Are we as bad as ancient Israel?

There are three ways we can read the history of Israel in the Old Testament. We can read with disinterest, arrogance or humility. Only one of these is acceptable to God.

We read with disinterest because we don’t care about what happened to them. Moreover, we likely don’t see any real value in the Old Testament. In doing so, we set ourselves at odds with God.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4, NKJV).

Arrogance means that we read the Israelite saga and smugly say that Israel got what they deserved. We’re like the foolish scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day (Matthew 23:29-31).

The only healthy option is to read the Old Testament with great humility and fear. We must realize that God gave us the story of his people for a good reason, and we must trust him completely (Hebrews 11:6).

We must read the Old Testament and look for ourselves because people never change (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Every trait of mankind can be found in the pages of the Bible, and each of them is weighed by God.

As we study the story of Israel, we cannot miss their lessons.

In Ezekiel 14-16, Israel is told that they will be taken into captivity regardless of what they do. Their sins were so atrocious that God’s patience was exhausted. They had taken idols as their fathers, and they must suffer the consequences (Ezekiel 16:3).

Reading with humility, we see that Israel didn’t reach this point in one moment. Incrementally, God’s people made poor spiritual decisions and became enamored with the world around them. Their apostasy was not a single leap, but a lengthy series of stumbles.

We leave God one decision at a time and before long, we’ve closed the door forever (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31). Each simple, seemingly harmless decision turns the prow of the ship and soon we are in dangerous waters.

While we have security as long as we’re living for Christ (Romans 8:1), we can choose to take another path (Hebrews 2:1).

We must be consciously righteous, or we will be unconsciously unrighteous. We must remain alert to the dangers around us. We cannot live the Christian life on auto-pilot because Satan is always a threat (1 Peter 5:8).

Be awake and alert. We don’t know if we’re better than Israel and whether severe judgment is around the corner. Only God knows, and we must follow him completely.

5 thoughts on “Are we as bad as ancient Israel?

    1. Thank you! I’m listening to the Minor Prophets right now, where His anger is readily apparent. Humility is SO important!

  1. I have been reading in the Old Testament this past year and I have learned so much — arrogance was one fault of Israel and I also find that oppressing others was a great big, big fault. I see a lot of similar faults today but God only knows our true status and we will be judged for our behavior – individually and probably as a nation on earth. I believe my study has brought me closer to wanting to serve and be obedient to God and recognizing his great worth and my own lack of worth.

  2. Excellent article Richard. I remember as a teenager reading about the forty years of wandering in the wilderness and thinking that had I been there I probably would have been Joshua or Caleb. As I grew older I came to understand that it was more likely that I would have fallen in the wilderness and not made it into Canaan.
    I often stress in our adult Bible class as we study the Old Testament that we are not really different than the nation of Israel. We have the same temptations, failings, and sin as they had. We also serve the same God who strengthens and guides us, and has promised to never fail us. God has done his part in saving us and we must do our part (remaining faithful) in order to be saved.
    I really like your point “We must be consciously righteous, or we will be unconsciously unrighteous.” Very good!

  3. I look at it like this. Israel can be taken into the context of one person. I know for years and years I’d want to stop sinning because I consciously knew it was bad. I was condemned everyday for years, and God would bring me out, and soon I forget his face and go back so I was delivered back to the enemy(sin) repeatedly, then he did something knew in me and I consciously began to fight. Fight what it was the devil wanted me to be convinced I was trapped in.

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