A bit of timelessness in this passage, I feel. In the sense of this being a collection of small anecdotes that just remind us of a few things that happened.
First, the Angel of the LORD turns up at a place called Bokim, and tells the Israelites that they weren’t supposed to make covenants with the people who already lived in Canaan; and now, because they have, things aren’t going to be as good as they could have been.
Then Joshua dies – again – just running through the tale in case we forgot it in the past month since I finished Joshua.
Then finally another generation grows up, and forgets God – and it gives a broad introduction about the Judges who had God on their side, and led the people of Israel through times of difficulty.
This is, though, just the reason why there was all the talk about cleaning things out.
“Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.” ~ Judges 2:3
And it’s exactly what happened.
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 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. ~ Judges 2:11-13
I think, sometimes, we tend to take God for granted. It’s so easy to think that we don’t need to worry too much, that we just need to do the minimal effort to keep him happy, that as long as we go to church on Sunday, maybe a bible study through the week, we’re all good – the rest of our lives aren’t really that much of a big deal, right? I can imagine this being a justification as the Israelites went through their lives, as those who had witnessed the events in the wilderness and conquering the promised land died out, others took over and for them, things were different.
It’s so easy to be committed to God when you first come to him. It’s a passionate, enthusiastic, exciting time. However, as time goes on, that passion wanes, the excitement wears off and the enthusiasm fades. That ‘honeymoon phase’ wears off…
And it’s like anything – once the ‘newness’ factor starts to wear off, then other things become shiny whilst that thing, no matter how much we loved it to begin with, starts to become something we take for granted.
And it’s a lot easier to walk away from the things that don’t excite us, and that we take for granted, than it is to walk away from something new, shiny and exciting.
When there’s other things around – Baals and Ashteroths, if you will – then it’s harder to maintain that close connection with God. We can’t afford to take God for granted – and I say that from real life experience of my own – we need to ensure that he’s always number one, because if he’s not, then he can tumble down that priority list pretty quickly, and soon he stops being even a blip on our radar… Is that really a risk worth taking?