Daily Bible Reading: 2 Kings 17

For the LORD had made a covenant with the descendants of Jacob and commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow before them or serve them or offer sacrifices to them. But worship only the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him. Be careful at all times to obey the decrees, regulations, instructions, and commands that he wrote for you. You must not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship other gods. You must worship only the LORD your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” But the people would not listen and continued to follow their former practices. So while these new residents worshiped the LORD, they also worshiped their idols. And to this day their descendants do the same. (​2 Kings 17:35-41 NLT)
After conquering Israel (the northern kingdom), the Assyrians deported the people of Israel and brought in people from other lands to live there. These people brought their idols and their religious practices with them. The syncretism was a clear violation of God’s covenant.
As I read this, I wondered about a couple of things. As outside people were being brought into this land, were they instructed about the covenant relationship with God, and how that covenant prohibited the worship of other gods? And, even if they had received instruction, why would they bother following a prohibition their teachers seemed to treat so lightly?
It seems to me that one of the issues with ancient Israel was that they knew the words of faith, but forgot the substance of it. (I readily acknowledge that they sometimes forgot the words also.) I wonder how often we might do the same thing. We know the right words (and actions), but do those words still contain the substance of the Christian faith, or have they become empty containers? Is it possible our worship is directed toward the words, practices, rituals, and preferences of our religion rather than the living God?
May our faith be in more than words, and songs, and rituals. May our faith be in the living God, through Christ.