Throughout the Hebrew Bible, we see a never-ending circle of actions that fail to correct themselves but always face dire consequences. The repetition of God’s favor, to the people, leads to sin and they do what is displeasing to the Lord, to God’s decision to not protect Israel, the people confess the errors of their ways, to God ultimately forgiving their sins and restoring their favored position. The pattern that goes round and round is called the Deuteronomic theme. We see God’s ultimate judgment when he removes His special protection, and we see the fall of the Northern Kingdom (about 722 BCE), with the destruction of the Southern Kingdom (about 586 BCE).
How could the chosen people fail to see what was at stake? God showed the people time after time that there were consequences by not following the Torah, the law given to the nation of Israel through Moses directly from the Holy One. Their very survival depended on observing the covenant. In a nutshell, do what God asks, and you will thrive. Turn from Him, and chaos rules the day. Such a simple request is not rocket science.
Okay, I may easily get my self-righteous nose in the air and say, “At least I am not like ‘those’ people!” Really? I am afraid I have way too much in common with those sinners. There are times that I doubt the protection of God, and abandon the assurance of divine protection and step out of the light. In my only life, each phase of the cycle finishes with pleading for God’s mercy. I cry, “Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned. Let me come back into your presence.” Every time I realize my inefficiencies to be the perfect son, my Father welcomes me back into his favor. Praise the Lord!
I want to offer a little side note. I return back to God, not to get material things. A gospel of prosperity does not equal restoration of relationship. My measurement of faith does not depend on a new car. When we talk of God’s favor, it is a spiritual fulfillment that holds us tightly, safe from the full wrath of anyone’s harm. Holy love is not superficial like a magician, but caring and abides in the very depths of our souls. For God’s protection, I say, “Thanks be to the Creator, the Lord and giver of life. Amen.”