God cries out against the people who have pretended to return. They have altered God’s Laws in their pretense of returning. This is NOT acceptable to God.
I came across a term I heard MANY times as a child; “backsliding.” I was raised in the Pentecostal Church of God and this word was used quite frequently. It was used for anyone who committed ANY sin. It was also used in conjunction with the idea of needing to be saved again every time you “backslid.” I don’t believe that is the depth of the word God uses here. And, yes, I looked at many English translations and found this word in quite a few of them. Others used “apostacy” or “continual turning away” instead.
The people of Judah haven’t committed single small failings but have walked completely away from their relationship with God and into the arms of other gods. Apostacy. But then things got even worse, if you can imagine that. They pretended to return.
I’m wondering about this return. Was this during the time of Josiah? If so, did Josiah realize that God’s words had been changed? Did he know that, over the years, the priests had made the Law ‘comfortable’ for the people? I only say it had been changed because God said so. Maybe it was changed after Josiah’s time. I would hope that was the case for his heart was TRULY dedicated to pleasing the Lord.
I wonder what it was that was changed in it. God has been paying attention to everything that has been going on. He knows EVERY spot where His words have been altered. He is not fooled by their pretense of returning to Him. And I have a feeling that the people are not fooled either. If they had been truly deceived, I don’t know if God would have held them ALL responsible, from the lowest to the highest. Their hearts were probably telling them something was wrong and they refused to listen to it.
By the time Jesus came along, there had been MANY additions to the Law. It wasn’t easier but harder to meet the standards. Jesus told the Pharisees that they made the Law so heavy that none could lift it. Were these additions after the return from Babylon or before? Probably a bit of both.
This brings me to ask another question. How did the average man study God’s word in truth if it had been so twisted by those in authority? Many of the people couldn’t read and there were NOT copies of God’s words in every house. My heart aches for those who truly wanted to follow the Lord but were fed lies instead. With so many false prophets out there too, how did they know who to trust?
Today, we have Bibles in nearly every language available throughout the world. Some places it is illegal to own a Bible but scripture is smuggled into those who are hungry for His words. But we still have those who will twist His words, distribute their ‘version’ to those they can convince to follow them, and lead them even farther away from God than when they started searching. I believe God has a special spot in Hell for those people!
With all this, though, there are those who won’t even open God’s word. It lies gathering dust on the shelf, visible to others who enter the home as ‘proof’ they are Christians. They think they are getting all they need from the pulpit or ‘remember’ all the stories so have no need to read it again. I admit to having some of this same attitude at times in my life. But I have learned that I wither and die without time in God’s word. EVERY story has layers we will never reach if we only read them once. And it is too easy to be misled unless you look for the truth yourself. Be open to instruction but be willing to check it out for yourself. If the average man in Judah had taken this attitude, what would their history have been like? Would the whole nation have been taken into captivity? Would their leaders have been able to introduce idolatry to them?
Father God, THANK YOU that even creation speaks of You. No one can say they didn’t know. Those who truly desire to love You will find declarations of Your love in all that You have made.
THANK YOU for drawing me back into searching Your word too. Thank You for making the stories come alive. For drawing me deeper into Your word every time we sit together. I want to know Your heart! To truly pay attention to Your stories and how You would have me to apply them to my own life. I want NO OTHER gods in my life. And I don’t want to be taken in by anyone who has twisted Your truth. Holy Spirit, I trust YOU to direct me in my seeking and to turn me completely away from any who would try to fool me into believing ‘twisted truths’, no matter where they come from. Guide and guard my journey all the way home.