Maybe you know certain people who are really healthy, the kind of people who, after a workout, talk about what a great workout it was. When you go out to eat with them, you just don’t feel good about ordering that burger when they’re having their salad of tofu and kale. Their choices influence you to make better choices.
Then there are people who eat every fattening thing on earth, and when you’re with them, you know it will be your downfall.
This can happen in our spiritual lives as well. There are certain people who will bring you down spiritually. They don’t like you to talk about your faith, but they like to tell dirty jokes or slander people. Or, they’re filled with anger. And after you hang out with them for a while, it brings you down.
That is what happened with the Israelites. God kept warning them to stop turning to idols. But they kept worshipping false gods because all the pagan nations around them did. God sent prophets to warn them that judgment would come, yet they continued. So the Lord allowed the Babylonians to conquer them, and they were carried off to the distant land of Babylon for 70 long years.
Ultimately Babylon was conquered by the Medo-Persians, and the Jewish people were allowed to return to their homeland. After the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt, Ezra brought God’s Word to the people. They were deeply moved and wept over their sin. The Bible tells us, “Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners as they confessed their own sins and the sins of their ancestors” (Nehemiah 9:2 NLT).
The Israelites separated themselves from ungodly influences. We need to do the same. Get away from people or places that pull you down spiritually.