And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the Lord. Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So the king of Assyria was told, “The nations that you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land.” Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there, and let him go and dwell there and teach them the law of the god of the land.” So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the Lord.
But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. They also feared the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 2 Kings 17:24-33.
After Assyria took Israel captive, they filled the land with imported idolators from the far flung reaches of their empire. But the Lord didn’t want any idols, so he sent lions to terrify them. So the Assyrian king recruited a Jewish priest to teach God’s ways, and that stopped the lion attacks. But it did not stop the idolatry! The Lord just became one of the gods they worshiped.
God may have tolerated this on some level because these were not the people of His covenant. They didn’t know better, and God’s judgment is always harder on those who know better.
That is why I harp on believers who are lukewarm or unobservant. Those of us who claim to know Christ and to follow His ways are held to a different standard. That is why the world can mock your slackness in faith while they celebrate the murder of unborn children and all manner of sexual perversion. The blind need a brighter light to see. And that’s on us.