(Todays post is by published author Chris Queen Click his name to read more of his work)
One of my favorite summertime guilty pleasures is Wipeout. Let’s face it – watching people fall flat on their faces never gets old. But at the same time, every episode is downright predictable, with a similar cast of characters. There’s the arrogant guy, the one who is so uncoordinated he or she can barely walk without obstacles, the idiot in a ridiculous costume. No matter who they are, the same fate befalls them: they get themselves knocked down over and over again.
Reading the history of the Israelites is a lot like watching a Wipeout marathon. You witness the same behavior over and over again. Maybe you even wince or groan as you see similar patterns. Judges 2:6-3:6 treads familiar territory, as we see God’s people fall away from their relationship with God yet again:
10After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.12They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
18Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.”23The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.
5The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 6They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
I find it so easy to read passages like these and shake my head and sigh, “here they go again.” And then it hits me (or rather, the Holy Spirit hits me): I’m just like them! Ok, so I’m not running around marrying pagan women and worshipping other gods, but I commit the same sins time and time again. I say something careless – BAM, the swinging arm knocks me off balance. I don’t take care to guard my thoughts – SMACK, the boxing glove pops out of the hole and hits me between the eyes. I act like a jerk because things don’t go my way – SPLASH, into the muck I fall.
Please don’t get me wrong – I know my eternity is secure, but between now and when I meet my Savior face to face, I want to create a different story. I want to beat the obstacle course. I want to overcome sin, not to earn points with God, but to improve my relationship with Him. After all, isn’t life better when it’s not so predictable?