suffere the consequences of some of their prior actions, yet maintained their freedom. Where are you on this continuum? Are you living in the covenant of God’s will and His blessings? Or are you serving other gods and facing captivity and description? I submit that each of us should evaluate our walk with God and when faced with our own sinfulness, simply repent and ask for God’s mercy on our sins. We should not live in condemnation, but we should hear the convicting tones of the Holy Spirit and live holy as God calls us out of the world and into a closer fellowship with Him. Remove the high places, cut down the wooden images, and even break in pieces the religious idols of days gone by. Don’t let an image of healing become an idol like Nehushtan. Serve the Lord, and Him only.