“Belonging to God - Jeff Curtis”
Belonging to God
By Jeff Curtis
God gave a lengthy speech in Judges chapter 10 where He stresses the importance of loyalty in the people’s relationship with Him. Their idolatry had angered Him, prompting Him to speak to them in person, and almost caused Him to reject them completely, as He said, “Go and cry to the gods which you have chosen.” The worship of false gods that supposedly provided fertility and agricultural bounty often tempted Israel to forsake the Lord.
Christians today don’t necessarily worship physical idols, but sensuality and prosperity continue to have their appeal. The sensual worship of Baal belonged to a culture of the past, but the commercialization of sex in today’s culture tempts even those who follow the Lord. The rich agricultural harvest promised by these ancient false gods is a feature of bygone days, but the consumer society that dominates much of the world has a strong appeal to people today.
In Judges 10:6-18 we see an invitation to all Christians to reexamine who they worship, who or what they serve, and what they dream about and seek in life.
6 Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him. 7 So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. 8 From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years—all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead. 9 Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed.
10 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!”
11 So the Lord said to the children of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? 12 Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. 13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore, I will deliver you no more. 14 “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”
15 And the children of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.” 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.
17 Then the people of Ammon gathered together and encamped in Gilead. And the children of Israel assembled together and encamped in Mizpah. 18 And the people, the leaders of Gilead, said to one another, “Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon? He shall be head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.”
When difficult times come, many people turn to the Lord for help. But the Lord demands continual loyalty, not just a cry to Him when they find themselves in distress. In a time of great need for divine guidance, no one would want the Lord to essentially say to them, “Go cry out to the gods which you have chosen.” Rather, we must serve the Lord with all our hearts, our souls, and all our might (Deut. 6:5) for all the days of our lives. He is with us in good times, but also in times of grief, sorrow and great need.