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Why did the Israelites keep turning away from God?

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. Judges 2:10-13

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land and tried to settle, they constantly, for a period of nearly 400 years, kept turning away from God and worshipping idols. Why is this?

They kept turning to their ancestors. Their hearts were still in Egypt and the mysterious gods their ancestors worshipped. That spirit which turned from God on Mount Sinai and constructed a golden calf still lived in the people hundreds of years later.

They forgot God’s word.  The book of the Law wrote about the stories of what God had done before for them. They failed to remind themselves daily of his previous power and why they were there.  Kings such as Josiah uncovered these unread scrolls and couldn't believe they were forgotten.

They followed the latest trends. They watched the worship ceremonies of the enemies living around them and found them intriguing and enticing. Maybe because those pagan ceremonies involved sex.

They got too busy. Their busy lives and the prosperous economy caused them to turn to their own needs and desires instead of to God’s commands and purposes for them.

They didn’t drive their enemies out of their land. By allowing the idol worshippers to live among them, they were asking for trouble. Better to get them out of sight so there is no temptation.  Some of this was because of laziness.  Some of it because they enjoyed the sin of their enemies.

Does this happen today? Before we shake our heads at the Israelites, let’s examine our own lives and ask ourselves, “are we doing the same things?”