John Calvin famously said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual forge of idols”. Or as Tim Keller has phrased it, an idol factory.
We are prone to worship and give our allegiance to idols (things that are not God), thus sinning by breaking the first two commandments.
In Old Testament times, Samuel said to the people of Israel:
“If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3)
The Israelites had succumbed to the false idols of that day and age.
They worshipped and gave their allegiance to Baal and Ashtoreth, tribal deities of the surrounding nations.
Samuel said that if the Israelites wanted to repent and turn to God their repentance must be tangible and will be difficult.
In Old Testament times, God had promised to give the land of Canaan to the Israelites (Genesis 12:1-3).
Under Joshua the Israelites invaded the land and conquered a great deal of it. The book of Judges is the follow-up account. Would the next generation believe God’s promise, obey God’s word and nail down their territory with a final conquest?
The people of the land of Canaan, the Canaanites, worshipped various tribal deities. The most popular was Baal and his female counterpart, Ashtoreth – the gods of fertility.
But rather than conquer the land and destroy its people, the Israelites compromised their faith and ended up following the false gods and wrong practices of the Canaanites.
King Manasseh is a conundrum. He was the most evil king Judah ever had and yet he was the longest reigning king. (cf. 2 Chronicles 33) In the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles every king’s life is summed up either by, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” or “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” No matter what the king’s military gains, political accomplishments, feats of bravery or economic successes, in the end it boiled down to this one thing.