Sometimes in life we feel overwhelmed believing that nothing we can do or no one else’s intervention is able to alter the situation. Then we read words like these in Judges, “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them.” (2:16)
We have seen, from earlier posts, that judges should be translated deliverers. There is a great deal going on in this text to give us comfort and encouragement. Jesus of course is the great deliverer who saves us out of the power of Satan, death, and sin. In Judges 2:16 the text reads that the judges “saved them out of the power of those who plundered them,” and I think that is significant.
It is easy to believe that we are powerless in certain situations that we find ourselves in, and we become discouraged believing that we can never break away from under the “power of those who plundered,” us.
That power may be an addiction, or someone who domineers in our life, or a terrible situation at work or in our personal relationships. It really doesn’t matter what it is or how we found ourselves in the situation. What is important is that God has provided a deliverer to save us from the power and forces that oppress us.
I love the encouragement of the following verse, but there is also a warning in it, “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.” Judges 2:18
Notice it is God who raised up the deliverers (judges) not the people. And further, notice that God was with the deliverer and that deliverer saved them from their enemies. We need to remember that God is with us in our afflictions and problems and He has sent the ultimate deliverer in the person of His Son Jesus to save us. Now look at the last part of Judges 2:18, “the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.”
That is not the picture of God who is distant and uncaring. We see God up close and personal in Judges 2:18 and it is a wonderful insight into the compassion He has for us. God hears our cries and our groaning under the affliction called sin and He rushes to our aid.
Now here is the catch, we often think that God needs to lift the immediate affliction off our shoulders, but what God offers goes much further than our immediate needs. He, through Jesus sacrifice for our rebellion and sin, is offering us something much bigger and wonderful than our immediate relief from an infliction.
This is not a cop-out or saying God is not interested in what is going on in your personal life, because He is very interested. I am simply saying that God is looking at the picture of our eternal salvation while we are looking at the immediate.
Now, I believe that God does help us in the immediate when we cry out to Him for help. I could recite story after story of how God has intervened to lift burdens off the shoulders of people who were being crushed by the weight of the problems. And just like the children of Israel, when invaders oppressed them and took their freedom, we also need to pray and put our trust in God who delivers.
However, God’s major intervention is to save us for all eternity and in order to do that, Jesus had to experience the ultimate suffering and affliction. Unfathomable pain, affliction, anguish, separation, and the crushing weight of carrying the sins of the world greeted Jesus at Calvary’s cross. And it was all done that you and I who suffer under oppressors could be spiritually free regardless of the physical situation we find ourselves facing.
I’ve been reading and posting about the affliction that many Christians face in numerous countries. They are put in prison, tortured, have their goods and livelihoods taken from them, and sometimes even raped and murdered. Yet, when you read the stories of some of these people it is almost beyond belief that they still have such faith and trust in God. They simply see the big picture. They see that this life is fleeting and we are here and gone but eternity in the presence of God is a precious gift that can never be snatched away from us.
Our trust in the saving, gracious gift of redemption is not based on what goes on in our life and no one else controls it. Salvation is a relationship between God and us and is outside the power of others to intervene or try and stop. Yes, there are some situations where family or work situations have a great deal of control over our ability to feel free, but in the realm of the spiritual they have no control.
In countries like North Korea they can put Christians in prison and enslave them to hard labor but they cannot take away their faith, because it is not tangible—it is spiritual.
Next post I want to continue in this section of Judges because unfortunately there is a dark side to Israel’s deliverance that Christians can fall into as well. We can, however, learn lessons from Israel’s failures and mistakes and by God’s grace avoid them in our own lives.
* Many people around the globe are experiencing persecution for their faith in God, and many even unto death. They need our support and continuous prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet but you have to search for it