‘Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But 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.” As soon as the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the Lord.” – Judges 2:1-5
With the big feast day of Thanksgiving here, families around the United States gather together and give thanks! There is so many awesome parts of this holiday and I’ll be the first to tell you that the food is always a personal favorite of mine! Thanksgiving is always such a special day, the family gets together, everyone cooks up the traditional Turkey and brings side dishes that make mouths water in anticipation for the big meal. I’ve always looked at messages for this day to revolve around the reason for the season and that is “thankfulness.”
Well, this year, God has given me a different message to bring to you and it still involves thanks but it holds so much more than just that! I pray that this message will bring you God’s truth in a way that will sit in your hearts far beyond this one day of celebrating!!
So the Israelites have finally reached the promised land after many years of wandering in the wilderness, they are there! BUT….there are some enemies that they are facing, other nations that already live in the land. They have some major victories over those enemies and although it seemed like everything was going right, God steps onto the scene in the flesh, to bring them the truth of what is going on. (Just learned this; when it says “Angel of the Lord” in the Bible it usually refers to God Himself in the flesh instead of just an angel. Something cool to dig into if you have time because there is many speculations on the matter.)
Like I was saying, God has paid a visit to the Israelites to confront them over their disobedience. Notice what God says first,
“I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you.”
Before God ever speaks about any disobedience or wrongdoing on the part of the Israelites, He first reminds them of who He is and how He has delivered them time and time again, starting in Egypt as He delivered them out of slavery and split the Sea in a AWESOME way that only He can to secure their safety from the pursuing Egyptian army. He also reminds them how He has brought them through the wilderness, where they were at for a long time into the promised land that He swore to give to their fathers.
God has done the impossible time and time again, and isn’t it such a great picture of God’s great love for us that before ever stepping foot into the wrong on our end, He reassures us of our faith in Him by reminding us of what He’s done giving us hope for what’s to come. The last thing He says in this reminder is how He will never break His covenant with them. God will ALWAYS be faithful no matter what, it’s not just what He does, it’s who He is!!!!
Then God confronts the Israelites about their sin and how despite the victory, they disobeyed God as they made covenants with other nations, and allowing their altars to stand for their gods leaving an open spot for those gods to be present in their own lives.
So far we’ve learned that God will and always will keep up His side of the covenant He’s made with us. No matter what God will always be faithful but the problem comes in on our side. The Israelites just like me and you NEED desperately to be constantly reminded of who God is, all He has done and the simple fact that we NEED Him!!!
Israel’s NEED wasn’t for physical things or military power, none of that! Their need was simply a spiritual one and the only fix was God! How awesome is it that God sees our need, confronts us straight up of how we’ve went wrong, and gives us the answer and solution as He gives us the chance to have Himself in our lives.
Our problem we face today isn’t far off from this problem the Israelites face here, it’s actually still the very same problem. In America, the land of abundance, the needs we face aren’t physical (even though at times they can be.) Our greatest need as human beings just as the people of Israel were is spiritual in our need for God. We don’t face struggles in what we have or don’t have, we face struggles in staying near to God. On the day of Thanksgiving, this reminder from God is needed more than ever as I have caught myself every year losing track of all that really matters, then living and acting in the wrong ways because of that. How often do we take a minute and give thanks for the family that we have around us? How often do we give thanks for the family that has went before us, endured some pretty trying times and made it through which makes family today even possible for us? How often do we give thanks for God helping us recognize our greatest need and then gifting us with our greatest need in Himself???
As we recognize areas where we may have been wrong and are reminded by how good and faithful God is, lets look to what He says to the Israelites next.
He says, “I will not drive them out of the land for you.” Talking about the enemy armies that are surrounding them. We know God is more than capable to accomplish this task in His miracle bringing power but why doesn’t He?
God does something so special here as He speaks to them the truth of their situation, God could easily conquer the sin and the problems we face in our weak human lives easily but He disciplines and teaches us through His discipline where we are wrong. God knows our greatest need is for our hearts to be close to His and in this covenant He has with the Israelites, it’s a two sided relationship. In this time God shows how this is a partnership and instead of just beating their enemies easily, He opens up their side of the partnership to make the decision personally to seek Him out and seek to be close to Him, to lean on Him instead of other gods. God gives us the opportunity to come closer to Him in this partnership, as He says He will not drive these people out, it draws us closer as we have already been made aware of our need for Him to do anything period.
This is where it gets good, the Israelites respond with weeping and yelling, crying out in their need for God. They even made some sacrifices to God. This sounds like the response we would want to have ourselves since we have been made aware of our own wrong, taking family and the family that has went before us fore granted. Treating this day to be thankful and eating a lot of food but are we really focused on the big picture of it all? I can tell you personally I’ve had this wrong for a long time, but no more do I want to do that because of all my family before me has done to make the life I have now possible, for the family I have now, and even more so for the family that will be to come after me.
Whether we realize it or not, God is calling us out today, God is reminding us of who He is and all He has done through the many years of our heritage. But most of all, God is giving us hope as He reminds us that the same God that brought us to this place in our lives is the same God who will move us forward, taking our focus from our needs being physical things to focusing and living our lives in a humble thankfulness in our ONE and ONLY need, God!!!!
The Israelites give the perfect response hear but as you read throughout the book of Judges, this response may sound good now like they have really changed their ways, but they continue going back to their old selfish ways over and over again.
We can treat tomorrow as a one day event of being thankful and spending time loving our family intentionally, and that be it, just one day because it’s thanksgiving. But guys, God has given us such truth here, truth that’s so much bigger than just one day! We have been reminded of who God is and the role He plays in our lives as He speaks truth to us, how He has such great love for us and is ALWAYS faithful. We also have been able to recognize the wrong we’ve done on our end and how shaky our end of this partnership can be at times which brings us to our BIG NEED for God in our lives. We recognize these things, so let’s not just make an emotional response to this message or Thanksgiving and let it be just that, a one day temporary response that sounds and looks good on paper. Instead of looking past God and continuing in our own selfish ways, and yes I’m talking to myself too, living lives that carelessly just live with no regards for the people that have went before us and even more so the family that is to come. In each day as we recognize these truths about God, my prayer is that our response is more than just thankful on a one day celebration but a response that seeks out God daily, spends each day living out of thankfulness for who God is, all He has done, all the ones that went before us to get us here and all that are to come in future generations.
For the future family and people of our next generation, it will take a daily recognition of God and our need for Him, a daily striving to live in His ways instead of our own and sacrificing our wants for what the future generations need, which is God and God alone!
Just something to think about today and I hope you have an awesome thanksgiving! Wasn’t sure where that was going to go but I pray it brings a perspective boost to your life and faith that lasts a lifetime and into the lifetimes to come after us!!!