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Are you at Bochim?

One word dominated the early days of the Trump administration in the USA. The word is “compromised”. The allegations have been that the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russians which, if true, means that President Trump, may in some way have been compromised prior to taking power earlier this year. Those who have opposed the American President continue to say he is not fit to be president because of what they see as close dealings with the Russians .

We will never know the truth, but the story is a reminder that faithfulness and integrity is important in every walk of life. Yet, we know that all humans beings are tempted to compromise. We are tempted to bend the rules or tolerate sin for personal advantage. This is the compromise that the Bible often speaks. The accommodation of something that we know is wrong! We see this in the life of Israel in Judges as they settled in the promised land after the death of Joshua. Even from the onset of taking possession of the land, their half-hearted obedience to God has marred their victories:
Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” As soon as the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the Lord. (JUDGES 2:1-5)
Here we see God has had enough of Israel’s compromise and now summons them for a meeting at Bochim. The angel of the Lord is the representative of the God of Israel. This messenger appeared regularly in the Old Testament (e.g. he appeared to Abraham before the fall of Jericho). The appearance is called a theophany. It is God providing himself to the people in human form. We might even say it is a non-physical appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus. 

Why has God appeared? To explain the cost of their compromise. He starts by reminding them of their agreement together. God is faithful. He never breaks his word. He has delivered what he promised but the Israel has broken their word. They have compromised by making illegal dirty deals with the Canaanites at Bethel and onwards. They have also not removed the idolatry throughout the land. 

They have rebelled against God and joined ranks with Satan to stop God’s agenda in the land of Canaan. God’s people have now become part of the world. God is sorry for them. He is saying, “do you realise what you have done?” We see this tension in God’s heart that is found throughout the Bible. God swore never to break his covenant. Therefor, as a just God he must now punish them. But He also loves His people deeply so he does not want to see them destroyed. 

This is the tension at the heart of the biblical drama  that Jesus comes to resolve centuries later on the cross. That is for the future, for now the only choice is punishment. Israel’s costly compromise means that in the future they will live under the terror of the Canaanites! God is saying, if you want to be sinners, I will leave you alone and allow sin to play out to its conclusion. 

Sin is always its own punishment. As followers of Jesus we can never lose our salvation. But when you compromise you risk losing intimate fellowship with Jesus that keeps you steady in times of trouble. God will not compete with sin. When compromise and sin are present, He can choose to withhold His guidance and friendship until you confess your wrongdoing. Lot compromised and ended up in Sodom. Abraham compromised and almost lost his wife. David compromised with Bathsheba and lost a son.

Compromise is costly. So, how should we respond? We must repent genuinely. Our repentance not be like what the people of Israel do here. Their response seems on the surface to be repentance – they are crying, they even memorialise by naming the place “Bochim”. And above all they offer sacrifices to God! But notice what we don’t read. We never read that they go home and destroy their idols and remove all the idolaters from the land. They don’t even ask God for help!

They have cried genuinely, but it is crocodile tears. It is tears for fearing what God will do next. They are doing this to pacify God. There has been no deep lasting change in their hearts. It is all religion rather than faith. God demands genuine repentance – a radical change in direction. Turning aside from walking in one direction and running in the opposite direction. It is throwing off any compromise and turning them over to God and living a life of total obedience.

As followers of Jesus we have a reason to repent genuinely because God has come and laid down His life through Jesus. We live on this side of Calvary. All children of God have been saved from sin and therefore must now live free from sin! So let us turn away from any compromise and live totally for Jesus. Let us not remain at Bocchim with the crocodile tears but turn away from our sins in total repentance. 

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2017

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