Following the Leader…or Not

I had a good day at my outpatient therapy session today. I have benefited as much as possible on the Occupational Therapy side of my recovery. So, they will discharge me and I will continue to work on my arm and shoulder strength and range of motion issues with the exercises that I have learned. I practiced using some arm crutches today, during my Physical Therapy session, as an option for my mobility. That may be the next step in my independence as far as walking.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… They stopped worshiping the LordEvery time they would go into battle, the Lord was against them, just as he had said he would be. They were in great distress…Then the Lord gave the Israelites leaders who saved them from the raiders. But the Israelites paid no attention to their leaders….Whenever the Lord gave Israel a leader, the Lord would help that leader and would save the people from their enemies as long as that leader lived..But when the leader died, the people would return to the old ways and behave worse than the previous generation.”  Judges 2:16-19

“Every nation is one generation away from moral decline.” We certainly see that in the history of God’s people as they enter into the promised land. We can also observe how important leadership is for people to stay committed and focused.

Proverbs 29:18 says it well, “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

While the Lord desired to be the leader of His people through the prophets and priests, the people just could not keep their focus and commitment to the Lord and His ways. It started when they entered into their possession and against the Lord’s instructions made treaties with the people of the land. Then they intermarried with the people of the land. Then they adopted the idols of the people of the land as their god. Then they cast off all restraint.

Judges 2, is a prelude to the Book of Judges. Before going into the specific history, the stage is set for the pattern that will be followed for several hundreds of years. The people forsake the Lord. They suffer the consequences of their disobedience by being defeated by enemies around. They cry out to God. God sends a “leader, a judge” to rescue them. They enjoy peace for 40 years (as many as 80) and then when that leader is gone, when a new generation arose, they reverted back to disobeying the Lord and falling captive to their enemies.

This cycle can be observed during the time of the judges and through the reign of the kings of Israel. Finally the Lord said, “enough” and He allowed them to be taken captive and removed from their land.

Some random thoughts and observations as I reflect on this history…

1 – The downward inertia of the human condition – Left to our own devices, we can not be right, do right, regardless of “what we know.” That is why through Christ we have God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness extend to us on a continual basis. This is what enables us to break our own downward cycle of destruction.

2 – Leadership is a human need – An trainer of leaders once told his audience, “if people could get the place where they need to be in their lives and as a group on their own they would not need you.” The reality is they can’t and won’t and we need those who will speak into our lives and to guide and direct our lives. Good leaders see good result, poor leaders, corrupt leaders, see the fruit of their efforts too.

3 – Guarding the future generations – God’s people were not able to “keep their act together” for more than a generation or two. Much of that had to do with God’s people not being able to keep their obedience to God in the midst of a corrupt world. While Christ followers are called to be a light to darkness, there is a risk of being overwhelmed and giving into the darkness around. That is why Peter challenged believers to be “vigilant and alert.” The old adage of “being in the world, but not of the world” still applies; perhaps more than ever.

4 – The Mercy of God –  The Lord in His mercy would respond to the cry of His people. His answer was through raising up leaders, divine intervention and eventually divine judgment. But even in the judgement is when the Lord gave the reassurance, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I am thankful the Bible is so open in the struggles and failures of God’s people throughout history. That gives us insight into God’s character and hope for our own lives and future. But let’s be wise and learn and live so the cycle of the past doesn’t have to be repeated in us and future generations.