And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, that knew not about God, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.
Second, once sin and the wrong ways have been established, God, removes his protection from the people of Israel, letting them experience the hardship of the world without His protection. For instance, in Judges 2:14
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He gave them over into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
Only then, in times of pain and suffering, the people rediscover God and the covenant they made with Him. They repent. And God, eternally patient, true to His word, remains loyal to the covenant, forever, as we can see in the Book of Judges 2:1
And he said: ‘… I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I swore unto your fathers; and I said: I will never break My covenant with you;
Finally, God chooses a seemingly ordinary person and raises him to become a JUDGE, a temporary leader to fight the enemy and save Israel.
For a single generation the people of Israel manage to remember the grace of God and follow His ways. But it never lasts more than one generation. The next generation, raised in times of peace and prosperity, forgets God again. Once more, they need to go through pain and suffering to remember.
This cycle lasts in the book for twelve judges and for over 300 years (~1350-1014 BC), all the way until the first king, King Saul. In this series of blog posts, I will cover the story of the fifth judge, Gideon. (~1191-1151 BC.) which starts Judges 6:5.
Final note about the Book of Judges
Just by looking at the general pattern in the book of Judges, we can learn so much about the people of Israel, who forget the ways of God so often. We learn about God and his eternal patience, and we learn about the relationship between God and the people of Israel, and how despite the infinite number of times that the people of Israel have disappointed God and left His way, God is committed to this relationship forever.
We also learn why suffering is necessary.
We have short memory, and most of us can learn only from our personal experience and never from the experience of others. When we live in a good time, we attribute it to ourselves, our power, and our talent. We become conceited, arrogant. We feel that we are the masters of the world. God has no place in our hearts and takes no part in our decisions. It is only at time of hardship and suffering that we realise we are not in control. Only then can we clearly see that each moment of our lives is a precious gift given to us. It is not created by us.
This is what Judges is repeating over and again, so we can learn from the experience of others and not have to go through suffering ourselves. Just like the story of Abraham negotiating with God, the Book of Judges is a guidebook that teaches us and gives us an opportunity to learn from the experience of others. Yet, we always fail to follow.
Subscribe to our blog and get new content delivered directly to your inbox.
In verse 16 we saw Lot’s pain and his hesitation before he left his home forever. The angels could see it, too, and with compassion took Lot, his wife, and the two daughters by the hand and led them outside the city. In verse 17 the angels tell them the last instruction how to stay alive – don’t look back.
Looking back – two schools of thought
It is important that we get familiar with the two opposing schools of thought about the relationship between us, human, and the word of God. In our verse this question arise when the angel tells Lot and his family not to look back.
Why is it important?
Because each school of thought leads to a different explanation for the death of Lot’s wife. Each way of thinking also paints a different image of God.
The first school of thought believes that Lot’s wife felt compelled to look back because she could not let go of her past. She did not trust God enough to follow His words. According to this interpretation, God creates a path for us, and our duty is to follow this path, while our devotion is constantly being tested. Not to look back was another test for Lot and his family.
You may ask, why they are being tested? After all, didn’t Lot bring the angels in, despite the risk to himself and his family? Wasn’t he protecting them from the crowd outside? Weren’t these tests enough?
But we also have to remember that years of living in Sodom could have corrupted Lot and his family in many subtle ways. After all, living with other people changes our ways and biases our judgment. Suddenly, things that until not long ago used to be unacceptable, creep into our lives to become part of us. God needed to ensure that Lot and his family deserved saving. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife looking back proved that she did not trust God enough, and therefore her punishment was rightly deserved.
When I read this text with this interpretation in mind, I can’t help but think of a completely different story. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice from the Greek mythology. If you are not familiar with the story, here is a brief summary:
Like Lot, who was the only righteous person in Sodom, Orpheus had a special talent. He was the most gifted of all musicians. The Gods themselves could not have enough of his music. So when his beloved wife, Eurydice, died, using his music he convinced Hades, the God of the underworld, to let him take Eurydice back to the world of the living. But like in Lot’s case, there was a condition. Orpheus had to walk before Eurydice, without looking back at her, the wife he had been missing for so long, until they came out of the underworld.
The place was silent. Being the first human to ever walk up along this corridor, Orpheus could not hear Eurydice’s steps behind. He could not be sure she was there, and he started doubting Hades’ promise. He decided to have a quick look back to make sure that indeed she was stepping behind him.
She had been.
But to his and her great dismay as he looked back, demon appeared and started pulling her back toward the underworld. His lack of trust killed his wife for the second time.
