Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Does God ever give up?  Does He ever just throw up His hands and say "I'm done".  At first glance, when I ask myself this question, if feels wrong.  Isn't God patient?  Doesn't He model the perfection of forbearance?  It doesn't feel very loving for God to give up on us.

In one sense, God never gives up.  He pursues us, attempts to bring us to Him, invites us, and desires us.  His love for us drives Him to pursue us.

Having said that, I do believe that there is a time when God gives up - a better way of saying that would be "lets us go our own way".

In my study of Judges, this section popped up in chapter 2:

20 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 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.” 23 The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

He had promised to drive out the nations that lived in Canaan.  He promised that the Israelites would have victory over their enemies.  What changed?  

These statements were given right after the summary of how the Israelites moved into the Canaanite culture and, instead of conquering it, adopted it.  They settled into the towns that they had conquered - they set up house, arranged their furniture in the rooms, put the rugs down, hung curtains and settled in.  They didn't move toward removing the nations from among them.  They settled in.

The problem of settling instead of conquering was that they adopted the worship practices of the idols of these nations.  Judges 2 records that they abandoned God and worshiped the idols.  From a 3500 years later perspective, it is hard for me to believe that this only took one generation to happen.  They knew the stories of God; how He brought them from Egypt, how He carried them for 40 years in the dessert, how He subdued the enemies in Canaan, but they chose to abandon God.

That is the operative word - they chose to abandon God.  God pursued them by allowing nations to conquer them and by giving them judges, but they still chose to abandon him.  Pursuit after pursuit after pursuit failed - they chose to move away from God instead of move toward Him.  After many attempts to pursue, God allowed them to continue in their path and removed the barriers that were in front of them.  He didn't give up, He just allowed them to move in the direction that they wanted to move in: in spite of the consequences.  (Also see  Romans1.)

Obvious question - when will this happen to us?  When will God stop putting up guard rails and let us go our own way (which will never result in a life giving result.....)?  You never know.  You never know when your rebellion will result in God saying "OK, I will let you go your own way; I will not stop you".  Read the rest of Judges and see what happens when He allows us to move in our own direction. (And yet He still was waiting to take them back!)

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