What You’ve Missed…
* Eleven chapters of the book of Joshua describing in detail how the Israelites divided up the land they conquered among themselves. Eleven chapters. In detail.
* The book of Judges has the best opening scene yet. The Israelites kill 10,000 people in battle, and then cut off the thumbs and big toes of King Adoni-bezek. That sounds like the start of a solid Joe Pesci mobster movie to me. I’m in.
* Joshua dies and the Israelites go through a series of judges who rule over them. One of them pulled some sweet James Bond spy moves and killed a comically fat bad guy. One of them pulled some sweet Braveheart hand-to-hand combat moves and killed 600 regular bad guys. And one of them was a woman who pulled some sweet Margaret Thatcher gumption and tact moves, and didn’t kill any bad guys. But she did have the Israelite army kill about 900 bad guys. Score one for women in power.
Days 90 and 91
Daily Readings: Judges 1-6
So, remember the blog about God giving His people a choice to obey Him or not? And remember how the benefits of choosing to obey Him were ridiculously awesome? And remember how the consequences of disobeying were ridiculously horrible? Yeah. Well. Bad news folks. The Israelites made a bad choice.
After Joshua and his generation of Israelites die, the next generation pretty much turn into a bunch of high-schoolers, ready to party hard the minute mom and dad pull out of the driveway. They abandon God and choose to worship other gods. And so round one of God’s promises come to pass.
“This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies…” (Judges 2:14)
After eight years of suffering, Israel asks God for help, and so God raises up a judge to lead them, gives them victory over their enemies, and provides forty years of peace and prosperity. Way to go Israel, lesson learned.
Or not. Israel goes into cool, rebel, high-schooler mode again, doing their own thing and choosing not to obey God. (I could probably sneak in some reference to High School Musical here…but I won’t, because High School Musical is horrible. Granted, I’ve never seen it. I just know it to be horrible, empirically speaking.)
So, God once again hands them over to their enemies and allows His people to suffer. I’m not sure what Israel was expecting, but they discover that suffering is pretty horrible, so they ask God to rescue them again. So He raises up another judge among them and not only does He rescue them, again, but this time He provides eighty years of peace for them.
Now, I’ll spare you the long version of the story and cut to the chase. This happens again. God’s people rebel, suffer greatly, ask for help, and God raises up a judge and helps.
Then, there’s finally a change of pace. Just kidding. There isn’t. Because this happens AGAIN! I mean, I know history repeats itself, but this is just ridiculous! C’mon Israel! You gotta institute some national holidays to remind yourselves that life with God is way better for you. I know you probably don’t have fireworks choreographed to musical accompaniment, or animated television specials, or special Google logos to help mark the occasion, but you gotta come up with something here! How long can this go on?
And how long can God continue to put up with this? He rescues them every single time! This is a level of patience and a degree of forgiveness that blows my mind. I had a hard enough time staying calm when my younger brother “borrowed” my favorite t-shirt every time I came home from college. (This happened repeatedly, and drove me nuts, repeatedly.) And yet, God never loses it. He never freaks out. He never says enough is enough and just gives up on the Israelites, thinking they’re a lost cause. In fact, the Bible says,
“Whenever the LORD raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the LORD took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering.” (Judges 2:18)
To me, that’s a God who truly loves His people. He takes them back every single time, even though they voluntarily chose to leave Him. That is truly some crazy love.