Sunday, June 6, 2010


But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24:15b (NIV)

If ever there was a case study regarding the effects that change has on our lives, it's the account of God's ancient people, the children of Israel. These effects, which played out in a cycle of sin--sorrow--supplication--salvation--sin recurred, are demonstrated in three periods of Israel's history.

In the beginning, God warned Adam not to choose what looked right in his own eyes, but to follow God's instructions. Still, Adam and Eve chose to go their own way and brought upon themselves the tragic consequences of broken fellowship with God.

But God, full of compassion for His people, had a plan to reconcile the world to Himself; a plan that began with one man, Abraham. Through Abraham and his descendants God made the nation Israel from whom all the world would be blessed.

At risk of being drawn into the religious practices of their pagan neighbors, God kept this small group a unified people by sending them from Canaan into Egypt. While in Egypt, the family of seventy grew into a nation of 650,000 men, plus all the women and children. Fearful that they would be overrun by the Hebrew people, the Egyptians forced the Israelites into slavery. God heard His children's cries for deliverance, and in response, sent Moses to lead His people out of bondage and back to the Promised Land. The first five books of the Bible record this approximate 600 years of history of God's people, from the call of Abraham to Moses' leading the Israelites to the edge of the land of Canaan.

A second transitional period began when the new generation of enthusiastic followers of God entered the land God had promised to Abraham's descendants. Recorded in the Old Testament books of Joshua, Judges and Ruth, this tumultuous period lasted about 360 years.

Even as God gave control of the Promised Land to the children of Israel through Joshua's victories, signs of unfaithfulness appeared. Rather than persist in the task of securing the land and driving out the inhabitants, the Israelites became content to settle alongside the Canaanites. Surrounded by the worship of many gods, the Israelites overlooked the evils of paganism. Instead of the people of God pulling their neighbors toward Him, the Baal worshipers pulled God's people toward Baal.

God had warned Israel of this great danger, and the period following Joshua's death was a very difficult, unsettled time in Israelite history. Becauses of God's great love for His children, He disciplined them in the form of oppression so they might return to Him. Only when the situation became unbearable did the people turn to Him in desperation. In humility, they repented and followed His way. Soon, however, pagan influences pulled them away once more. The Israelite's continued indulgence in pleasure and selfish desires dulled their love for God. It lessened their respect for His authority until God described them as "Every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

The books of 1 and 2 Samuel cover a third period of transition. After almost four centuries without central leadership, the Israelites were frustrated. Concluding that their troubles were political, the people requested a king. An earthly king. Blind to the fact that their political problems had a spiritual cause, the dilemma wasn't their request itself but the reasoning behind the request. In this transitional era, the people of Israel moved from their dependence on God toward the leadership of man.

Throughout history, God has remained faithful to His people even in periods characterized by unfaithfulness. He has proven Himself a patient, just and merciful judge who keeps His promises, brings victory, and expects obedience.

Whenever we make a change in our activities, relationships, employment or location, we invite new distractions and influences into our lives. Follow after God's heart, my friend. For faithfulness surely is the key to success; disobedence can only spell disaster.

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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