The angel’s message from God was pretty clear. The Israelites had messed up by disobeying God’s command. Our last reading said they had “failed” to drive out the Canaanites. Did that mean they didn’t even try? Or is it that they should have tried harder and never accepted defeat because that meant they were ultimately “disobeying” God?
Sometimes in life we have to be prepared to read between the lines and understand what is intended. When we start to make assumptions that our actions are “good enough” without striving to be what God wants us to be, maybe we’re being disobedient, too. We can’t say we didn’t get the memo. We’ve got God’s word right here in our hands. Now it’s up to us to read it. He wants to bless us!
The Israelites fell short of their goal. God did not understand why, and he certainly wasn’t pleased. The angel now told them the consequence of their “failure.” “So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”
Notice the plural gods here. The Canaanites had a god for just about everything. Adding one more god was nothing to them. But our God, and the God the Israelites knew, was the one and only true God. There should be no place in our hearts for other gods or idols. The Israelites didn’t seem to understand the significance of the distinction. Sometimes, we can fall prey to worshiping our own idols.
There’s a bit of a flashback here to Joshua. It’s helpful to remember the past when making decisions in the future. Even more important is to recall what God has done in the lives of his people. The story we can draw upon is so much richer than the Israelites we read about here. There have been many more “memos” from God for us to learn from. We also have Jesus, the Messiah.
Think of the truth we have access to! We have God’s word, the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and forgiveness of sins, as well as the promise of ultimate victory when Jesus returns. Yet, we may have also abandoned God. Have we questioned him for what is happening in this world? Have we been more self-focused than focused on serving the needs of others.
We see how God responds when his children are disobedient. He got angry. He allowed some bad things to happen. I’m not trying to say that all the bad things happening in the world today are because God is angry with us. Some people do believe this. Based on this passage, I can see why they do.
Whether or not we are enduring God’s wrath or not is not the issue here. For me, it’s repenting of my sins because that’s what I want to do. I am forever indebted to my heavenly Father for giving me an abundant life with the promise of living with him eternally. Not to mention all the grace and mercy he so freely offers! I want him to know my gratitude. I don’t like it when I mess up.
The angel left the people very upset. It’s understandable. They being disciplined at the hand of their displeased God. Maybe now they’ll take the “memo” from the angel seriously. They certainly weren’t going to get any blessings from any of their neighbor’s gods who they were now worshiping.
What does this say to us? We may think we’ll find happiness or fulfillment in things (our idols). Often the joy we feel is short-lived and then we’re on to the next “thing.” Maybe we should be more focused on God and what he is asking of us. Take some time today to listen for God.
Let’s pray …
Lord, forgive me for those times when I question you and abandon your loving arms for even an instant. Thank you for loving me despite how I fall short. I pray for guidance and encouragement. In Jesus’ name.