READING: Judges 9-10, Luke 5:17-39
“We have sinned . . . .”
Sometimes the Word describes other people, but it so clearly describes us, too, that it’s almost heart-stopping. When I read the following words in Judges 10 about the Israelites, I think much about the reality of life for us today. The text is long, but worth reading:
Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the sons of Ammon. . . . Then the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals.” The Lord said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” The sons of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned, do to us whatever seems good to You; only please deliver us this day.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord; and He could bear the misery of Israel no longer. (Judges 10:6-16)
Here’s what most captures my attention. First, the people turned to multiple gods – that is, to whatever “god” seemed most present in the moment. Second, they did not get away with serving false gods. Eventually, God brought judgment on them to turn them back to Him. Third, God demanded genuine repentance. The people cried out to the Lord, but He was not interested in a crisis cry resulting in short-term obedience. He wanted them to trust Him, recognizing that the false gods they served could not compare to Him. Fourth, God was patient with them. Scholars differ on the phrase, “He could bear the misery of Israel no longer,” but it seems God was moved by their anguish. They threw themselves on His mercy, offering for Him to do whatever He knew was best, and He responded with mercy when they turned from their false gods.
I fear we’re just like the Hebrews. We’re a fickle people, too easily drawn to the “gods” that bring the most present-tense pleasure. God allows us to suffer the consequences of those choices, but He does so to bring us back. We may struggle at times with genuine repentance, yet He patiently waits us out in love. Our hope resides not in our attitudes or actions, but solely in His grace.
No false god – no thing or no person we turn to for fulfillment – can even come close to matching Him. He delivers us when we don't deserve deliverance.
- Rejoice over God’s grace and mercy.
- Turn from any false “gods” to which you turn for purpose or pleasure today.
PRAYER: “Father, thank You for loving me enough to bring me back to You.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Judges 11-12, Luke 6:1-26