Who doesn’t like a good hero story? I love the MCU (The Marvel Cinematic Universe) and all the crazy and creative plot lines. In many ways, the Judges that God raised up to deliver Israel from their oppressors were Israel’s version of the Avengers. And like some of the hero’s in MCU, many of the Judges lacked a moral compass – they were adrift, unpredictable in character and ungrounded in conviction. They were given to expediency and selfish gain.
That reminds us to never confuse being used by God with being approved by God.
Israel seemed to do OK as long their hero Joshua lived and his influence lasted. But as soon as Joshua and his fellow leaders died, Israel forgot to remember the works of God as told in the word of God – so they lost will to obey God. And then they became adrift, unpredictable in character and ungrounded in conviction.
That reminds us that we actually become like that which we worship (see Hosea 9:10).
When their hero died, they lost sight of God’s goodness, which was to trigger their response of worship, love and willing submission to Him and His plans (See Judges 2:6-7)
Israel’s hero-following pattern continued with each Judge:
“18 Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. 19But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways” (Judges 2).
Note, who saved Israel? Was it the Judge? No, God saved them.
Note, what motivated God? Anger? No. It was pity. His goodness, grace and compassion motivated God.
That reminds us: If you are a hero, the trick is to lead and point others to God. If you are a follower, the trick it to follow God, not the hero.
Israel had fallen into a trap that is still actively at work today: hero worship. So many of us tie into a particular leader, usually gifted in some fantastic and magnetic way. So, we end up following someone who is following Jesus (or so they say). But when we engage in hero worship, it’s easy to neglect our own spiritual journey, our own spiritual walk – and that always comes with consequences.
Paul had to instruct the church at Corinth not to hero worship but to focus on Christ who was crucified. He said,
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 1: 10-12).
Do you own your walk with God?
When the people of God forget to remember the works of God as told in the word of God, they lose their will to obey God – and are prone to hero worship.