I have been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is for a Christian to “slide” out of a close relationship with Jesus. I use the word slide because usually, it is just that, a slippery slope downward right out of fellowship. It is often an unintended and unexpected slipping and sliding, but it happens regardless of the intent. Maybe on day one of being preoccupied elsewhere, things seem okay, but it doesn’t take many days of ignoring God to find yourself skidding rapidly and regrettably away.
In studying Gideon’s life in the book of Judges, I am reminded how quickly we can go from a heart of soft, palpable flesh to a hardened and thorny heart. Back before any kings ruled Israel, God appointed judges to lead. The people already had a King, God himself, so he gave them earthly judges.
Each of the judges were sent to help rule Israel and to help the people to remain faithful. This leadership was effective for a time. Each time a judge died, the people reverted to a lifestyle away from their God. It never took long for the people of Israel to rebel, to slide swiftly and willingly away from God. As each judge died, the author of Judges, most likely Samuel, wrote something to this effect; the judge died, and the people forgot their God, and they rebelled.
Gideon had led the people in an amazing way. He had gone from being a man hiding in a wine press, hoping to evade detection by the enemy, to a man leading a war party of 300 surrounding a Midian camp of thousands. God had most certainly used Gideon, and the people had seen the results of Gideon’s faithfulness. Gideon had allowed God to use him even though he was scared and worried about the outcome.
But some of the saddest words I have read lately come directly following the announcement of Gideon’s death, “As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping the images of Baal, making Baal-berith their god. They forgot the LORD their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them.” Jdg 8:33-34 (NLT)
UGH! Once again, the people had allowed their hearts to slip away from God. They had not learned the importance of staying close to the one true God. They were lured away by lifeless idols made of wood and stone. How sad! Quickly, they slid back into the sin of Baal worship.
We are not that different. We can easily let our hearts become hardened to things of the Lord. I am convinced that spending time with God DAILY is the remedy for this condition. Psalm 1:1-3 tells us, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (NLT)