The Israelites in Judges 2 did not set out to defy God or openly rebel against Him. They continued to be religiously observant. They continued to do charitable works. They went through the motions of their religion. But they had squeezed the Truth of who God is to the margins of their lives. They didn't deny Yahweh or remove Him from their society. They simply pushed Him off to the side and denied Him His central place. They wanted to worship God, but they also wanted to enjoy the Canaanite ways.
The seeds of Israel's decline began with spiritual compromise—the same kind of spiritual compromise we now see throughout America. Our churches are compromising the Truth of the Gospel. Even many self-proclaimed evangelical Christians are compromising Biblical Truth and morality, not wanting to appear intolerant.
God will not share His people with other gods. He will not tolerate idolatry.
In Truth, our God is an intolerant God—and rightfully so. He tells us, "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:4-5a). That is an intolerant statement by a righteously intolerant God. That's what He means when He tells us He is a "jealous" God. He will not share His people with other gods. He will not tolerate idolatry.
Tolerance is not always a virtue. Showing tolerance toward sin, idolatry, blasphemy, demonic practices, and immorality is no virtue at all. Such tolerance is an offense to God, and it should be an offense to you and to me.
When Christians tolerate evil, when they allow moral lines to become blurred, then Christ is dethroned as Lord. Once He is relegated to being just one way to God among many, once He is no longer the way, the Truth, the life, and the only way to God the Father, moral relativism is sure to follow. Once Christianity becomes just another religious philosophy, the seeds of destruction have been planted. The authentic Christian faith is not a moral principle or a spiritual practice. It's a relationship with the one who is the only way to eternal life.
Prayer: God, forgive me for going through the motions of Christianity. I want You on the throne. May the things that offend You offend me. And what You love may I love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" (Deuteronomy 4:24).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Beware of Spiritual Amnesia: LISTEN NOW