This past year, the high school students at my church went through the Bible in story fashion. The Biblical stories were retold in a narrative where the point of each story was emphasised as opposed to having to draw the lesson out from the passage. As we neared the end of the 12 lessons, we began to referring to them as stories of how people messed up, and God forgave them. If you read through the Old Testament, you will find that this is a common theme. From Adam to Noah to the Israelites, it is a constant cycle of God’s love and desire to bring His people back to him. Of course, the ultimate example of this is when God sent His son, Jesus, to us as both an example and the atonement for our sins.
Nowhere is this cycle of people falling away from God and God delivering them more evident than in the book of Judges. A little background, the Israelites have just conquered much of the Promised Land and have witnessed God’s strength as they pushed out the people who were living in the land. Joshua warned the people that they must keep following God, for if they fall away from Him, God’s judgement will come down on them. They very emphatically state that they will worship God and serve Him (you can read the account here). Now, as Judges picks up the account, that generation has died off, the Israelites have started to worship the foreign gods and God has turned against them. The cycle continues.
What happened? Well, the Israelites didn’t finish the job; in short, they compromised. They didn’t continue to push out the people who occupied the land that God promised them. Many times they forced them to be labourers, but still allowed them to worship their gods. Thus, the next generation got confused and lost the single-minded focus on the true God. In other words, the generation that really knew God didn’t do the next any favours by allowing their children to be exposed and surrounded with other gods.
That cycle still exists today. Christian parents have children who stray from the path, and churches have aging congregations where generations are missing. Are we really dealing with anything different? Is the main culprit still compromise? If so, how can we change? Not to oversimplify, but the answer is to get back to focusing on God and eliminating the confusion in our own homes and church. We need to read the scriptures; teach our children the uncompromised truth. Jesus didn’t pull punches; read the book of John, which I often hear is the first book a new Christian should read. There are some hard messages in there.
As the Body of Christ, we need to step up and make sure that our lives are worthy of the calling we have. We need to live in a way that makes it obvious where our allegiance falls. I believe this starts with making sure there are no other gods (money, fame, power… etc.) before the Lord Almighty in our lives. In the home, it means giving God the attention He deserves and bringing up our children to know the Truth. In the church, it means preaching the Bible and not watering down the message; so, it is easier to follow and more attractive to adhere to. It means living so that others will see the difference in you and want to have what you have. In means no more compromises.