“And Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God but walked in the statues of Israel which they made” (2 Kings 17:19). Remember the history of the Lord’s people they were once a united people and served God under the reign of the kings Saul, David, and Solomon within the bounds of the Law of Moses. David wrote “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). These men were not perfect and each one sinned, but they held the people of God together under the Law of Moses.
Then the son of Solomon became the next king, Rehoboam, and he rejected the counsel of the older and wiser men which was based upon the principles of the will of God (1 Kings 12:1-15). The decision of Rehoboam to reject the godly counsel of men that respected the Law of Moses brought about a rebellion by Jeroboam and the establishment of the northern kingdom of Israel. Little by little the northern kingdom began to establish their own traditions replacing the Law of Moses with them. One example is when Jeroboam built the two calves of gold and placed one in Bethel and one in Dan. He also made altars and shrines in the high places, which meant places of worship, and allowed anyone from any family to become a priest. He established new feasts apart from the Law of Moses, and all of this to draw the people away from Jerusalem (1 Kings 12”25-33). Little by little the people began to accept the changes and after a couple of generations the changes became their religion.
Judah, the southern kingdom continued to remain faithful to God and generally speaking they too little by little came to depart from the Law of Moses. A few generations later these words were written “And Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God but walked in the statues of Israel which they made” (2 Kings 17:19). What happened to Judah? The first thing that happened was that Judah became negligent in keeping the commands of the Lord. That which was plainly written in the Law of Moses, they were not doing. They were no different than human beings today and they probably found reasons and excuses as to why they could not go to Jerusalem on the appointed days. They probably found reasons and excuses as to why they could not rest on the sabbath. Maybe they had to attend their children’s sporting events or go watch the Roman Cesars play against the Corinthian Leathernecks. Whatever the reason, they began to not keep the will of the Lord.
Like human beings today when the will of the Lord is not in one’s heart then they will look for other things to follow. Judah did not have to look far. They only had to look to their neighbors to the north, some of their own relatives and family to fill the void of not having God’s Word in their hearts. Judah did not even have to invent their own immoralities and godlessness, they simple as the passage says, “walked in the statutes of Israel”. Judah turned away from walking in the statutes of the Lord and began to follow their erring neighbor Israel.
Although Christians today live twenty-five centuries from the time of Judah and Israel, the same thing often happens. The principle is the same for Christians or even congregations of the Lord’s church that begin to set aside the Word of God and walk in the way of denominations or the culture. Let’s not imitate the example of Judah, but let’s continue to walk in God’s way, God’s pattern, and not follow in way of the denominational world or the culture in which we live. The Revelation of Jesus Christ says “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).