In 2 Kings we read about how King after King “did evil in the sight of the LORD.” Over and over they abandon God’s law and His covenant to pursue the gods of neighboring nations. However, there’s an interesting statement in the second half of 2 Kings 17:15: “And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them (NASB).”
Dictionary.com defines vain as “excessively proud of or concerned about one’s own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited.” It’s at the heart of why Israel wandered away from God. They became more concerned about what others thought of them than their image in the eyes of God. They took their eyes off God and focused on how they appeared to others. It’s evidence that humanity hasn’t changed much in thousands of years.
It’s hard not to be drawn into being concerned what others think of us. It can be as simple as a degrading comment from a family member, a friend who gets a promotion at work or even someone who drives a car that’s so much better than the 10 year-old clunker you drive. There is so much in our world that is built on appearances — so much that can detract from our real image in God.
When we lose sight of who we are in God; when we lapse in following God’s law; when we fail to enter into His presence, we miss out on the good things God offers us. Once the Israelites pursued vanity, they become entwined with other nations. Eventually they were taken captive by other nations and evicted from the good land God gave them.
It’s a warning to us about the dangers of getting drawn into the vanity of the world around us. When we lose sight of who God is and what he asks us to do, we fall prey to the destructive nature of vanity. God created you with purpose. In Him you will find your true worth.
© 2022, Chris G Thelen
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)