Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers. Yet Israel did not listen to the judges but prostituted themselves by worshiping other gods. How quickly they turned away from the path of their ancestors, who had walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands.
Whenever the Lord raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the Lord took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
During this period of history, Israel went through seven cycles of (1) rebelling against God, (2) being oppressed by enemy nations, (3) being delivered by a God-fearing judge, (4) remaining loyal to God under that judge, and (5) again forgetting God when the judge died.
Why would the people of Israel turn away from God to Baal and Asherah? The Canaanite religion appealed to the sensual nature and promised more short-term benefits—sexual freedom, more children, better farmland. People could fulfill their religious requirements and still indulge their own desires. Engaging male and female prostitutes was not only allowed but encouraged as a form of worship. They could do almost anything they wished and still obey at least one of the many Canaanite gods.
Faith in the one true God, however, does not offer short-range benefits that appeal to our sinful human nature. Because of that we can tend to follow the same cycle—remaining loyal to God as long as we are near those who are devoted to him. When we are on our own, however, the pressure increases to be drawn away from God.
We must seek Christ’s help to live God’s way. As we live nearer and nearer to him, the pressure to sin will diminish and the desire the obey God will increase. How can you invite Christ into your day-to-day routines so that he becomes more and more part of your life?