The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”
When the angel of the Lord finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. So they called the place Bokim (which means “weeping”), and they offered sacrifices there to the Lord.
This event marks a significant shift in Israel’s relationship with God. At Mount Sinai, God made a sacred and binding agreement with the Israelites called a covenant (Exodus 19:5-8). God’s part was to make Israel a special nation (Genesis 12:1-3), to protect them, and to give them unique blessings for following him. Israel’s part was to love God and obey his laws. Because they rejected and disobeyed God, however, they would face severe consequences related to their disobedience. This was just what God had promised would happen (Deuteronomy 28:15ff).
But God wasn’t going to abandon his people. His promise remained valid: He would continue to make Israel a nation through whom the whole world would be blessed—fulfilled in the Messiah’s coming. God still wanted the Israelites to be a holy people, and he often used oppression to bring them back to him, just as he warned he would do (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). The book of Judges records a number of instances where God allowed his people to be oppressed so that they would repent of their sins and return to him.
God invites you to be part of his work in the world, and one big way is by obeying his word and the leading of his Spirit. Jesus was the perfect example of what that kind of life looks like. He accomplished what Israel could not. His life reminds us that we will not always be comfortable or safe from harm, but we will be given new bodies and new lives. And we will be with God forever.
Are you living in harmony with God’s word, his work, and his world? Is there something in your life that you’re still holding onto, afraid to give up, or not wanting to miss out on? Remember God’s promises of what is to come. Take time to read Isaiah 65:17 and think about all you could miss out on by not obeying God.