What is this you have done?
By Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller
In Judges 2:2, God asks, “What is this you have done?” of the Israelites after they resist his directions. He draws their attention to the reason for their current difficulties, which he has provided for the consequences of their disobedience. His intention is to motivate them to see the damage sin brings. Yet, they seem clueless. They don’t see the connection.
Clueless could really be every person’s middle name. At the time of temptation, we are blinded by the demand of our own desires, which seems absolutely reasonable to choose. We expect our choice will bring our good. And then God or people don’t respond according to our selfish expectations. We wonder why and act sinfully, feeling justified. Then we should ask, “What is this I’ve done?”
Judges 1 gives the back story to God’s question. The Israelites enter the land promised them by God, but they don’t fulfill their part of the covenant. God promises to empower them for war to take total possession of the land of milk and honey. Instead the Israelites allow many of the Canaanites to live among them.
As a result, God says, “You have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you” (Judges 2:2-3, italics added). He is asking them to evaluate their motives of demanding their own way, thinking the Canaanites offer some kind of benefit. They refuse the truth God will only drive out the Canaanites if they obey. God keeps his part of the covenant—the Israelites will still inhabit the land, but it won’t be as trouble free as it could have been. The remaining unbelievers will be a temptation for the Israelites to abandon worshipping their true Lord God.
What motivates the Israelites to disobey their loving Master who knows what is best for them. Are they worried? Their strong and courageous leader, Joshua, has just died and they are without leadership. After traveling together for a long time, each tribe has now gone off to inhabit their assigned land. Do they feel alone? On their own? Sometimes those are the feelings and lies we believe when God doesn’t seem faithful.
Often, we think God has promised us some “land,” and then obstacles block or hinder us from having complete fulfillment. There’s the possibility we didn’t hear correctly, or we have disobeyed. If some people are thorns in our side, what is God trying to reveal about the motives of our own hearts? Have we begun worshipping something or someone else rather than our faithful God? Has our trust in God diminished because what we thought was promised hasn’t occurred? Or maybe the thorny people are just the hazards of living in a sin-controlled world and their presence says nothing about whether we obeyed.
But we can be assured this fact is absolute truth: God is faithful. He always keeps his covenants and promises even if he must allow consequences for our disobedience. But like the Israelites, even consequences of “thorns” and “temptations” are God’s faithful calling to motivate us to turn back to him.
Almighty God, I praise you for your faithfulness, even though I am not faithful. Thank you for staying true in wanting my best.
The Millers have been in ministry since 1978 as speakers, authors, and lay counsellors. They married in 1970 and God empowered them to overcome the dysfunctional marriage and family they had developed early in their marriage. Larry is a retired police lieutenant from Huntington Beach Police Department. Both individually and as a couple they have authored over 55 books and spoken in nine foreign countries. They live in Southern California and are parents and grandparents. Visit them at www.KathyCollardMiller.com
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This guest blog is adapted from God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature
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