Israel Turns Away From God
Talking about the Israelites in Canaan can help us in many ways.
We can see how much good leaders can mean to their people. As long as Joshua
lived - - or other men like Caleb and the high priest Eleazar who had seen the
great works of God were alive - - Israel was faithful to God. The next group of
boys and girls, however, grew up without knowing the Lord or the works He had
done for Israel. Soon they turned away from God and even worshipped idols of the
Canaanites. The Bible says everyone began “doing what was right in his own
eyes.” That means they no longer cared about God’s commands. They did exactly
what they wanted to do, whether it was right or not - - something that could
happen today, too.
It’s frightening to think how quickly the Israelites forgot God! Why did this
happen? Certainly the younger people could not have seen wonderful miracles that
happened before they were born. There was a way, though, they could have known
Adults who had been alive then should have taught the children - - all about how
God parted the Red Sea, how He came down on Mt. Sinai and gave the law of Moses,
how He rolled back the raging Jordan River and, later, how He helped them sweep
through Canaan to take the promised land. How sad to think their parents did not
show them God’s way to be happy in this life and have His blessings after death!
There was another reason why the new generation started to worship idols instead
of the living God. At first their fathers obeyed the Lord and started out
breaking down the altars and destroying the wicked Canaanites. Both Moses and
Joshua had warned against leaving the heathen nations there and making treaties
with them. If they were left to live among them, it would be easy to make
friends with them. Soon their sons and daughters would marry into Israel.
The people did not finish driving out the wicked Canaanites, though. Soon what
Moses and Joshua had foretold did happen. God’s own people began bowing down
themselves to the idol god Baal and the goddess Ashtoreth. How sad to think
Israel could forget His wonderful blessings!
How do you think God felt when He saw what was happening? Of course, He was very
angry. He spoke through His Angel at Bochim to declare He would no longer help
them, saying, “I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in
your side and their gods shall be a snare to you.” When the people heard this,
they all wept and offered a sacrifice. But things had gone too far - - they
would have to suffer the consequences of what they had done. Before long, they
saw God meant what He said.
Now God let the nations who were supposed to be their friends overcome them. The
Israelites became slaves again, just as their fathers had been in Egypt. After
they had suffered for many years, however, they remembered God and cried out for
help. And he raised up a special judge to deliver them. This did not happen just
once - - it happened over and over, for about 300 years. The book of Judges
tells about these sad times for God’s people.
The first judge was a man named Othneil, a nephew of Caleb who delivered
Israel from the Mesopatamians. After 40 year of peace, though, Israel sinned
again. This time the Moabites captured them.
Next God raised up Ehud to fight against Eglon, the fat king of Moab. One
day when Ehud was delivering tax money to King Eglon, he said he had a secret
for the king. Ehud was left-handed and Eglon did not know he had a dagger hidden
under his coat. When they were alone, Ehud came near and said, “I have a message
from God for you,” quickly shoving the dagger into Eglon’s fat stomach. Then
Ehud escaped through the porch and locked the door after him.
God used Ehud that day to throw off the rule of Moab. And there was peace in the
land for 80 years.
Talking it Over:
1. Talk about people forgetting God is the One Who blesses them when things go
well. What will we do when we truly understand everything we have comes from
2. How does the knowledge of God help young people avoid a lot of problems other
young people without faith have?
3. Talk about how foolish people were to think a statue of a person, bird, fish
or other animal which they themselves made could help them. What are some other
things people depend on today to make them happy instead of God?
“These words which I command you today shall be in your hearts; and you shall
teach them diligently to your children” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Read the rest of verse seven, then talk about what it all means.
Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times.
Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce
for use, but not for publication.