Let me illustrate what we were talking about in the last post. The children of Israel according to the commission given them in the first chapter of Joshua were called upon to be strong and courageous. They were not to be dismayed or frightened by the task of conquering the land promised to them. The reason they could undertake such an endeavor with confidence was because God promised that He would never forsake them or fail them.
However, in spite of God’s promises the people wavered in their faith and loyalty to Him. They found compromise and indecision to be more acceptable and much easier than conquest.
1 “After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Who of us is to go up first to fight against the Canaanites?”
2 The Lord answered, “Judah shall go up; I have given the land into their hands.”
3 The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, “Come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites. We in turn will go with you into yours.” So the Simeonites went with them.
4 When Judah attacked, the Lord gave the Canaanites and Perizzites into their hands, and they struck down ten thousand men at Bezek.” Judges 1:1-4
In these opening four verses of the book of Judges (Deliverers) we are given a glimpse into the lack of faith of God’s people. With Joshua’s death the people call out who is now going to lead us to fight against the Canaanites? The answer should have been, “why are there still Canaanites in the land when you were told to drive them out?” That being what it may God answered His people’s request for a physical leader by calling upon the tribe of Judah to take the lead.
Now how this was to work was quite simple. Judah was to obey all that God revealed to them and follow His orders and He would give the victories over the Canaanites. But notice verse three; “The men of Judah then said to the Simeonites their fellow Israelites, ‘come up with us into the territory allotted to us, to fight against the Canaanites.’”
Instead of trusting God to work through them and for them the sons of Judah turned to their brothers for help. Instead of depending and trusting in the spiritual direction of God to give victory they turned to their fellow man for help.
Back in the Garden of Eden Satan had whispered into Eve’s heart that she really couldn’t trust God and that He didn’t have her best interest at heart. He was really laying the groundwork for all attacks upon God from that day forward with the idea that God could not be trusted to keep His promises or deliver His people.
Now Judah fell into the same trap as Eve and believed that they could not accomplish such a feat without human aide from the tribe of Simeon. And, this is the problem that we often face in our day-to-day living out the Christian life. God speaks to our heart and we hear His voice and understand His promptings, but end up putting our trust in human solutions instead of God’s directives.
The last verse of Judges gives us a great insight into the major theme of the book. “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 The people simply wouldn’t allow God to reign in their lives and be their King. Instead they turned to their own thinking and ideas to solve their problems and over and over that turned to disaster.
Now in verse four comes one of the most important verses in the book of Judges as far as I’m concerned. In spite of Judah’s not listening to God and allowing God to use them alone for the victory, and in spite of inviting Simeon to join them in battle, God still gave them victory.
There is something powerful and wonderful about this verse that we should all take to heart. In spite of our failures and lack of trust, God still fights for us and He still gives us victories over adversity. Think about the marvel of this concept. I think what God reveals to us through these victories is simply that His love for us is far superior to our love for Him, and He still gives us great gifts even though we don’t deserve them or appreciate them.
The story of the people in the book of Judges is the story of apostasy, rejection of God, disaster, then calling out to God in their time of need, and God answering and delivering them. Then the cycle starts all over again. That is the way it is for many people even to this day. We go our merry way not paying much attention to God until a major problem comes into our life then we cry out to Him promising to change our ways and follow all His directions if “only” He will deliver us this one time.
God answers and we accredit it instead to how good the doctors were or a fortunate change in circumstances. Suddenly, the deliverance God bestows upon us is reduced to the idea that we wiggled out of the problem either by man’s help or good luck. We soon forget our pledge to God and go back to the old ways of living and doing, “what is right in our own eyes.” Next crises we rush to God again and once again we are helped and once again we credit that deliverance to other causes and so goes the cycle.
What is amazing about all this is the simple fact God continues to help us in spite of our indifference and refusal to acknowledge Him as King of our lives. He does what He does for us because He loves us and not because we have some power over Him. God loves us unconditionally and gives us victories in our lives regardless of the hardness of our hearts. He bestows love on us because that is who He is. God is love.
The children of Israel suffered much and endured suffering throughout the book of Judges because they always ran back to their false gods despite the numerous times God delivered them. This is the way of the world. God’s way is to hold us tight, comfort us and give us victory in spite of ourselves. Yes, God is love; unconditional love.
* All’s quiet in the front…really? Just because it’s hardly reported in the news these days doesn’t mean it’s not happening anymore. Many people around the globe are STILL 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