The similarity between this interpretation of Lot’s story and the story of Orpheus cannot be ignored. In both cases a person with special talent was rewarded by God, under the condition of total obedience. In both cases the smallest of disobedience put the person back with the with the rest of humanity: Lot’s wife to die with the people of Sodom, and Orpheus with every other human, who cannot reunite in their lifetime with those they have lost.
While the above way of thinking is prevalent, it is not the only one. The second school of thought sees the events in exactly the opposite light. According to this way of thinking, God is not punishing people, but rather trying to save them. His words are warning, not threats. He warns us from risks along our path, the risks that we are facing and those we will be facing. But other than warnings, God does not interfere with our decisions. He makes sure we know, but He lets us make our own choices. And when we do not follow, we do not suffer punishment, but the natural consequences of our own doing.
I do not know what was in the fire that destroyed Sodom. But God knew that looking into it will result in death. Lot’s wife made her choice, and like all of us who ignore warnings, she suffered the consequence. She was not punished.
Which of the two interpretations do you believe is the right one for Lot’s story? Was God giving a command that had to be followed, or was it a warning by God, who other than forcing us, does all He can do to save us? Which is the God you believe in?
The story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 has always bothered me. It is not because Adam and Eve sinned; it is not because a snake could talk; it is not even because of the severe, out of proportion, punishment humanity has, allegedly, suffered as a result. It mostly disturbed me because the story I heard over and again, often from proud believers, diminished God and made him either cruel or incompetent – neither I could accept.
The fire of hell is about to hit the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. An entire land is to be wiped out. Whenever I read this part of the Bible, I cannot stop sadness from gnawing inside me. Sadness not only for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are to be incinerated. For me deep sadness also raises its head when I realise how rare compassion is among those who read this passage together with me.
So many of the discussions about the passage are about things like the exact nature of the sin of the people of the Sodom; how little of it is thinking about Lot and how he must have felt when he had to evacuate and leave everything behind. Wasn’t he a man? A human?
If we, the Bible followers, fail to feel compassion when reading about a tragedy at the comfort of our own homes, will we fell compassion towards others when we ourselves are facing hardship? Can we even feel it at all? Moreover, is compassion a luxury when a mass tragedy takes place? Verse 16 comes to teach us that our compassion is never a luxury, it must always have place in our hearts.
Welcome to a new short video of ☯️📜 The Zen of the Hebrew Bible 📜☯️
Paradoxes in the Bible – Multiply and Fill the Earth
Multiply and Fill the Earth
This video is about Bible paradoxes and making babies. We will look at the very first commandment in Genesis “Make children and fill the earth” and discuss what it can mean, and why it is a paradox.
It is also about how habits can stop your spiritual growth. For example, whenever you see Jesus on the cross, do you mindlessly repeat some ceremony like a prayer or making the cross sign, or do you stop to think what Jesus did for us? Do you feel compassion for him, for what he had to suffer in his last days on earth?
Too often we forget that the Bible tells us stories about real people, people who had emotions, fears, people who suffered great pains. Can we learn to practice compassion when we read these stories?
🔍 Join me and our numerous followers at the ☯️📜 The Zen of the Hebrew Bible 📜☯️ to look critically at the details hidden in the Bible stories we thought we were familiar with. Let’s discover together the less known aspects and a spiritual way of reading the Bible.
Watch the video “Paradoxes in the Bible” on Youtube:
✅ SUBSCRIBE TO SUPPORT FREE HEBREW BIBLE LESSONS ON THE INTERNET
🔔 Don’t forget to click on the bell to turn on post notifications!
DAY 12 – COVID, VACCINE AND THE BIBLE 🌞 50 DAYS OF GENESIS 🌞 VIDEO EPISODES
WELCOME TO DAY 12 OF THE
🌞 50 DAYS OF GENESIS 🌞 JOURNEY!
Today we will discuss Genesis 12:1+2
COVID, VACCINE AND THE BIBLE
Can we expect God to help and protect us in every situation just because we have full faith in Him? Do we believe that He will protects you from COVID? That you do not need a vaccine? This is not how faith works, so let’s see what does the Bible has to say about it. In this episode we will explore how Abraham behaved in a similar situation, after he had reached the promised land, the land of Canaan.
DAY 10 – LANGUAGES 🌞 50 DAYS OF GENESIS 🌞 VIDEO EPISODES
WELCOME TO DAY 10 OF THE
🌞 50 DAYS OF GENESIS 🌞 JOURNEY!
Today we will discuss Genesis 10:5+31
We know that God confused the languages while the people of Babylon were building their tower. But today we will discover the paradox that different languages were already mentioned in previous chapters of the Genesis.