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Israel Loses God’s Blessings

The Bible in Art: Israel Loses God’s Blessings

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Verses for Consideration: Joshua 6:15-20

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 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.

16 Then the Lord raised up judges,who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands.18 Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

 

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God has blessed us richly. We have his Son, Jesus, who died to take away our sin and rose because he had, in fact, satisfied the punishment we deserve. We have the Holy Spirit, the great Counselor, who has opened our eyes to see the great salvation we have in Jesus. We have the Father, who works on our behalf every day, leading us on the road to eternal life and giving us power to be a blessing to others who are making the same journey with us.

 

Yet Satan tries to stake his claim on our lives. Sometimes he succeeds, and when he does, the Lord disciplines us and makes us cry out for help. Sometimes in kindness he lifts our burden.

The question I would like us to ponder in this devotion is this: Do our lives display a continual pattern of repenting, drifting, rejecting, enduring God’s discipline, and then repenting again? True, we all experience this from time to time in our Christian lives. But does this pattern dominate us?

If so, we must give serious attention to the lesson in our text. This was Israel’s pattern for hundreds of years. They drifted. God sent a foreign nation to oppress them. They cried out to the Lord for help. God sent them a judge. They followed the Lord during the days of the judges. Then they drifted again. Around and around they went, never breaking the cycle by heartfelt repentance and firm dedication to serve the Lord.

In the end it cost them their lives as an independent nation. They forfeited the joy of being a light to the world, displaying to all how God deals with those who love and fear him.

The story of Israel during the judges is recorded in Scripture to warn us not to treat God’s grace lightly. God wants us to yield ourselves fully to him. As we grow in our knowledge of the height, depth, and breadth of his love, God will give us the strength we need to do just that.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me get off whatever spiritual merry-go-round I might be on and serve you with a steadfast spirit. Amen.

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Title: Joshua Addresses the Israelites in Shechem (1517)

Artist: Raphael

 

Note: This drawing on paper was a sketch for one of the fresco’s Raphael made in the Vatican palace. The fresco depicted episodes from the Old Testament.