There is such a strong lesson for modern believers in the errors of ancient Israel.
They didn’t stop worshipping God. They just changed what that meant.
Instead of following God’s prescription for worship, they decided they had a better way. Why travel all the way to Jerusalem? That spot on the hill will work just as well! Why limit ourselves to only one god? If worshipping one is good, maybe worshipping ten is ten times as good! Why only make the sacrifices God called for? If sacrificing a lamb is good, maybe sacrificing a child is even better?
I know. It sounds foolish. We would never fall into such foolishness.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me.” But many people say, “I follow Jesus, but there are many ways to god, so you do you.”
Jesus said, “Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done for me.” But many who claim to follow Him say, “They got themselves into this mess, they can get themselves out.” Or they believe that some personality flaw is to blame for the person’s circumstances—they’re lazy, stupid, lack morals, or are looking for a handout.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you.” But many faithful believers will say, “I have to defend my rights, my property, my family.”
Jesus said, “They will know you by your love for one another.” But too often, we spend our time fighting with each other over the volume of the music, the color of the carpet, or the placement of the pulpit. Too often, we are known for our bickering rather than our love.
The consequences for ancient Israel of adding to the worship God prescribed and taking away from the commands He had given were devastating. This chapter tells us that God “thrust them from His presence.”
Have mercy! Think on that phrase for a moment. Can you imagine the pain of being thrust from the presence of God?
Jesus’ work on the cross, which He declared to be finished, means that we never have to be thrust from God’s presence if we have put our trust in Him. Through the cross, we have access to return to the Lord despite our failures. When God looks at us, He sees only His Son’s perfection, rather than our imperfections.
We don't need to, and In fact, cannot, add anything to the salvation God has given. Our failures do not negate the grace He has given.