Today we learn the rinse and repeat cycle God will use to get the Israelite’s attention. There are four parts to this cycle. #1 – People go astray. #2 God turns them over to their enemies. #3 The people cry out to God. #4 God sends his rescue. God didn’t intend to leave his people abandoned. He will continue to send helpers to get them on track. From the sounds of it, his plan worked temporarily but didn’t sustain itself very well.
It’s interesting to note how the Israelites would always revert back to the other gods when left without a leader. It’s easy for us to make judgments on their behavior. Think of what a toddler can accomplish in just minutes when a parent is looking the other way. Or, the chaos of a classroom when the students are left to fend for themselves if the teacher leaves the room. We are curious by nature, always testing the limit. Does this help explain what is happening here and why the Israelites can’t keep their focus on God?
We may not realize how “easy” it was for them to follow the pagan gods. What was it that made those gods so attractive to the Israelites? If there was any push back to all the “laws” or “rules” God had imposed on his people, the Canaanite gods must have looked quite appealing. There were short-range benefits and people could remain selfish in their ambitions and desires. That was not only the norm but encouraged. They could do just about anything they wished, and they would be obeying one god or another.
When we look at the one true God, he offers us long term benefits. His promises are not empty. God’s “rules” are designed to protect us, not harm us or keep us in chains. Rather than being selfish, we need to be selfless. It may not be the “easy” way, but it’s the smart way. God doesn’t intend for us to be alone. We need to rely on Jesus to be able to live our lives God’s way.
Are you feeling like God has abandoned you for some reason? You can be assured He is always there. We’re often the ones who have fallen away from God. We may have our own cat and mouse pattern with God. Is he pleased with everything we do?
We can glean wisdom from the pattern we see here in Judges playing over and over again. We see the type of behavior that angers God. In Exodus 20:5, God says this about other gods, “You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” Had the people forgotten this commandment? God doesn’t like when we put other things (our idols) ahead of him. That’s something we can all work on.
Take some time today to get yourself in alignment with God’s intentions for you. Reflect on what that means and ask him to guide you.
Let’s pray …
Lord, I thank you for how you have gifted me. I am listening for your voice. Reveal to me the purpose you have for me. I know there are many hurting people in this world. They are lost and alone and don’t know your love and mercy. I am listening, and I will follow you and obey. In Jesus’ name. Amen.