God desires all of you.
When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus answered with a prayer first recited by Israel in Deuteronomy: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
It’s not casual, flippant acknowledgement. It’s full-throated, heart-captivated affection.
This was what God desired of Judah at the time of Judges. He wanted their full devotion and obedience. And at the beginning of chapter 1, we see Judah moving through the land victoriously, following God’s plan for them.
But then we have a turning point in verse 19.
And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron. (Judges 1:19)
The Israelites had been moving faithfully through the hills, where the Canaanites’ formidable iron chariots could not go. But then – on foot, with earthly weapons seemingly inferior to the terrifying chariots they faced – they relented. Whether out of fear, exhaustion, or unwillingness, once they reached the plain, things changed.
And just as is true for us, as soon as they failed to remember God’s faithfulness and chose to rely on practical survival tactics instead of His ability to turn these tactics on their head, they began to make concessions in other areas too. Before they knew it, they were worshiping other gods and going their own way. And things got ugly.
After all, this is the same God who dropped the walls of Jericho by having His people walk around them. This is the same God who would drop Goliath with a stone from a young boy’s sling. This is the same God would offer salvation to humanity by sending Jesus to a Roman cross.
His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
But so often, we forget that His ways are superior to our ways and His thoughts infinitely better than our thoughts. Instead of asking, “Ok, Lord, iron chariots are coming, and we’re on foot. What do we do?” we cave. We try to keep one foot in the ways of the world. We try to have our cake and eat it too.
What is your iron chariot? What scares or exhausts you to the point of disobedience? What are you unwilling to give up?
In Romans 12:1, we’re called to offer ourselves as, “living sacrifice(s)” to our God. There’s a key phrase just before the call, though: “In view of God’s mercy…”
As we study Judges together, and as we consider where are our hearts are in regard to obedience and worship, we do so, “in view of God’s mercy.” His kindness leads us to repentance.
As God reveals our sin, our idols, and yes, our iron chariots, may we be so captivated by His relentless pursuit of us on the cross and beyond that we offer every part of ourselves to Him wholly and willingly, loving Him with everything we have because He has loved us so extravagantly.