Throughout the book of Judges, we see the Israelites, “the sons of Israel,” again and again do evil in the sight of the LORD, turning aside to serve not only the Baals and the Ashtaroth found elsewhere in Scripture (that I’ve read so far this year), but also “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” (Judges 10:6). In their day, quite a plethora of gods that people could pick and choose to serve is told to us exists and draws the Israelites away from the true and living God.
Then again, what about us?
For those who have been saved by God’s amazing grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross and His resurrection (Ephesians 2:8-9),
for those who know the Holy Spirit testifies with their spirit that they are utterly undeserved but lovingly adopted children of God (Romans 8:16),
for those who are confident in God’s promise to continue perfecting His good work in us (Philippians 1:6),
and for those who have found any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, and who strive (or tell others they constantly strive) for unity, humility, and a life that longs to be like that of Christ (Philippians 2:1),
this is unacceptable.
And praise be to God, that He disciplines faithfully those whom He has committed to love, a commitment sealed by blood, in order to conform us to the image of Christ, as we have been given His perfect righteousness in exchange for the unbearable burden of sin that was all we had to “offer.” A marvelous and awesome corollary is that we are continuing to be honed to be more and more obedient, as Christ was perfectly obedient, to His Father’s will! The greatest commandment clearly must be mentioned:
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
Every human being has failed in the most important way. And if we have sinned against a holy, just, and loving God in the most grievous manner, how stupendous is the futility of trying to “make up for it” by being a good person – and how distressing is the audacity of ignoring the truth to seek after the things of this world.
Even more so, for those who God knows and has allowed to know Him, how often do our lives mark us, though we are not branded outwardly, that we belong wholeheartedly to Him (C. Spurgeon paraphrase). Fewer tangible idols exist today. But people do worship gods, nevertheless. It’s not a matter of whether you worship or not, but what you worship. For many, they serve the god of success, the god of money, the god of life, the god of love, the god of people’s approval, the god of security, the god of happiness. And these gods are present in every culture, every peoples, every nation.
How grieving is it to our Lord when His people falter at times to worship, or at least too highly prioritize, these idols? I cannot imagine, but it makes me speechless when I reflect on the Gospel – that God knows all things, and yet still, for some reason incomprehensible to me, loves me, sent Christ to be the substitute for me to be punished, and is committed to do all things for my good, but most of all for His glory. And He does not desire for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance, that they may know Him and rejoice in Him forever (2 Peter 3:9).
And when Israel cried out to the Lord, repenting of their sin, God knew they would fail again, and again, and again. This message is clear, particularly through the book of Judges. Yet He delivers them, demonstrating His longsuffering love, perfect justice, and greatness in power and authority.
He does the same for me today and every day. A day goes by, and I sin. I get distracted as I strive to run the race (Hebrews 12:1). I want take the glory for the good works God prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). I am tempted by the law of sin and death that Christ Jesus set me free from (Romans 8:2). And yet, by God’s grace, I can say I don’t wantthat. And such joy abounds when I contemplate the fact that I will not be this way forever! God is working in me, and I will be perfectly conformed to the image of Christ one day! I pray that this brings you joy as well.
God’s faithfulness is first and foremost not to us, but to Himself. This fact humbles me like nothing else. He is so committed to His glory, and His infinite wisdom and love (and everything of Him) gives me a solid foundation to trust in His plan for history. O, the joy and awe of the weight of responsibility to be any infinitesimal part in that marvelous work!
May the aim of my life and yours be to know and live this truth:
Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.