Judges 10:10-14 describes an exchange I can only describe as snarky. As is typical after the death of a righteous judge, in Judges 10, the Israelites once again abandon God and begin serving the false gods of the nations around them. As is also typical, God withdraws His protection and delivers His rebellious people into the hands of their enemies. Only then do they wise up, realize that they should have been serving God all along, and cry out to Him for help.
However, in vs. 13-14, God has this to say in reply: “Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.”
God’s point here is plain. If you liked those false gods so much when things were going well, why don’t you cry out to them when things aren’t going well? The answer, of course, is that false gods offer a lot more in the way of fleshly pleasure, but because they’re false, they offer no security in a time of trouble. The Israelites get the message and continue crying out to God, who eventually relents and raises up Jephthah to deliver them.
Today, we aren’t troubled by the Ammonites and the Philistines, nor are we much allured by the worship of Ashtaroth and the Baals. However, we can still encounter plenty of difficulties in life, and the people around us still follow all sorts of false gods: money, material possessions, sexual fulfillment, intoxication, social standing, and a host of others. Any sin can become our god if we pursue it with enough zeal, and this can still be true for us even if we show up faithfully for every worship service.
These gods, though they never satisfy us, can certainly offer us a great deal of pleasure when times are good. However, when times are bad, will they save us? If we love money so much that we neglect our children for our work, all that money won’t comfort us when they reject us in adulthood. If we’re materialistic and we lose our jobs, then all those big houses and fancy cars that we took on debt to buy will become millstones around our necks. Sexual abandon offers scant comfort in old age. Addiction to alcohol and drugs makes any problem worse, not better. If we lose wealth and position, the same people who flocked around us when we had them will be nowhere to be found.
The false gods of this age have no power to protect us, any more than did the false gods of the time of the judges. Furthermore, if those are the idols we choose to worship, we can be sure that God will allow us to find out their uselessness for ourselves. God is faithful. If we hold fast to Him, He always will hold fast to us. If we turn aside to other masters, we can be certain only that they will fail us.