that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery.Judges 6:8(NASB)
From the moment they entered the land of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites engaged in a downward spiral of events, under the leadership of a succession of judges, which finally resulted in a situation, where everyone rejected the sovereign authority of God, and did only that which was right in their own eyes.
Time and again the rebellious sins of Israel caused the Lord to punish them, by bringing them into grievous servitude, under the surrounding nations - until they finally cried out in desperation to the Lord their God, and repented of their sins. God in His grace heard their cries and raised-up a series of judges, who would rescue them from the oppressive rule, until the next cycle of sin, servitude, supplication and salvation occurred - through the appointments of a new judge.
They were rescued from the Arameans by Orthneil. And Ehud - a very fat man, rescue them from the Moabites. Shamber and Deborah were the two judges who saved them from the Philistines and the Canaanites, but after forty years of comparative quietude, they were once again, brutally suppressed by the Midianites, for seven long years - due to their sin.
The nomadic, Midianite people caused Israel severe distress. With predictable timing, they would hide themselves, behind the rocks and caves surrounding the Israelite's villages. They would emerge, in great numbers, at harvest time, to steal their recently harvested crops, and livestock - leaving the Israelites bereft of their food, and without sufficient sustenance for the following year. The devastation caused by these predatory attacks, was compared with a swarm of locusts. Using camels as transport, the Midianites were able to cover vast distances speedily, and posed a very serious military and economic threat to the people of God.
Finally, in the midst of their trouble, they cried out, in desperation, to the Lord for help - and although their pitiful cries, did not appear to come from repentant hearts this time, the Lord, in His mercy, sent an unnamed prophet, to remind the sons of Israel that HE, and He ALONE was their one and only Saviour. The LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, who said to them, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'It was I who brought you up from Egypt. It was I Who brought you out from the house of slavery.'
The Lord had to remind His people that HE is the only One Who would rescue them from the hand of their enemies, saying: it was I, Who delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians. I saved You from the hands of all your oppressors. I dispossessed them before you and I gave you their land. I was the One that said to you, 'I am the LORD your God, and I have instructed you not to fear the gods of the people, in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.
Israel may have cried out to the Lord for help - but they had to be reminded, by one of God's prophets, about their continuing idolatry, disobedience, sinfulness and lack of real repentance. However, the Christian Church can learn many lessons from this dark period of Israel's history, and the many cycles of warnings they received, during the time of the Judges - when everyone entertained their own liberal views and believed in relativity - for this was a time when everyone did what was right in THEIR own eyes, rather than seeking that which was right in the eyes of GOD.
Both Moses and Joshua warned God's people that they were to love the Lord with all their heart, and to meditate on His word day and night. They were not to compromise their faith or follow after the ways of the world, and were instructed not to make alliances with the surrounding nations, who would draw them away into worldly ways.
However, they ignored the warnings and compromised the truth, which would entrap and ensnare them.. so that their enemies would become like whips on their back, and thorns that blinded their eyes. Sadly, the cycle of sin, servitude, supplication and salvation would continue.. until they disappeared from the good land, which the Lord their God had given them.
We are given similar warnings not to compromise our faith with unbelieving nations, of those that have an alternative religion or preach a watered-down gospel, with a compromised 'truth'. We are instructed to proclaim biblical truth. If, like Israel, we walk hand in hand with the world system and co-exist with them.. if we compromise the good news of the gospel of grace and cooperate with their ungodly ways.. if we choose to embrace their unbiblical philosophies, the Church will become increasingly corrupted and the gospel increasingly compromised - both individually and corporately.
May we study to show ourselves approved unto God and not compromise our faith in any way - but stand firm to the end. May we never forget that we are in the world but not of the word, for our citizenship is in heaven and joint heirs with Jesus Christ our God and Saviour.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many lessons that we can learn from the dark period of Israel's history, when Judges ruled and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. I pray that I may stand firm on the Word of truth and live in a way that honours Your name - as I proclaim the glorious and unchangeable gospel of grace, to a world, that is in need of Christ's saving work on the cross, for the forgiveness of sins. This I ask in Jesus name AMEN.
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