Today’s reading is drawn from Judges 10:6-8.
During the tumultuous times of the judges, the people of Israel continually worship false gods. Their selfish way of living causes God to become very angry, so he delivers them into the hands of their enemies. Instead of remembering their covenant with the one true God, the Israelites go down their own path and lose their way.
The ability to make decisions and choose our own fate is a gift from God. But along with those decisions comes the reality that, like the Israelites, we often turn our backs on what we know to be true—sometimes even worshiping unworthy objects or following false gods. These choices can affect our lives in profound ways—even define our futures.
When Craig left the comforts of his close-knit Christian family for college at age 18, it was the first time in his life he was truly free to make his own decisions. No one told him to make his bed. No one waited up for him at night. No one told him when and where he could and couldn’t go. Finally, he had no one to answer to—at least that’s what he thought.
His desire to live for the moment and do whatever felt good caused him to end up a much different person from the one he had set out to become. As Craig was growing up, God had been his life’s main focus, but at school he became obsessed with the dangerous temptations the world has to offer—drinking, money and power, to name a few. Pretty soon, God was lost in the memories of his past.
But the fast life eventually came to a crashing halt on a night that began like any other for Craig but ended in a hospital emergency room, with a drunk-driving charge, a revoked license and hundreds of dollars in fines.
Sure, Craig was now an adult. He finally got to choose for himself the road he wanted to travel. He also got to find out the hard way what it was like to be out on his own without the protection he had taken for granted his whole life.
What was God’s purpose in how he dealt with the Israelites?
Is it possible to live life in the “real world” without being overtaken by its temptations? What can we learn from these two stories about God’s desires for us?