Wipeout!

(Todays post is by published author Chris Queen Click his name to read more of his work)

Judges 2:6 – 3:6

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?

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  • scott alexander

    This chapter is a good reminder to me that, like the Israelites, when we fail over and over in our own ways, God cares enough to give us opportunities (just as he did with raising the judges for Israel). Hopefully we recognize those opportunities and have the faith to trust that his way is the best way.

  • Brad Bacon

    Andy’s comment below really resonated with me…when witnessing the Good News to others, it is obvious how the time/space/distance between the historical act of Jesus dying on the cross and the here and now is a large barrier for non-believers. Those who didn’t witness the miracles as God led the Israelites turned away, forgot. What is interesting to me is, when pushed a little, almost everyone can attest to a miracle in their life or a loved one’s life. God’s hand is still visible, making the impossible possible every day. Good conversation guys 🙂

    • So true, Brad. It often takes more faith to believe in nothing than to believe that there is a God who loves us.

  • Marc Cannon

    As I read the responses to Chris’s commentary I see the same pattern. We all compare our circumstances to the history of the Israelites. We talk about patterns and our particular fancy of sin but we’re all forgetting one thing here. This is a life long thing I’ve heard about human nature: “We’re all going to mess up and it’s just our nature.” Okay, but in these passages I’m reminded that the war the Israelites had to wage and the circumstances they were left with are not ours. We forget, as I mentioned above that our circumstances have changed. Those things that we fight have been defeated. We have been forgiven and our seat at the family table has been secured. So when we get those thoughts about here we go again let’s remember that we are saved by the blood of the Lamb and that once we chose Christ our circumstances no matter what are changed forever. We have complete victory!

    • We have complete victory because He has been completely victorious.

  • Jeff Morton

    I enjoyed the wipeout analogy. But the draw I took away from yesterday and today’s reading was the importance of community to keep us grounded in truth. Even though God was fighting their battles, the Israelites taking their land took on their enemies as teams. A cord of three strands.

    • There are few words that speak to a man’s heart like, “I got your back.”

  • Andy Mitchell

    I find the very beginning of this scripture reading to be most interesting. Judges 2:7 starts by saying “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work which the Lord had done for Israel.” The memory of God’s great work kept these people serving Him. But then we see in verse 10, “another generation grew up who know neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” I take two things away from these passages: 1. Tell the Good News to children, preach the gospel to them who are the next generation. 2. I go back to Remembrance! Remembering the good news in the gospel, preaching it to yourself everyday, reveling in the grace found in Jesus, is the way to a life serving and living for others to His glory. This takes things like what y’all have started here to stay in the Word and be in prayer constantly. #EasierSaidThanDone / Thank you for doing this.

    • Man..I’m loving this, y’all. THANK YOU for participating and sharing. I like this cyber-sharpening of iron on iron.

  • Adam Cooper

    Chris, I like your Wipeout analogy and yes, it is one of my summer guilty pleasures as well. The thing about Wipeout is that the performance of the people gets better as they continue through the various courses: they tend to learn how things work and thus finds ways through them or around them. I almost feel like it is the same with us. We feel secure in our salvation and we begin to live a better life with practice but then as we do that are we simply learning what we can get away with? Do we not learn how to look “good” as a Christian and thus simply go through the motions knowing that we ARE secure? Wipeout is a good object lesson for life: you get knocked down, you learn from it, you try to move forward not doing what caused you to get knocked down the first time again (hopefully). We sin, we learn from it (with help from the Holy Spirit and God’s Word), we turn away from it and try to move forward in a life more like Christ.

    One side note: isn’t it awesome that God’s lessons are so universal that we can relate them to a game show like Wipeout!!

    • YES!!!! Failing forward. Like they say in Celebrate Recovery, “God never wastes a hurt.”

  • Brice Hope

    The Israelites messed up and so do we. One of the greatest things about Christ and His sacrifice is that grace is enough to cover it all. Christ died for us while knowing the fact that we would continually fall short and “wipe out”.

  • Steven Gregory

    Just like the Isrealites we live this same cycle, like chris said maybe not so extreme but we do cycle. I feel when we do fail, especially from the same shortcomings. We start to either question our salvation or maybe just give up.

    I think the important thing here is to recognize that obstacle, regroup and move on. God so wanted the Isrealites to do the right thing otherwise he wouldn’t have sent judge after judge. We need to recognize that he wants the same for us even though we sometimes feel like failures.

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