His Encouragement #180

Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.

And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.” And the LORD said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. 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.” And the people of Israel said to the LORD, “We have sinned; do to us whatever seems good to you. Only please deliver us this day.” So, they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.

Judges 10:10-16 (ESV)

The book of Judges drives me nutty. I know, I know … who am I to judge? LOL! I admit that I’ve been obnoxious and self-centered and sinful, too. I’ve chosen me more times than I’ve chosen God. I’m sure I’ve made God scream out, “That’s it, I’m done!” But admitting that doesn’t change the fact that this book frustrates me to no end.

Here’s a summary of the book of Judges: A leader rises, gets Israel to behave sort of, then the leader dies. Israel throws God away and slaps Him in the face by chasing after the gods of the surrounding nations. They become pagan in spirit and in action. The gentile nation they’re chasing after enslaves and torments them for years. Then they cry out to God. God saves them and sets up a new leader. Israel sort of behaves for a moment. The leader dies and the process begins over and over and over again. It’s maddening.

In Judges 10, God appears to reach a boiling point.

He hears the Israelites cry out AGAIN. This time He is beyond mad — He is done. He reiterates ALL the many, many ways He has already saved these self-centered, unclean, common kiddos, and then He tells them He is done saving them, that they should cry out to the gods they love so much. There is a clear sense that the Israelites get that they have seriously crossed a line and they cry out for forgiveness. They admit they have sinned against God, and they put away their other gods. They say they will obey God now. And like the good, patient, merciful Father that He is, He saves His kiddos AGAIN.

Here’s what gets me about this section of Judges — God is AMAZING. This is irrefutable. He is forgiving and loving and merciful and steadfast and LONG suffering. If I come to Him with a genuine contrite heart, if I confess my sins, and if I make an authentic effort to change my ways, God will forgive me anything. BUT how terrifying is it that God could get to the point where He doesn’t want anything to do with me?! How terrifying is it that He could leave me in the sinful bed I create for myself?! This is something to ponder. I mean, He did allow the flood to wipe out all of the earth in Noah’s day. Who’s to say I couldn’t be wiped out, too?

Our times are crazy times. Part of why Judges is hard to read is because I can’t escape my world when I read it. The mentality of the ancient Israelis is the same as the entire world today. I feel like Judges 10 is a warning to us professing Christians. It’s no longer OK to just say we believe in God … we must act like it. We must set ourselves apart from the world. We must give up the gods we follow, admit our sins to God, ask for forgiveness, and walk the walk we talk about. There is coming a time when God will say, “Enough is enough.” That time is the tribulation period. The only way to escape that is to be near God. The only way to be near God is to be unlike this world. Please, dear reader, be unlike this world!



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