Joshua’s generation is gone. They have all died and the next generation didn’t kindle a relationship with God. They served the gods around them instead.
God warned the people what would happen to them if they left Him and followed other gods. He WILL NOT share their affection. He WILL NOT share ours either. As Joshua said, “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15b). There is no “both” option in God’s eyes.
The generation who had walked with God in the wilderness and into the Promised Land had died out. Their children did not avail themselves of creating a deep and lasting relationship with God. As I stated last time we were together, they didn’t have a pressing need to seek Him. The leaders that rose up after Joshua’s generation suffered from that same lack of relationship.
While our previous generation was serving God, they were not doing so with all their hearts. They had neglected to follow His command to remove ALL the inhabitants from the land. With those inhabitants came their false gods. Those false gods offered an ‘easier way’ to the people.
God’s laws are NOT always easy to follow. He expects certain things of us, including denying the baser desires inherent in our sinful nature. I am not called to adhere strictly to the Law but I am called to follow the commandments Jesus gave. They embody the spirit of the Law. And in that spirit is to have ONLY ONE God; the Living God. No false gods allowed in my heart. No FALSE gods allowed in Israel’s heart either. This was their BIGGEST sin.
The other gods apparently appealed to the baser desires of man and were desirable because of it. But what Israel failed to factor in is that those gods are powerless. They can neither bless them nor curse them. They are created things with NO life in them. But by turning to them there IS a consequence from the Living God.
Israel knew to do good and to follow God. They HAD been taught this from the generations before. It wasn’t as if they were ignorant of God’s Law. They had the written law right there in their midst. They had the Tabernacle. But they chose to ignore it instead. It was a conscious choice and one that they had been warned about.
When things started going bad they had no one else to blame. The reason was clear but they chose not to recognize it. I would bet that the consequences of their behavior started out small and grew as their conduct became more and more detestable to God. I know that’s how it works in my life. The Holy Spirit calls gently to me when I’m near the ‘edges’ but the farther away I get from the right path the louder His voice calls. I have to choose to listen. I can choose to stop up my ears no matter how loud He calls. When that happens I am completely out from under His protection and am subject to discipline and the laws that govern this world.
God didn’t have to cause bad to happen. All He has to do is remove His hand and the bad that is in this world takes over. Israel wasn’t a huge nation with armies that were trained to fight for centuries. They were a young nation with strong nations around them. Without God’s protection they were vulnerable. The gods they were turning to had no power to protect them. They were at the mercy of the stronger enemies. God could also withhold good from them. He can hold back the rain. He can hold back the nutrients in the soil. He can hold back the favor of those around you. God can also bring about disaster. If you have any illusions about that just look back at what He did to Egypt. God doesn’t usually use the ‘hammer’ first. He usually goes in the order I shared here and reserves the “bringing about disaster” as a last resort to get our attention. At the point in our story Israel is in the first phase. The next time we meet we will see what He does to get their attention. He LOVES His people and reaches out to bring them back. Just like He loves us and reaches out to bring us back to Him.
Father God, thank You for calling me back from the places I wander. I NEVER want to go so far away that You can’t reach me! I PRAY I never force You to bring out the ‘hammer’ option. I want to listen the FIRST time and early in that too! Keep my heart tender to You and my eyes ever searching for You instead of the false gods around me. I KNOW that they are out there but I also KNOW that they hold NOTHING for me. YOU are my source. YOU are my hope. YOU are my salvation. I can depend on Your promises at all times! Keep me standing under Your banner of protection.