A prophet named Azariah came to Asa after that battle and prophesied to Him in the name of Jehovah. This was his prophecy: "Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 15:2
After hearing this prophecy there was also information that was given to us about that period of Judah’s history. For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. Spiritually it was a dark and difficult time. It was a very idolatrous time as well. Their idolatry had cost the nation dearly – and in this hour they turned from their idolatry and made a covenant with the living God, Jehovah.
It is in this context that the following statement is made by the people as they made this covenant.
“They entered into the covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and soul; and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. Moreover, they made an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns.
There is something about this covenant that may disturb some in our day. It is the statement that “. . . whoever would not seek Jehovah God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.” To those of us in our day of multiculturalism – this sounds harsh. Yet, in making their covenant with Jehovah, they were returning to a life lived by the Law of God. One of the things God stressed in His law was the great danger of idolatry. As a reminder of this, we would be wise to review the following passages in the Law concerning idolatry – and the response that God commanded toward it. Here are the three passages that deal with idolatry in the Law of God.
"He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the LORD alone, shall be utterly destroyed. Exodus 22:20
"If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. "But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. "So you shall stone him to death because he has sought to seduce you from the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such a wicked thing among you. Deut. 13:6-11
"If there is found in your midst, in any of your towns, which the LORD your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, by transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded, and if it is told you and you have heard of it, then you shall inquire thoroughly. Behold, if it is true and the thing certain that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out that man or that woman who has done this evil deed to your gates, that is, the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death. "On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. "The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. Deut. 17:2-7
"If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom you have not known), then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. "Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt. "Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand, in order that the LORD may turn from His burning anger and show mercy to you, and have compassion on you and make you increase, just as He has sworn to your fathers, if you will listen to the voice of the LORD your God, keeping all His commandments which I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the LORD your God. Deut, 13:12-18
Two things we need to recognize in order to understand these events in Judah’s history. First, is that this was a commitment among those who were of the nation of Israel. It was a covenant within their own nation to root out any and all idolatry in the land. This was not something that carried over to nations around them – for these nations had not entered into the covenant before God. The very terms of God’s covenant with His people required of them the removal and destruction of idols and those who worshipped them. This was something God took very seriously – as we can see from the passages within the Law. There was no negotiation with those in Israel who would not worship Jehovah – and who chose to worship false gods. This brings us to our second point.
Idolatry in any nation is a very dangerous thing. The reason we do not carry out these commands in the United States is because our nation is not a Theocracy under the Mosaic covenant. Although many of our forefathers desired a godly nation who governed themselves by the 10 Commandments – our nation was not established as a Theocracy – with Jehovah God as our head. But for Israel to return to Jehovah God with all their heart and soul – following the Law in regard to idolatry was not an option – it was commanded.
One additional comment though should be made regarding idolatry in anyone who claims to know and walk with God through Jesus Christ. It is just as hideous a sin now as it was in the day of the Old Testament Law. We are not called to carry out the punishments of the nation of Israel under that Law – but idolatry is just as deadly to us spiritually as it was then. To live as though the false gods of this world are equal with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is sinful and it is wrong. It is called idolatry now – just as it was called idolatry then. Those false gods of the world – even if given different names and worshipped in different ways – are still nothing but false gods. That is something I fear we’ve lost in our Christian thinking today. The God Who condemned idolatry in that day – still condemns it in ours. Or have we forgotten what the New Testament says?
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, Colossians 3:5-6
One of the distinguishing marks of those who were truly saved was that they, “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9) It is something we need to remind ourselves of in this day – that God does not give a pass on idolatry now – just as He did not give one in the day in which 2 Chronicles 15. Because we don’t live in a Theocracy we don’t carry out the sentence given in the Law of Moses. But we should not take that as an encouragement to become idolaters who worship false gods. We also might want to remind ourselves that though idolatry is not a crime now with its corresponding punishment – in the day of judgment – it will be unless we turn from idols by turning to Jesus Christ for salvation – and therefore worship and serve a living and true God – or as Scripture also asserts – THE living and true God.