July 04, 2019

Looking in All the Wrong Places

Judges 2:11-15

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie . . . and served created things rather than the Creator.

—  Romans 1:25

What did Israel do that was so wicked in God’s eyes? “They forsook the Lord . . . and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.” Judges 2:17 describes this as committing adultery with other gods. Many other Bible passages also describe God’s people that way. The people often preferred to “trade in” the God of their salvation for other “saviors.”

Disloyalty, infidelity—“looking for love in all the wrong places”—brings harsh consequences: God turned Israel over to plunderers. God himself turned against them. God’s response makes sense. If you abandon God to seek the life of doing what is right in your own eyes, you can expect those eyes to lead you astray, with inescapable consequences.

Paul describes the consequences of lives driven by base passions: “they are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice” (Romans 1:29). Strangely enough, this debased mind seduces God’s people again and again: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly” (Proverbs 26:11).

The Israelites didn’t suffer because God had abandoned them; they suffered because God was looking after them. “The Lord disciplines those he loves” (Proverbs 3:12). It’s as if God was saying to later generations, “Be careful what your eyes wish for; you may get it.”

May the Spirit of Christ discipline our hearts to desire what is right in God’s eyes.

O Lord, be gracious and deliver me from base desires, for the sake of your steadfast love. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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