At this point, Israel has been judged for a total of 45 years by both Tola and Jair. After they had both passed, the people of Israel start worshipping the gods of Syria, Zidon, Moab, and the Philistines. Israel spends 18 years under the oppression of the Ammonites and the Philistines, and then begin crying out to the Lord for help. God becomes frustrated with the Israelites because he has saved them time and time again. God tells them that they’re on their own and must now cry out to their other gods. The people of Israel repent and tell God to punish them.
This passage kicks off with the phrase “The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord“. This is a phrase that we’ve heard a few different times (seven to be exact) throughout the book of Judges, so it may go through one ear and out the other, just as many repeated phrases throughout the Bible tend to do. But this phrase has some weight to it! It shows us that the evil of Israel was “extra bad” because they committed their sins before the eyes of God. You might say that it is bad to commit adultery, but it would be exceedingly worse to commit adultery in front of your spouse!
We also see in this story that the Israelites “served the Baals and the Ashtoreths” and “forsook the Lord and did not serve Him”. The people of Israel not only turned away from the Lord, but SERVED and WORSHIPPED the many gods of the cultures they were surrounded with. It seems as though the Israelites were willing to serve and worship anything BUT the one true God. They succumbed to the enticing idols that the Baals and the Ashtoreths had to offer. Don’t we do that all too often in our own lives? We see the things of the world and start trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole in our hearts. Meanwhile, God is patiently waiting, ready to satisfy our hearts to the very fullest (and fill that circular hole).
When we stop serving God and instead run towards the gods of this world, His soul will grieve for our lost hearts.
By: Amber Musen — Experienced-Based Career Education (Lafayette High School) Intern