One thing that has caught my attention as I've been reading through Judges for my May sermon series is how casual the Israelites were with their devotion to God. In fact, it's hard to say there was any devotion.
Judges presents a very cyclical relationship between the Israelites and God. (This cycle is described in detail in Judges 2.)
The cycle begins with Israel committing evil in God's eyes. God turns them over to foreign rulers who oppress them long enough that they cry out to God for deliverance. God hears their cries, raises up a judge, and delivers them. There is peace in their land for as long as the judge is alive, but after the judge dies they revert back to committing evil in God's eyes, which leads to them being turned over again!
This cycle is particularly noticeable in the story of Deborah, Barak, and Jael (Judges 4). It begins by noting that the Israelites "again" did evil in God's eyes "now that Ehud [the previous judge] was dead" (4:1). I get the sense that they almost couldn't wait for the judge to die so they could go back to their evil ways!
But I wonder where our church might find itself located in this cycle? Are we more casual with our Christianity and faith than we would like to be? I doubt that Israel made a conscious decision to be as evil as they could be. It was probably more like a slow movement away from God.
Samson reminded us how easy it is, even for someone who had been set apart by God, to live your life apart from God. This cycle, which occurs several times in Judges, also reminds us that we are on a journey, moving towards God or away from him. It's important we remember this so we can pay attention to our lives, to the movement of God in our lives, and to our response to God.
May the book of Judges remind you to not be casual with your Christianity.