Lives lived in obedience to God will result in prosperity; but, disobedience will lead to adversity.
Do you prefer living a good life, free of adversity rather than dealing with difficulties? Since the answer to that should be obvious to everyone, the next question would be – why then do we intentionally pursue things that, if not immediately, eventually will lead to difficulties in our lives?
As you read through the books of Joshua and Judges, you can see that God blessed the Israelites as they followed Him and pursued the right things. But, eventually as they went throughout Canaan doing battle against their enemies, they did not conquer all of the land and the people there as the Lord had instructed them to do. The result was that they had the temptation of the pagan gods facing them.
Judges 2:7 (NIV) “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.” But Joshua died and then those elders also. In verse 10 it says “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.” [Emphasis mine]
I have to wonder, why did an entire generation lack the knowledge about the God that had delivered them out of slavery in Egypt and then brought them to the land that had been promised to them? Because of this lack of knowledge, we see in verses 11-12a & 15 what happened: “Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord…” “Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as He had sworn to them. They were in great distress.” [Emphasis mine] They had been fairly warned about the consequences of disobedience.
This should point us to the importance, as Christians, to take seriously the responsibility we have as adults to teach our children the principles mapped out for us in God’s Word. The “pagan idols” we face today may not be exactly the same as what the Israelites faced, but then again they really are not so new and different. There are still false religions in existence worshipping “gods” that can steal hearts and minds. Then there are the “gods” of a materialistic nature – money and all the things it can buy for us. There are “gods” of physical desires that can lead to a path of sin; “gods” of self-importance and putting people on a pedestal, and on and on. Anything that we have in our lives that we put before our God will become our “pagan idols.”
Do not forget that although the Israelites won their promised land, it did not come easy. They still had to battle their way into it.
We know that being a God-loving, God-fearing Christian will not guarantee a life with no adversity at all – but it should make a difference in how we handle the difficulties and how we come out on the other side.
We need to stay strong in our faith and seek to find what lesson we can learn in every circumstance. Maybe we first need to seek out what we were or were not doing that could have necessitated our need to learn something – possibly the hard way. Maybe some other “god” crept into our lives.
But the great news is that if we will call on our loving God, He will draw us into His love, because our deliverer Jesus Christ, lived and died so that we can always be reconciled with the Father.
Written by Karran Martin – March 2019