"Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their forefathers did." ~Judges 2:20b-22
Every disobedience has a consequence. As children, when we would disobey our parents, we were disciplined. As an adult in the workplace and in life in general we still face consequences and may be reprimanded or even fired for not following instructions. You break the law; you face the courts. You abuse your body, you suffer health problems. The list goes on and on. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. (Isaac Newton) We can't expect to live any way we want without facing the results of our actions. Yet that is precisely what the Israelites chose to do.
Here God had given into their hands a beautiful home to call their own. All they had to do was take it and destroy the pagan worship that existed there. Along the way, He even provided a new kind of leadership to help them move forward. After Joshua died, the leadership were the elders of each of the tribes. So God provided judges to preside over all the people and give guidance. Yet they ignored them and "prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them." (2:17b) So what was their consequence for breaking covenant with God? He did not give them victory over their enemies. They had to live among those with the foreign gods and they had to battle their enemies. God was not going to pave the way for them. It's kind of like a parent practicing tough love. As a parent, we can make the way easy for our children. But if they choose to not obey our instructions and/or the rules of our home, then we can let them fend for themselves so to speak. It's taking the easy road or the difficult one. It's their choice.
It seems that God has two levels of obedience. (Hear me out. This isn't heresy.) One is foundational and mandated. The ten commandments for one. Very clear "rules" that we are to follow. Some may call them rigid and restricting, but they are for our own good. I would equate it to God telling the Israelites to get rid of all foreign gods and worship Him alone. That is a basic precept -- to have no other God's before Him. He also gave them judges to rule and instructed that those He places in authority over you should be respected and obeyed. Another basic precept. Yet the Israelites chose to ignore the judges and suffered the anger of God. Disobedience of God's instructions can have dire consequences in our lives and should not be taken lightly.
The second level of disobedience is the daily guidance by the Holy Spirit. It's those times that we know the Spirit is prompting us to do something....like visit a sick friend. Or do something kind for a stranger. Maybe it's confronting a friend on sin in their life. Or removing something from your own life that in and of itself is innocuous but that has hindered you having healthy relationships - with God and others. These are not necessarily sins against God's edicts, but they are hindering you and others from His full blessings. Jesus told us He would send a Counselor to guide us. When we choose to ignore that guidance, we are missing out on a much fuller life than we have now. And continually disobeying those promptings could eventually lead us down a path of greater disobedience, compromise, and sin.
Whether we can see the big picture or not, when God says something, He means it. We must make the decision whether we are going to trust Him and accept His full counsel or not. The results of our choices are consequences or blessings. He has given you the right to choose.
- Are there foundational laws that God has established that you are willfully disobeying? Confess those sins now and make a 180 degree turn from them. He will forgive you.
- Are there blessings that you are missing out on because you choose not to follow God's promptings? Why are you ignoring Him?
- Can you trust God? Why or why not?
- Are you experiencing consequences of your sin? If so, recognize that God can use them for good. (Read 3:1-4 and stand up to the challenge.)
Father, I want everything you have for me in my life. I want to be a blessing to You and to others. Forgive me for the laws I have broken. I sinned against You. And forgive me for the times I ignored your Spirit's promptings. I made others and myself miss out on Your blessings. Lord, I want to do better as Your servant. I accept the consequences to my choices and trust You completely. You are my God and You alone. Amen.