2. An Unconditional Love: Judges
Your belonging doesn’t depend on your holding onto God but on God holding on to you!
Now the angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this thing that you have done?" -Judges 2:1-2:
God was faithful to give the Promised Land to his people the Israelites; in response, he asked for Israel’s faithfulness to him. But unfortunately, in the period of Israel’s history recounted in the book of Judges, we see anything but faithfulness to God. Instead, we watch as Israel spirals into sin. Judges 21:25 describes this time-period saying, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
Israel’s rulers in this time are called judges, and most of them do not lead Israel well. The Israelites abandon God and begin worshiping the idols of the land. They become extremely morally corrupt, with horrible accounts of things like violence and rape marking their history.
We see a cycle develop throughout the book: The people sin. God allows their enemies to overtake them. The people repent. God delivers them and appoints a new judge over them. There is temporary peace. But then the people go right back to their old sin and the cycle continues.
This period of Israel’s history is a sobering reminder of the human condition. Like Israel, we as humans are incapable of remaining loyal to God. We continually stray from him and go back to our sin. But this account is also a picture of God’s faithfulness. Hear these words from God in Judges 2:1: “I will never break My covenant with you.”
God lets the people experience the consequences of their sin, but he does not abandon his people. Though they continue to fall away, God continues to deliver them, not because they deserve it, but because of His promise and His compassion.
God would have been justified to move on from the Israelites, but he couldn’t give up on his people. God sent Jesus to be everything and more than what the judges were to be for Israel.
On earth, Jesus lived a perfect life, faithfully fulfilling God’s conditions so that we could be loved unconditionally. He was forsaken by God on the cross so that God would never have to turn away from us. He rose from the grave that we might be given everlasting life. Jesus leads His people in righteousness, in flourishing, and in peace.
God’s faithfulness through Christ allows you to belong to him. And because God is unconditionally loyal, he won’t abandon you, even when you run from him. Your belonging doesn’t depend on your holding onto God but on God holding on to you!
What happens when you decide you don’t like the path of following Christ? When you pursue things you know he commands against such as pornography, or success at the cost of community, sex outside of marriage, or profit at the cost of unethical decisions? When you turn your back on God to pursue these things, if you are in Christ, he won’t turn his back on you. He’ll keep chasing after you!
This good news is an invitation to respond to and embrace God in return.
RESPOND: Take a moment to sit at the foot of the cross and reflect on the ways you might be running from God. Then, thank God for his unconditional love.