In his natural state, every man born into the world is a rank idolater.
Today’s passage is a commentary on the whole of the book of Judges. It is not a happy read.
With a quote from Joshua 24:31 we are reminded that during the days of Joshua and those of the elders who outlived him, the people served the Lord. Joshua’s relationship with God influenced a whole generation. God had indeed been with Joshua in the same way he had been with Moses, just as he had promised.
The next generation knew none of this, so they did the human thing: they defaulted to idolatry. One generation serve; the next sinned. Defeat and deliverance followed. But we notice that these weren’t demonstrations of some mere cause and effect mechanism in an impersonal universe. They were because of God’s wrath and mercy. ‘The Lord gave them into the hands of raiders. They violated the covenant that he had made with them, so he withdrew the benefits of his covenant. Yet that covenant was forged from faithful love. So, in wrath, he remembered mercy and heard their cry; ‘the Lord raised up Judges, who saved them’. Yet even the deliverances couldn’t soften their stubbier hearts, and they returned to their idolatry.
In wrath, God remembered mercy, but under the mercy his people forgot God’s wrath.
We don’t need the ‘mists of antiquity’ to hide what God has done: most of us can forget in minutes. Your church and mind are, at the very most, only a few years away from closure. Idolatory is our default sin. It’s the first commandment broken. All else follows from serving the wrong god. God’s faithfulness to his covenant, not the faithfulness of God’s covenant people, delivered the Saviour
Pray for Christian young adults in your church. The pressures to go after the gods of their peers are immense. Can you tell them your stories of God’s great goodness to you?