Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger. ~ Judges 2:11-12 (emphasis added)
It always starts small.
A gradual movement … a taste, a peek.
A little choice.
A gradual slide from obedience to provoking.
Reading through Judges, the cycle in the Hebrews’ relationship with the Lord is very clear:
And the cycle continues throughout the rest of the Old Testament.
There is a progression and we must learn to reject the progression and be discerning about the “little things” so that we remain faithful to the Lord in all things.
The first step away from the Lord is Refusal.
“The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (v. 11)
The Israelites refused to obey the Lord. They chose to serve the Baals, the false gods. How often do we make small choices to serve false gods as well? I’ve been wondering about the false gods in my life … what is it that I’m serving? What do I allow to subtly move me away from the Lord? What have I allowed in my home and my heart that is “evil in the sight of the Lord”?
The second step is Rebellion.
“They forsook the Lord.” (v. 12)
The Hebrew word used here means abandon, leave behind. The Israelites moved from serving other gods to following them. In the ESV, verse 12 says:
And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the people around them, and bowed down to them … (emphasis added)
They went after them! Chased … pursued.
Again I asked myself some questions. What am I pursuing? What do I chase? What is the priority for how I spend my time? What gets my first attention?
Finally, the last part is the Result.
“And they provoked the Lord to anger.” (v. 12)
Provoking the Lord? That doesn’t even sound remotely wise, does it? However, just as the Israelites time and again acted in ways that caused the Lord’s punishment on them, we also find ourselves in need of the Lord’s discipline over and over in our lives.
The questions we must consider as we contemplate the result of our disobedience include:
- What sin in my life remains unconfessed?
- Are there areas of rebellion in my heart that need to be surrendered?
- Why am I unwilling to let go of the false gods in my life?
The Lord longs for our whole heart, our absolute devotion, our continual obedience. He offers us Relationship.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
It always starts small.