The covenant that God had made with His people had its requirements. Just as a wife cannot go and become another man’s woman once married. She cannot say, “Oh, that man, is more free with his money. I married a cheapskate. I’ll go be with him.” A husband cannot say, “My wife used to be pretty, but not anymore. She is mean and hard. I know a woman at work who treats me with great respect.” Satan will put these thoughts into our minds to get us to disloyally think. But we need to recognize that they always lead into sin.
Marriage is special because of its oath. The husband and wife are bound together for life. It is a God-given covenant with great similarities to our spiritual covenant. These covenants shape our lives. In America, the power of Christian marriage is seen in the way the wife gives up her family name and lives with her husband. She becomes his. She is no longer free and neither is he. They are bound to each other.
The covenant has many privileges, but it also has its responsibilities. Becoming a Christian is not just leaving the old master but gaining a new. Marriage is not just living with a spouse but inextricably intertwining yourselves with that other one. Another example of this is the master/slave relationship. The Israelites went from one master (Egypt) to another (Yahweh God). The same is true when we become Christians. We go from one master (self) to another (the Lord God). Let’s take a look at what the Lord expected from the Israelites.
Let us note from Judges 2:2 two things that God expected from them. (1) Firstly, they were not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land. The Lord God spoke clearly to them that they were not to associate with them. Their culture was to remain free from influences of their polluted culture. (2) Secondly, the Lord told them to tear down their altars.
People are looking for answers. In every age they want the same things: comfort, security and acceptance. They want relationships. One tendency is to have a tolerant spirit toward others. This tolerant spirit puts a fear in us if we don’t do what they expect. “Perhaps they will reject us,” they think. Insecurity and fears can easily lead to compromise.
When a person is weak of faith, it is easy to think that the gods that the people worship is important to having a good life. If we think having a happy life is the most important thing, then you will attach yourselves to people, things and messages that promise the happiness you desire. But they are completely untested. Their altars must be torn down. The only way to test these products is to live with the people and see if they really are happy. We all know that they are not happy. But deep down inside, we want to believe them. It is time we tear down the altars to these e-based virtual claims. We all know they spent millions of dollars making an ad just so they can get more money. They are willing to lie. They only want your money. We must tear down the altars and unmask the truth. If not, we will deceive ourselves and have our decisions be shaped by their cheap messages.
The world says, “Live like us and you will be happy with us.” “Purchase this cosmetic item, and you will be attractive like us.” “Drive this car, and you will catch the eyes of others like us.” Ads clearly show us powerful messages of the culture. Do you ever follow the talk of the ads? Do the things in the world shape your decisions?
So how did the Israelites respond to the Lord’s two requests? The Israelites made covenants with the people and did not tear down the altars. They did not do well. They failed doing what the Lord asked of them. Considering what the Lord did for them, what the Lord asked was nothing. Even this, however, they neglected doing. The Lord charged them with disobedience and held them accountable for their inappropriate behavior. He said, “What is this you have done?” Remember, the Lord was their Master now. They did not have an option here.
How does this apply to us? In one sense this is easy to make an application. We should not worship the idols of the land. I believe that most of us do not think that we have disobeyed this charge where in fact we have done very poorly in this area. It is not just the Israelites; it is the Christians who have failed. God in a similar way holds us accountable. He says to us, “What is this you have done?”
How have we adopted the culture of those around us? The culture easily influences us through its music, clothes, adopted behaviors such as watching movies and television, etc. The Lord wants us to live in the world but not be of the world. We can ask whether we use His standards to make decisions or just do what other people do. For example, do you discern the music you listen to? What are the movies saying? Why do you still see them? If the music and violent/sexually craved media material carry values that are incompatible with those of the Lord, then how is it that we allow these messages to be absorbed by our lives or that we allow our children to listen to them? Do you know what your children are listening to? Really? Have you checked your children’s blogs? Do you ever talk to them? Do you carefully monitor what sensual sights they see on your screens? What about you? If you watch things that offend the Lord, then be sure you are a hedonist, a pleasure lover. How do I know? Well, you choose to watch what the Lord would not watch. You do not do what your Master would do.
Have we adopted an unwillingness to judge and reject the idols around us? What are some other idols. Idols are those thoughts that direct us to do things other than giving our Lord our full attention and obedience. There is no doubt materialism has been one of these long lasting life-grabbers. Frankly, we need to wonder if the reason we want our children to succeed so much in the world with prestigious jobs is so that they can link you to Mammon. Or down deep in our hearts, we believe that money brings the greatest happiness. There is nothing wrong with being a doctor of course, but why does one want to be a doctor? Why is being a doctor on such a high list? I have encountered a few young people who had a heart for full-time ministry but their parents thought they should be a doctor or at least a well known engineer. “What is this you have done?”
Another area we need to think about is this sexual revolution stirred on by feminism and immorality. Did you ever think if you are training your children to be godly men and women by fitting into God’s traditional roles of husband and wives or fostering women careers above that of being a wife. This goes totally against God’s purpose for women and is destroying the church, marriage and the family. What are children learning? They are learning that money is more important than cultivating values at home. They are learning that money and prestige are more important than the quiet works of love at home.
The Lord asks the people, “What have you done?” It is a question that He asks us today, too. How is it possible that we have veered so far from God without being deliberate about it? The truth is that being a Christian requires a deliberate heart and mind. One cannot coast about in his or her Christian life. If you are not purposed in seeking after the Lord, then you will slide into the ways of the world. If you do not consciously reject attitudes of the world, then you will adopt them. => Next