I’ve just started getting into Judges in the old testament and I’ve just been struck by how endless Gods forgiveness is.
Here’s the background story: God created the world for us to live in, giving us minimal requirements and we screwed up. Instead of just leaving us there, in our own mess, he decided to intervene and clean it up. Even from here it is clear that grace is not reserved for good people; it instead underscores the goodness of God.
So God makes contact, with Israel, one thing I’ve really noted here is that God didn’t give them a list of rules and say, if you sign here, here and here, I’ll help you out. He made contact, made a relationship before he told them what the rules were. They are there to confirm an existing relationship. Essentially, the law is there to show our sin.
So here we are, God with a nation that he’s initiated a relationship with and shown them the sin manifest in them. In Judges 1, The Israelites are finally seeing Gods promise of conquering and then owning the “Promised Land”. Now the conditions here were along the lines of, God will help them, if they keep submitting to him.
Sadly, the nature of humans kicks in and once they got their hands on the prize they began to indulge in whatever they wanted. They forget God and revel in their surroundings. So God no longer ‘protected them’. What’s happened is that now that they’ve got their side of the deal, they don’t think they need it anymore. They start worshipping other gods. You might think that’s ok, but just look up the methods used to worship Baal and Asherahs – I’m pretty sure they involve orgies and copulation with animals and possibly also child sacrifice. So not only are they rejecting the one and only God who saved them out of his kindness and blessed them, but they’re doing all these detestable things along the way.
As God lets their enemies overwhelm them “they cried out to the Lord, [and] he raised up a deliverer” (Judges 3:9)…”For the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them” (Judges 2:18). “But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than their fathers….they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways” (Judges 2:19).
Just flicking through Judges, God sent over 10 judges to save Israel and as each one died they “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” and he gave them what they wanted, the experience of doing life yourself. They then would cry out to him and he’d give them another judge to get them out of their mess. Then the judge died, and the cycle continued.
That bottomless grace is just phenomenal, completely undeserved forgiveness and compassion. And it’s the same grace that God holds out to us in Jesus, you’re welcome to have it whenever you like, it’s always available, always free. Always undeserved.