Stuck In a Cycle
Scripture: Judges 2:11-23
Have you ever felt stuck?
Maybe it was something originally only intended to be a secret one-time compromise to help you manage in a trying time, but it has come to manage you. You might be significantly down an increasingly unfulfilling career path with no end in sight. You might be enduring chronic pain. Perhaps it is a crushing mortgage payment, student loan debt, medical expenses, or credit card bill.
During the process of conquering and settling the land promised by God the Hebrews found themselves stuck. The religious customs and deities of their neighbors seemed alluring add ons to their faith. Maybe they rationalized to themselves that Yahweh was a great warrior God, but other gods were needed to help with crops, hunting, and increasing your family. Whatever the reason they kept worshipping other gods their neighbors relied upon. And time and time again this led to misfortune, and trouble with their enemies plundering or conquering them. God would have pity and raise up a spirit-empowered leader to deliver the people from their oppressors.
That God-selected leader for the Hebrew people was called a judge. Yet whenever she or he would die the people would fall right back into disobedience, sin, and rebellion against God. They would be worse off. This became known as they cycle of the judges. It is repeated over and over again in the book of Judges. It is clear the people were stuck in a cycle of sin.
It would seem the people were more disturbed by the negative consequences of sin, then they were by their spiritual rebellion against God. God would raise a judge who would deliver the people from the negative consequences of their sin, and in no time they would go right back to sinning. The deepest transformation speaks to our motivations, desires, and goals. It is not behaving well to gain secondary rewards or avoid punishment. God is always concerned with our heart-motivation. When we offer God anything less we find ourselves forever stuck in our relationship with God. When we offer God our whole selves we find hope and freedom in any pressing situation.