The great love story - Judges 2:10-17
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The account of Judges shows the deeper causes of the spiritual degradation of God's people. This section of Judges gives us details of this rebellion and its consequences. Let us pay attention to what we are told here, as it will allow us to read Ruth with a greater understanding of the context.
1. What happens despite all of God's warnings?
This passage tells us what happens after the death of Joshua and his generation. The people turned away from God because there was no one to guide them to God. The parents may have been faithful, but they did not take care to transmit this fidelity to their children. It should not surprise us that the people have done wrong in the eyes of God. Without really knowing God, the ‘other gods’ appear much more attractive to us. That is what happened to Israel: the gods of the surrounding peoples were gods of the earth and the worship sought to win their favor for the fertility of crops and that of their families. You could negotiate with the gods and buy their favors. And they did not demand an ethical behavior that would reveal the character of these gods. It is the perfect breeding ground for the spiritual chaos that we see in the rest of the Book of Judges.
It is easy, with the perspective that distance gives us, to criticize those generations. But we must remember that as we read the Bible, it challenges us today. What warnings are there for you in this passage?
2. God is faithful to his word, what does he do to help his people?
In his wisdom, God allows the people to experience the pain of being away from God. Instead of being free in God's land, the people are delivered into slavery (as we see in Judges 3:8). In this spiritual bondage, Baal proves unreliable. It may be that the land produced its fruit, but it was others who enjoyed it. The account tells us that "they were in great distress."
3. What is the reaction of the Israelites?
In their agony, the people turned to God. God then raised up judges who freed them from their slavery to enjoy peace and harmony once again with God. But our passage ends with a note of pessimism: ‘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.', v. 17. This is the context of the great love story that we are seeing: a rebellious people who suffer the agony of their sin and a merciful God who does not abandon his own despite their being unworthy of this love.
Think: Reading Judges is uncomfortable. It shows us a God who is loyal to his people and does not abandon them even when they turn away from him. But he is also a fair judge, who makes his people face the consequences of their actions. Finally, it shows us that someone must come and rescue God's people from slavery; slavery for which they are responsible. It is uncomfortable because it makes us evaluate our life and recognize our natural tendency to distance ourselves from God. It is uncomfortable, but at the same time it is liberating because it shows us the way out of this self-inflicted damage. The only way to fully enjoy life is to give ourselves totally to God and trust the one who comes to judge and save.
Here we have completed our study of the context surrounding the Book of Ruth. God is a faithful God, but his people choose not to trust him and follow other paths. What can someone who lives like this expect? Who could rescue us from this spiral of destruction?
Ideas for prayer: Thank God for his faithfulness. Ask that you might respond in the same way. Thank God that Jesus gives us an abundant life.
Translated from the Chilean Common Prayer Book, prayer for spiritual growth. Page 32.
O Lord Jesus Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, grant us the grace and humility to receive your holy Word, by which we can become wise for salvation, and the honor of your name. Amen.