Why do you think the people “really” let their slaves go free in the first place? Was it that they were finally being obedient to God’s covenant command? Perhaps it was because it was hard being responsible for additional people in your household when a foreign army is attacking. What do you think?
God saw their actions. He saw them repent and do what was right. They freed those fellow Hebrews and even made a solemn covenant with God in the temple. How pleased God must have been to see this take place!
God also saw the people revoke that covenant when they took their slaves back again. How God’s anger must have burned at his disobedient children! There was no choice but to punish them, right? Would you agree this punishment matched the disregard the people had for their vow and the human beings they enslaved? God promised them, “I will set you free to be destroyed by war, disease, and famine.”
This is only one example of Israel’s failure to keep their side of the covenant relationship with God. We’ve seen time and again how this willful people challenged God, balked at his authority, and did things their “own” way. They displayed total disregard for the one true God who had rescued them and set them apart as his own chosen people. God watched all this transpire, and his fury was about to boil over.
How could the Israelite people truly believe that God would look the other way? They should remember what happened to everybody except their ancestor Noah, his family, and the animals God chose to repopulate the world. For all those who lost their lives, was God looking the other way? Disobedience to God does not end well. Do we fear what God may think about us and our behavior?
Some people say that God isn’t like that anymore. That because he sent Jesus, he is now a “loving” God. The apostle Paul, also an Israelite, makes it pretty clear in Romans 11 that God is both loving and severe. “He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off.”
God is watching you. Does he see someone who trusts him with their life? Or do you feel weak at times, unsure you are following God’s ways? Where else are you placing your trust? In yourself or some other human institution? These are serious questions I want to get right. Rather than frighten you, may your reflection reinforce the faithfulness of your behavior or encourage you to make the necessary changes to put God first.
The Israelites didn’t have that awe and wonder for God. They simply saw that their doom had passed after letting their slaves go, so they enslaved them once again. Bad decision. They forgot their vow.
Just because things are going good in our lives is no reason to turn away from God. Ever. Isn’t it better to be giving God the praise and honor for allowing the good things to happen to you? Take a moment to give God the glory for something happening in your life right now.
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you for how you watch over me and protect me. When bad things happen, help me turn to you for guidance and strength. When good things happen, remind me to turn to you giving you the thanks you deserve. Forgive me for those times when I have ignored you and broken my promises. I want to restore our relationship. I trust you with my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.