As I read Judges ch 10 this morning, this portion of scripture gave me an awesome view into the nature of people, and the character of God. Here are the verses:
Judges 10:11-16 (NKJV)
So the Lord said to the children of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”
And the children of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.
As the children of Israel have once again left God, and worshipped other false gods, God reminds the people of all He has done for them. How He has delivered them, set them free, and blessed the Israelites, but they have continually rejected God and gone after things that are not gods at all, but the creation of men’s hands(Deut 4:28) . He tells them to let those “gods” deliver and save them. Basically, God tells them you are getting what you asked for, and what they deserved.
What the Israleites do next is very wise. First, they confess and agree with God what is obvious. They have sinned. That is so important if there is to be any restoration with Israel here, or with any of our own lives. If we don’t come to God with an honest heart and confession, then we don’t allow God to work in our hearts. We can have no true repentance, without honest confession and a certain acountability for our sin. At this point, the people have been humbled, and their only hope is God’s deliverance. They have finally come to the point where they are no longer going to trust in their idols for any deliverance, but they pray and trust God for their deliverance knowing He is their only hope.
Yet, the Israelite’s confession and repentance are not just words, but action that follows closely behind thier words. They did two things: put away foreign gods, and served the Lord. They proved their words to be true with the action that followed after them. To be sure, God is never fooled by flowery words of confession and repentance that have no connection to the heart, but let us not deceive ourselves in our dealings with God. If we have come to the point of being acutely aware of a certain sin, let us come to God and lay out our sin with complete honesty, and confess our sin so that He could forgive us, wash us clean, and heal us. Then let us put the sin away, and walk with Jesus, sinning no more (John 8:11).
Finally, we see God’s character. Even though He had spoken tough words to His children, as a loving Father does He could no longer endure the misery of Israel after they cried out to Him, and after they turned from their wicked ways. We see that God is a merciful and loving God that wants to restore and receive those who will come to Him. I will leave you with a couple of my favorite verses that show the wonderful love and mercy of God.
And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say:
‘Return, backsliding Israel,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,’ says the Lord; ‘I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the Lord your God, And have scattered your charms To alien deities under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ says the Lord.
“Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
May God bless you, and grow you in His love and grace. -Cory