And He sold them into the hands of the Philistines Judges 10:7
Sold – Prognostication is a useful art. It’s too bad that we’re not more adept at it. Unfortunately, when it comes to foretelling, most human attempts are nothing more than trial and error, with lots of error. Fortunately, God’s prognostication is never mistaken. The only problem is that we don’t pay much attention to what God says. Apparently, we prefer our errors to God’s truth.
That’s pretty much the pattern of Israel after the exodus. By the time Israel occupied most of the land of Canaan, they forgot God’s warnings about the tragic results of idolatry. They entered into the worship of the local fertility gods, much in the same way that we have entered into the worship of our local fertility gods. You know, the gods of a better life, more money, faster cars, bigger retirement accounts, celebrity idols and the whole culture of consumption. Just as Israel believed that serving and sacrificing to these fertility gods would improve their circumstances, so we serve and sacrifice to our contemporary versions – all in the name of self-improvement.
God’s warnings are the same because the pattern produces the same results. Prideful economic self-reliance brings about slavery. Notice the choice of the Hebrew word to describe the way God deals with this form of idolatry. God sells His children into bondage. The Hebrew verb is makar. It’s the basic verb of all transactional exchanges. It’s used for the selling of a birthright (Esau in Genesis 25:31), of land (Genesis 47:20), of livestock (Exodus 21:35) and of people (Genesis 31:15). The historians use this verb to describe selling oneself to evil intents (1 Kings 21:20). God’s character doesn’t change. If we decide not to follow His instructions, He allows us to choose our own poison. The pursuit of leverage in exchange will become the method that brings us down. Worship wealth, die in poverty. Serve self-reliance, be sold into slavery.
It’s hard to imagine that God could make the object lesson any clearer. For centuries, Israel repeated the pattern. We seem to want to do the same thing. Of course, our lack of historical perspective, especially the history of God’s interaction with men, is no excuse, but it does point to the stupidity of removing the biblical history from any form of reasonable education. It’s almost as though someone wants us to never understand. I wonder who that might be.
Israel finally did learn this lesson. It took the Babylonian captivity to make it sink in. Total devastation. Loss of everything held dear. Ruin of all the sacred places. Torment and tragedy so great that people ate their own children. It was not a pleasant experience. The scar it left on the consciousness of the people was so deep that they never turned to idolatry again. Doesn’t it make you wonder how deep the scar might have to be in order for us to abandon our fertility gods forever? If I were a prognosticator, I suppose I might be inclined to suggest that a culture that lives according to its money may just have to die according to its money. I think we call it poetic justice. God calls it something else – judgment. If He sold Israel in order for them to understand the true nature of commodities, what makes us think He won’t do that same again?
Thiruvalluvar, an Indian Tamil poet who lived before the time of the Messiah, said, “The only gift is giving to the poor; all else is exchange.” We must to listen to this wisdom or become commodities ourselves.
Topical Index: Worship