ODJ: Not Losing Our Way

March 30, 2016 

READ: Judges 2:1-15 

They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them (v.12).

A newly elected senator vows to be a new kind of politician, but by the time he runs again he’s in the pocket of special interest groups. An actress goes to Hollywood to star in wholesome movies, but soon she compromises. Both started out trying to reach the world, but instead they lost their way.

This was Israel’s problem during the time of the Judges. Israel entered the Promised Land from the mountains in the east. They could have remained in those mountains, safe and isolated from the cosmopolitan, advanced culture in the coastal plain. But an international trade route ran through the coastal plain. If God was going to reach the world with His message of salvation, His people would have to move into the land.

As the Israelites moved down and their enemies went up, they met in the central hill country, called the Shephalah. There the Israelites “failed to drive out the people living in the plains” (Judges 1:19). Instead, they were content to live among them (2:2). They “intermarried with them,” and “the Israelites [began to serve] their gods” (Judges 3:6). God sent His angel to pronounce judgment (2:4). Because Israel disobeyed and didn’t destroy the pagan altars, their neighbors’ idolatry would remain as “a constant temptation” and as a thorn in their side (vv.2-3).

What’s your “Shephalah”? Who are you trying to reach for Jesus? It might seem easier to sit back in what you feel is a safe place, but God has called us to take His message to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). And He is with us in our “Shephalah.” Bathe yourself in prayer. Be accountable to someone—making sure you’re bringing His light and love to the world, while not compromising or losing your way.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: 1 Samuel 20:1-42

Read Judges 16:4- 21 to learn of some temptations that can destroy us in the “Shephalah.” 
Where have you been tempted to compromise your Christian values? What area of your life do you need to recommit to Jesus today?