2 Kings 20-21, Nahum 2
I watched a MythBusters episode recently whereas they tested a phenomenon some know colloquially as “elephant toothpaste”. They mixed hydrogen peroxide, yeast, water, liquid dish soap, and food coloring to create a bizarre effect, a substance that expands dramatically as it comes out of whatever container it’s being held in.
None of these ingredients are particularly massive, but when combined with each other (and oxygen, of course), the substance grows, in a way, into an unnatural proportion.
We like to mix things. Alcoholic beverages mixed with other ingredients can improve its quality. Certain foods work well together in a recipe. Iron infused with carbon creates steel. And for some reason, my wife thinks chocolate ice cream with gummy bears and cookie dough is tasty.
But mixtures can also go terribly wrong. What happens if you replace sugar with salt in your favorite cookie recipe? Or what if the iron ore is mixed with a different gas? And, as tested on the same Mythbusters episode, putting dry ice in a bottle full of water and capping it can produce catastrophic results.
In the Bible, we see a couple of examples of mixtures that don’t work out so well.
The problem with Judah is manifold, but really, it’s about how the nation could not seem to shake off worshiping false gods. What we discover in 2 Kings is that Hezekiah allows for Babylonian vassals to come in and check out all of his neat stuff, which is typical for a kingdom to do for its visitors (kinda like showing your friends your new flatscreen), but God had already warned Judah and Israel several times about letting other nations influence them. Hezekiah had unwittingly opened the door for a takeover, which Isaiah promptly warns him about.
While mixing foreign influences isn’t really a big deal, especially in the U.S., God had set apart the nation of Israel — and its broken-off kingdom of Judah — for His work on earth, yet the people and reigning authorities kept toying with this special arrangement, setting up altars in high places and sacrificing to gods of other nations. This mixture proves to be hazardous, both to the integrity of God’s people and the stability of their own kingdom.
(I was helped out here: http://www.gotquestions.org/Nineveh-destroyed.html)
Israel/Judah has been frustrated by the nasty nation of Assyria for a long time — which, as pointed out multiple times in the Bible, is really a method of judgment against Israel for continuing in their disobedience. However, Nahum prophecies that Assyria’s capital, Nineveh, will be utterly destroyed. Extra-biblical historical records prove that this did occur.
What’s unusual about Nineveh’s destruction is who participated in its demise. Typically, one nation might have something to do with an empire’s final days, or perhaps internal struggle, but history proves that Nineveh goes down at the hands of multiple nations at the same time.
You see, no one liked Assyria, and for good reason. Assyria had a reputation for bloodthirst and complete annihilation of its surrounding neighbors. They picked too many fights. In a manner of speaking, they got “mixed up” in other peoples’ affairs. While they had a nice period of utmost domination, their end was swift and final.
We are alive for one purpose: to serve God. And we’re all different — we’re going to serve Him and glorify Him in a variety of ways as we spend our days on earth — but that doesn’t mean we should dabble in other “mixtures,” allowing influences outside what God has asked us to do and be to permeate our character.
Letting disobedience, rebellion, and outright sin become stirred into our devotion to God creates compromised integrity. We find ourselves speaking highly of God, but, in secret, doing things that don’t please Him.
The ultimate destructive combination, however, is the mixture of God and self. Jesus is very specific about how we must follow Him:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
It’s not exotic, but it’s simple. Let us continue to serve God, and serve Him only.