If you’ve read the Bible at all, or seen movies, you’ve heard how God used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and was leading them to the land God had promised until God got so frustrated by their constant bad behavior that he punished them by keeping them in the desert for 40 years until all the originally freed people were dead. Then he used Joshua and Caleb to finally take the people until the land. They were allowed to go in after the 40 years because they had trusted God when he sent them to spy out the land, but the other spies were afraid and said it was a bad idea to go into the land. The other spies scared the people with stories of giant soldiers and gave them bad advice and the people didn’t want to go. Even after God repeatedly proved his ability to save them from every calamity, they still did not trust him or want to serve him. This lack of faith and wandering off to worship other gods became a well-established pattern for the Israelites.
In the New Testament Christians are sometimes referred to as the ‘bride’ of Christ and other words such as marriage, adultery, marriage ceremony, are used to compare our interactions and the intimate relationship a believer has with the LORD. It occurred to me that what happened over and over with the people of Israel is the 7 year itch. The 7 year itch is a phrase meaning that after seven years of marriage, one or both partners might get a little bored and start looking around at other people for the excitement and intimacy that has dwindled in their relationship. The ”honeymoon is over” is a common saying during the years when people start get over the infatuation and lust stage and move into the more routine days of living with someone who has faults and wants things their way.
It’s the same with how many people treat their faith and relationship with their Lord. Most people are pretty excited when they first believe and have their sins forgiven and realize how blessed they are to be saved. They usually read the Bible, go to church and tell others about what God has done for them. But over the years, they may let the busyness of life creep in, stress, old habits, old sins and before they know it, they are not following God at all! They might still do some of that or none, but they don’t listen to the Holy Spirit, they ignore it and they put themselves back in the driver’s seat of life instead of relying on God’s wisdom and commandments. No time for Bible study or fellowship or prayer other than in time of crisis, if that.
The spiritual closeness and power they once had is so low they can’t even feel it. They come to depend on other things when they feel anxious. We all know what those things are. Booze, drugs, prescriptions, caffeine, exercise, food, shopping, internet, porn, drama, power, work, video games, and other idols that do nothing to truly love us and care for us like God does, like our LORD will if we turn back to him. Most of these can be used in moderation without being harmful, but when we NEED them to get through a stressful day, we have become dependent. As Christians, we are to depend on God. (I’m not taking about never using medication.)
Why did the Israelites turn to idols? Well , remember that in those days Jesus had not be born yet. Every person did not have access to God directly through Jesus and the Holy Spirit like we do now. God placed His Spirit in select people at select times. The rest of the people were dependent on their leaders, namely the priests, prophets and later the kings, to guide them and keep then on track with the Law. But over and over, even after they left the wilderness, the leaders went astray in their own lives and the people followed right after them up to the hills to sacrifice to idols, even placing their live children on the altars. Humans of other cultures have done the same but these were God’s chosen people. If even these people could not maintain their faithfulness, how could anyone? If people who had been privileged to have GOD living among them, showing them his great power, performing miracles and wonders , could not keep that in their puny minds for a lifetime, how can we? We have seen and heard it all in the Scriptures, yet we fail.
But, God! Praise God that he knows our weakness and he sent his only son Jesus to take our punishment and to cover us with his righteousness and bridge the gap. Praise Him for his mercy and grace on our failure as humans. Praise Him for his patience and kindness in sending us Jesus and his disciples and giving us the written Word . He will be coming back and he will be executing his plan to redeem his chosen people at the proper time along with the Gentiles that have been grafted in. The judgment will also come in which those who have rejected his Son will be eternally punished. Pray that you will be ready. Pray that you will be found doing the Lord’s will. Pray that you will be counted a good and faithful servant.