I Thought I was Superman! Judges 2
Summary: The angel of God spoke with Israel at Gilgal and asked them why they had made covenants with the foreigners in their land rather than destroying their alters to foreign gods. Then the writer explains that Israel served God during the life of Joshua and the leaders he raised up, but then they forgot God whom they had not experienced. Now Israel was living in a land that was partially theirs, but partially controlled by the Canaanites. They began a cycle of 1) Worshiping other gods, 2) Canaanites push them out of their land, 3) Suffering under Canaanite oppression, 4) Call out to God, 5) God delivers them from their enemies and they live in peace.
Section Theme: At first glance Israel appears to be the victim of stronger people whose power is greater. However, the angel of God makes it clear that because they didn't want to get rid of these false gods, Israel would come under their power. Judges 2:3 So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides,and their gods will be a constant temptation to you. When Israel tried to attack their enemies the writer explains Judges 2:15 Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress. God fought against Israel! These nations were more powerful than Israel, their initial defeat was at the hand of God, using Israel as His weapon. When Israel confused their former victories with their own power they quickly discovered their need for God.
How Quickly I Forget: There are many apparent weaknesses in my life that make me human. I cannot do the things of life that I want a supernatural outcome from in my own strength, I must rely on God. I want to be part of building God's Kingdom, but it has to be safely within the realm of my theology and control. While that seems obvious to some, the way I live many times make it obvious that I want the supernatural in my own strength. In short, I want to be Superman!
Israel forgot the power of God that brought them through the Wilderness and that gave them the land. They tried to live in God's land without God, on their own power and strength.
I can use tools to order my life and accomplish the tasks and vision for the day, but these don't substitute for the source of God's activity in my life and in the lives of those I work with. While the organizational methods I use can help, they are no replacement for the connection with God and my admission and request for Him to work in ways only He can.
Israel lived in a very real land, with the same kind of influences that I face. As I was in Israel, we spent time in the rural areas that Israel often lived in. The cities like Jerusalem, Tiberias and Tel Aviv, were so far from the ancient message of the Bible. These cities lived in a very modern age and viewed Israel as an irritant. Israel would easily assimilate into this culture, rather than confronting it by living out God's commands. That's what they ended up doing. These chapters in Judges show Israel either assimilating into the lands God promised them by moving into the culture rather than confronting them and transforming them; or Israel settled into the hill country and setting up a different culture in obedience to God, but non-confrontational. That's not what God wanted either.
The message to me for today is that God wants me to follow Him by living out the life He called me to and invade the culture with it. I do this by my private walk and public story of that walk. The power for that walk is prayer to God to intervene, guide, re-shape me and others through me. So it isn't just personal organization and work, or Scripture reading, prayer or the fact that I work in a Church ought to be enough. I listen, ask for God's work, and live the life with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
Today, I choose to order my day, and ask for God to guide me, and transform me and those I serve. Through that, let God work through me. The man is just me, the Super is God working it all out through me. Philippians 3:21.