Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness.
God is condemning Israel’s nominal religiosity. God has a problem with it because it is a pretense of faith. The people paid lip service to God when they mentioned His name. There was nothing truthful or righteous about the way they spoke of the Lord.
John also condemns nominal Christians in the church as being anti-Christs. Nominal Christians are also believers in name only. They may be in the church but they do not walk in the light, believe in the gospel, or love the brethren. They are the lukewarm water that Jesus said He would spew out of His mouth.
It is precisely because of Israel’s lack of faith that God announced His intentions with the Babylonian exile but brought it to pass so quickly that all would see that He did it, not their idols.
I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass. Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
When we turn away from God to idols we attribute our fortunes to their power. These days people tend to trust their own hard work and cleverness to get them what they want or think they need. For others their idol can be blind luck. But believers must reject this kind of thinking because the Bible teaches us that God is involved in our lives. He calls us to entrust everything to Him and He promises to show us the pathway to take. Therefore we are supposed to look to Him with anticipation about what He is going to do and then acknowledge Him with praise after He has done it. This is how God gets the glory.
Don’t linger in the place where your lips are close but your heart is far away from the Lord.