Part Four – The Cycle
Hello again…take this for what it’s worth, I got a B in my Exegesis of Judges course from the Fall semester. That means I am 80% confident that I am representing Judges up to the standard of Dr. Gordon Hugenburger.
So, as stated above, by cycle I am not referring to the amazing feat of getting a single, double, triple and home run (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitting_for_the_cycle) in a single game of baseball. The cycle I am talking about is what we observe throughout the book of Judges:
- People of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD
- People are enslaved by the nations around them
- People cry out (or sometimes don’t) to God
- God sends a judge to save them
- The judge saves the people from their enemies
- The judge dies
And the cycle repeats…
People do what is evil in the sight of the Lord
This cycle is not far from what we experience today. We, like the people of Israel, frequently turn away from God and do what is evil in his sight. But what does that mean? Quick! Stop thinking that this is about following a bunch of rules to appease the God of the universe…stop it…stop…really, stop thinking that! Doing what is “evil in the sight of the Lord” is not just about checking off the Ten Commandments to ensure you have lived a satisfactory life. Though, if we really took the Ten Commandments seriously, we would have a tough time getting past the first few without being really convicted. When the Creator God says to His people, “You shall have no other gods before me,” we all fall short…right now I have as a background on my computer cycling photos of Ferraris. I plan to buy one when I hit the big-time in ministry. 🙂
Anyway, the point is, that we are quick to make an idol out of anything we own. To make something an idol is simply to give it a position that it does not deserve in relation to God. But what exactly does that mean, “to give it a position it does not deserve?” Well, take for instance that you are very proud of your stereo system because it is a really good quality stereo. That’s fine. However, when we start saying in our hearts things like, “I am the reason I have this stereo” or “I deserve this stereo because I am such a hard worker.” At this point we are forgetting that we did not make ourselves. I am reminded of the passage from Acts 17:24-27 that says:
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,”
God “allotted periods and the boundaries of [humankind’s] dwelling place, that [we] should seek [Him].” We are not the reason we have the things we have, and we do not deserve anything because we are such hard workers. We were blessed to be born in the places we were born. Obviously, our efforts have had something to do with the successes we have had, but who gave us the ability to do the things that make us successful? God. I am not my Maker.
People are enslaved by the nations around them
The crazy thing is that when we give ourselves over to this thinking that ‘we are the reason for our success,’ we become enslaved to the things that we think we earn by our own power. I think this results from our inability to satisfy ourselves. You know this, and so do I. As soon as we buy the latest TV, a new one comes on the market and we start saving our pennies to upgrade our system. We can’t be satisfied, there will always be bigger and better than what we have. We really do think a lot of the time that “the grass is greener on the other side.” I would suggest that the only place that the grass is greener is where our Shepherd leads (Psalm 23).
People cry out to God and he sends a Savior
Thanks be to God! When we stray from God, “he is actually not far from each one of us” – Acts 17:27. We can cry out to Him and in fact, He has already answered us in His Son Jesus Christ. All that is required of us is to place our trust in Christ, the Savior of our souls. Just as God sent judges to save the people of Israel as in the book of Judges, He has sent His Son “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” – John 3:16-17.
Maybe someday I’ll talk more specifically about some of the Judges, there really is some great stuff in there. I encourage you to read it. These Judges, like all of the other leaders that God raised up throughout the Old Testament are imperfect just like us, but God used each of them in a mighty way to point to Himself. Ultimately, they pre-figure our Lord, Jesus Christ.