But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, the Lord again raised up a rescuer to save them. Judges 3:15
Their cry for deliverance was not a cry of repentance. They didn’t make things right. They didn’t confess their sin. They didn’t throw out their idols. They didn’t turn to God in faithful obedience. None of those things.
And yet, God delivered them still.
God’s mercy does not wait for us to get our act together.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8
Re:Verse passage – Judges 3:11-30 (day five) “But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.” I am indebted to commentator Michael Wilcock for help with understanding and explaining the Hebrew language. Verse 15 is not telling us that Ehud was a “lefty” per say. Instead, the language is telling us that he could not use his right hand. Deformed? Paralyzed? We don’t know. This language is telling us that most people (including Eglon) focused on his limitations. What we do know is that Ehud was faithful/trusting and used what he had been given to serve God. The “withered” right hand allows him access to an enemy leader. It also further demonstrates the power and purposes of God. The Israelites must trust God in using someone they themselves saw as limited and an unexpected hero. Sound familiar?
Isaiah 53- “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
1 Corinthians 1- “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”
The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. Were they content to be enslaved? Did the Israelites just resign themselves to be oppressed? At what point did they cry out to God for deliverance? Scripture does not tell us how long God took to raise up a deliverer for them. One point is certain though… God raised Ehud up for a specific task. Moab had been used of God to discipline Israel, but now God brought deliverance through His servant, Ehud.
Like Israel, we often get settled into our sin. We become content for a period of time in our punishment and consequences. Finally, we begin to recognize that being in relationship with God is much better than slavery to a culture of sin. When we cry out to God, He is faithful to hear and answer our prayer. When Ehud called the Israelites to battle, they responded. Their obedience led to victory and to eighty years of peace. This lesson is one that Israel faced over and over…never successfully for very long. Exactly the reason God had to send His Son to break the power of sin. The Messiah was the only way!
“They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men.”
There were some deliberative and judicial responsibilities attached to the position of judge, depending on the judge. Each judge was remembered, however, not so much for the cases he or she decided, but for the moments they opened up for Israel – opportunities to live out from under the oppressive grip of other geopolitical entities. Judges did not solve all the problems; rather they cleared a space for Israel to act, both in war and in spiritual pursuit. Ehud killed Eglon, but there remained a formidable force of “robust and valiant men” yet to see defeat. Would Israel rise to this opportunity? In this ancient time, war provided the proving ground for spiritual and national focus. The church will have opportunities no less than Israel. What are they?
Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. vs. 12
Let’s be clear: God’s ways are not our ways. In his infinite wisdom, he allowed an enemy of Israel to gain strength in order to subdue them because of their sin. It is not a wise idea for us to try and draw a straight line between suffering and sin. But we should be honest with ourselves enough to realize that our neglect of God has consequences, and sometimes that means he allows us to stumble. The path forward is always the same, however. Repent. Recognize your departure from where you were intended to be, and he is faithful to restore. Don’t get to the point where you have to wonder if your struggle is because of sin. Stay centered on Jesus.
Working with students, I often hear questions floated around regarding the conquest of Canaan and the time of Judges. One of these I hear is, “Why would a good God command the conquest and eradication of people groups?!”
Also by working with students, I know clearly why God commanded this; we become like those who we spend the most time with. By not driving out the inhabitants of Canaan in the way that God had commanded, they settled down next to them, and instead of leading these people closer to the Lord, they settled in their convictions. They became just like the world around them.
The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites;and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. Judges 3:5-6
We have the tendency to fall into the same traps. We compromise our convictions in sake of the argument, “this will help me relate.” We have to walk a very fine line of being in the world but not of the world. John 15:19.
Judges is the preamble to 1 Samuel. It is there that God tells the last judge, Samuel, that the people hadn’t rejected him in their demand for a king, but God himself.
That’s it central message after all: the people rejected God as their king over and over again. Every test was another opportunity to declare God as king. Every test was another act of mercy. And they failed.
But God didn’t.
Each time they would fall deeper, his mercy would reach deeper still.
“All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals…”
Words of warning and words of sobering truth. Words of challenge and caution (for those that have an ear to hear). FBCSA has two significant and potentially life-changing opportunities for the next generation in our church- Youth Camp and Vacation Bible School. The Lord will entrust our church with the task of evangelism and discipleship to teenagers and children. Will WE be faithful to serve, lead, share, minister, and love the next generation? “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?”
We have been given at least these two chances. Let’s pray!Let’s volunteer! Let’s be faithful to the Lord and to the next generation!
“One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalms 145:4
Moses led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. In the process, he delivered the Word (Law) of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 27:9, Moses told the Israelites, “this day you have become a people of the Lord your God.” With this pronouncement, came responsibilities. Standing before Mt. Gerazim and Mt. Ebal, Moses warned what would happen if Israel followed other gods. Now…in one lifetime (Joshua’s)…they failed to heed the warning. God had told them what would happen and now they found out He meant it. Everything that God warned would happen…did!
In our Re:Verse this week, in verse 15, it says everywhere they went, God was against them…”as the Lord has spoken.” What was true in Israel is true today. If we read the news today, it is as if we are in the time of the judges. Everywhere we go, it seems God is against us. We…as a nation…as a world…have followed after other gods. Look to our own hearts…are we receiving the rewards of obedience or disobedience? Question: What is this thing called repentance?