Hunkered Down Devotion

Judges 2:11-18 (Voice)
11 Consequently this new generation served the gods of Canaan—the Baals[a] as they were called—doing what the Eternal God considered evil. 12 They abandoned the Eternal One, the True God of their ancestors, who brought them safely out of Egypt. Instead, they began to serve the gods of their neighbors, the Canaanites, bowing low before their images, causing the Eternal to burn with anger.
13 The Israelites abandoned the worship of the Eternal One and turned to serve Baal and his consort the moon goddess, Ashtaroth. 14 So the Eternal’s anger burned hot against them, and He caused them to be overcome by those around them, using their enemies to plunder them so that the Israelites could no longer stand against their enemies. 15 Whenever they marched out to battle, the hand of the Eternal One was raised against them in evil, as He had warned and promised them, and they were in anguish.
16 But the Eternal appointed judges among them, leaders and liberators who rescued the Israelites from their enemies who plundered them. 17 Even then the people of Israel did not listen to their judges, but instead passionately pursued other gods and bowed down to them. How quickly they turned from the faithfulness exhibited by their ancestors in obeying the Eternal’s commandments. This younger generation did not follow their ancestors’ example.
18 Still, whenever the Eternal appointed judges among the Israelites, He was with each one, saving the Israelites from their enemies as long as that leader lived, for He was moved to compassion by the groans of His people when they were persecuted and oppressed.

The difference between hope and despair is often simply a matter of perspective.  This passage from Judges is no exception.  From one point of view, this passage is downright depressing: the Israelites, despite all that God had done for them – despite God’s fulfillment of his promise to bring them to the promised land – the Israelites have their heads and hearts turned by the idols and gods of their neighbors and they turn away from God both in their hearts and in their lives.

The Israelites lack of faith and seeming inability to be faithful is discouraging, and even worse it is also familiar as it resembles our own failures in adhering to God’s call in our lives.

And yet, from another perspective this passage is the very definition of hope.  If we shift our focus from the Israelites actions, from their lack of faith, and from the correlation to our own lives that has, and instead turn our attention to God’s action this becomes a testament to the faithfulness of our God.

While the Israelite’s – and our – inability to remain faithful to God and God’s call on our lives is frustrating and dispiriting, it is also the reality.  But the reality of our abilities and the limits of our own faithfulness is not the story here.  As always, the real story is God and God’s faithfulness.

In spite of all the Israelite’s failures, in spirit of all of the times they have fallen short in their attempts at faithfulness – and in spite of just how much our own lives bear resemblance to those of the Israelites, God is steadfast.  God is faithful.  God is not only just, but is actually unfair to our advantage in showering us with undeserved and unearned grace.

God is faithful and just, abounding in grace, mercy, and love.  Not once or twice, but now and always.  There is no more important perspective for us to have than that.

Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for your faithfulness, even when we are faithless.  Fill us with your grace and love and guide us by your Spirit to respond to you in faith.  

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