Summary: We need to know our God and know the story of him working in our lives for God is seraching for such a faith as this
Big Idea: The compassionate saving God who is looking for faith
I want to tell you a story
There were these people who had a god – but not just any old god – a god who had rescued them from captivity – they had been slaves in a foreign land – they lived under the authority of a bad king and had to serve him in all they did – but through a course of events they were rescued – and were promised a new land a new home where they would find rest And what happened to them – well over the course of time they were given a land by their god – a special land which would be theirs – a land full of good things – no longer would they be under the rule of an evil dictator they would now live in a new place – they could be their own people. This was not done because they were good or wise or noble. But simply because their God loved them. And their god helped them live in this land – he helped them to win their battles – he was with them. He promised to always be with them if they lived for him.
They were not the only people who lived in this land. Surrounding them were many other people with their own gods – gods who could help with the harvest, gods who would help bring in more children – different gods, interesting gods - (at least that is what they thought) and as time went on they forgot about their god, and they forgot about where they had come from.
The other gods were too interesting – new, exciting – and so they served these gods – they forgot their god who had looked after them and rescued them. This made their god angry – he loved them and as all good parents know – true love also brings discipline – without discipline bad habits are reinforced, bad character is cultivated. So their god let them start losing battles – he let them realize that without him nothing good could come – without him they would be like everyone else – have no certainty.
But their god was a god of compassion – he was the god who had rescued them in the first place, he was the god who had brought them into the good land. So in his goodness, from his compassion he raised up special people – people who would help them win their battles, who would save them ‘saving people’ if you want – and they did – and you would have thought that was the end of the story that the people and that they all lived happily ever after
But no they didn’t live happily ever after – they lived happily chasing after other gods – they went back to their old ways following the old gods in the land – the interesting gods, the different gods, the new gods. And over time it got worse and worse and worse – they became more and more filled with badness – their god still had compassion – but their spiral of badness and evil got worse. So their god decided he would no longer help them win their battles – but would let the other people live around them remain to see who would return to him and live for him amidst this melting pot of gods. Who would be faithful and keep his way…. Will my people be faithful in this generation
And that is where our story will end – it starts with an enslaved oppressed people and it ends with an enslaved oppressed people. A people who start off serving a foreign King and end up serving foreign gods – and fall deeper and deeper into evil.
But what is the moral of the story?
Is it Watch out for interesting gods?
Is it Don’t disobey your God
Is it Be a good follower of God
God will get you out of your problems by sending someone when you need them
Who has ever played snakes and ladders – young – and there were was always 1 snake and 1 ladder – and you didn’t want to land on the snake because you know you were going down. In the same way the people of Israel were in some mega game of snakes and ladders – the way they played the game meant they kept landing on snakes sliding further and further down – yet God placed them on a ladder – to bring them back up again. Yet no matter how many ladders he provided they always seemed to find a snake. Michael Wilcock in his commentary on Judges provides a helpful cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance and rescue.