“Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.”
A dangerous and all too common cycle is exposed in these verses. Some of the men of Israel were drawn into unhealthy relationships, which led to ungodly practices. Their sin led them out from under the blessings of God and into a place where they were chastened by the Lord. Unhealthy relationships are one of the chief causes of sin throughout Israel’s history. Whenever they were drawn to the nations around them, it was not long before they were involved in the practices of those nations. After years of this cycle repeating itself, Solomon wrote,
Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
There is another cycle that we also see repeated in Scripture and in life. When a person chooses to surround himself with those who are committed to, and living for, the Lord, he will find that he grow more quickly and serve more faithfully. Joshua found that to be true by spending time with Moses, David was bettered by his relationship with Jonathan, Timothy developed into a mighty man of God, through the time he spent with Paul.
The relationships we choose to invest in are the ones that will forge us into the person we become. While it is true that we live in the world, and God wants to use us to bring others to himself, it is also true that many Christians have slipped away from the Lord because of the worldly friendships they have chosen to keep. If you are involved in a relationship that is pulling you away from the Lord, perhaps it is time to establish some new relationships, with those who are committed to following after and serving Christ.
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
If you and I were to go on a walk, we would not have to agree about everything, but we would have to agree about where we were going. Once we disagreed about direction, we could no longer walk together. Amos is suggesting that Israel failed to walk with God because they were not in agreement with the direction God was taking them. This passage is written long after God had walked Israel through the wilderness and into the promised land, but I am reminded of what God told the people during their wilderness journey.
Exodus 19:4 “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.”
God made it clear, the destination which He was leading Israel, was not the land of Israel, but was to relationship with God. We are all on that same journey. Once we have received Christ, we begin a process called sanctification, where we are becoming like Christ. Every trial and blessing becomes a tool in God’s hand to accomplish this work in our lives. He wants to cut away the things that are ungodly from our lives and replace them with things that bring Him glory. However, the only way we will be successful is if we agree with God that we want to become like Him. Once that happens, we will allow Him to remove unnecessary things.
Are you willing? Have you sat before the Lord and truly asked Him to do whatever it takes to make you the person He wants you to be? If not, do that now. Take some time to confess what you are doing wrong and ask God to help you do what is right.
1 Samuel 29:4
“But the princes of the Philistines were angry with him; so the princes of the Philistines said to him, ‘Make this fellow return, that he may go back to the place which you have appointed for him, and do not let him go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become our adversary…'”
The Philistine lords gathered together to prepare an attack on Israel. Since David had been living among them, and was a tremendously talented soldier, King Achish included him and his men in the battle plans. When the remaining Philistine leaders saw David and his men, they immediately objected. David was an Israelite who had been responsible for defeating the Philistines in countless battles. These men knew that to include him in their campaign would prove to be a big mistake, as David would no doubt turn on them when the battle grew hot.
I find it interesting that these men were able to recognize what seems too allude so many Christians. The Bible clearly states, if we want to succeed in following Christ, we must surround ourselves with the right people.
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully,
For the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
Too many believers have begun to follow Christ, only to be tripped along the way by the company they choose to keep. While we are not to by isolationists like the Pharisees, who sought to remove themselves from any contact with the unbelieving world, we do need to recognize that the company we keep will determine the person we become. If you are single, don’t settle for someone who is not committed to Christ, just because you are lonely and they are nice. Make good relationship choices, beginning with, determining that you will be actively involved in your church, where you can be surrounded by others who want to follow Jesus, and will encourage you along the way.
“So Judah said to Simeon his brother, ‘Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.’ And Simeon went with him.”
When the land was distributed among the tribes, Simeon was given a portion within the land allotted to Judah. The reason being, Judah’s lot was too big for any one tribe. Since Judah and Simeon were going to share the land, they would have to learn to stand together in battle, to defeat their enemies.
As the events recorded in Judges unfold, we find that each of the tribes, while facing different enemies, have a common struggle; some things are persistent and difficult to remove. This is the same struggle the believer faces today. Immediately upon receiving Christ, there are a number of things that seem to flee from our lives, and that we may never struggle with again. There are however, other things which will require constant and continual battle. Like Potiphar’s wife who daily tempted Joseph, there are certain sins that require daily battle.
We might learn a lesson from Judah and Simeon who engaged in the battle together. There are, no doubt, some struggles we must endure alone. However, much of our Christian life would be easier if we joined with others in the journey. The Bible speaks of temptations that are common to all men. Since we are facing the same struggles, it would be wise to have a few trusted comrades we can lean on when things become difficult.
Over the years I have found through serving Christ, I have been able to team up with godly believers who have been a tremendous help to my walk with Christ.