“The Israelites cried out to the Lord…” Judges 3:9, 15, 4:3, 6:6 (HCSB)
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the LORD, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites?” Judges 1:1 (HCSB) What a wonderful way to launch a new era for the children of Israel! They inquired of the Lord. He answered their plea and directed the men of Judah to lead them in battle. The legacy of victory had continued from the time of Joshua, or so it would seem. In that very first chapter of Judges, we begin to see the tide change. There is a series of failures that signified this era. It was one marked by cycles of disobedience, compromising tolerance, religious and moral mayhem, and the worship of other gods (Judges 1:21, 27, 29-34). They were constantly doing “evil in the Lord’s sight” and “everyone did whatever he wanted.” Judges 2:11, 3:7, 3:12, 4:1, 6:1,13:1, 17:6, 21:25.
Israel’s defeat by their enemies would be God’s means of discipline. He would hear their response of desperate cries and raise up deliverers (Judges) to save them. God would pour His Spirit on them enabling them to lead His people and win many battles. There were repeated cycles of rebellion, discipline, repentance, obedience and deliverance. In the midst of moral chaos and constant bouts of defiance, God remained the same. He was faithful to His Covenant and to His people. He continued to reach out to His own, urging them to return to him and experience the joy of obedience.
Obedience and repentance can turn the tides of negative consequences. When God disciplines His children, it is always an act of grace. He could choose to give us what we deserve, but in His discipline, He grants us an opportunity to get it right and to return to proper fellowship with Him. We deserve death and to be cut off from His Presence, but He chooses to respond to our cries of desperation and rescue us from our self-destructive demise.
How far can we stray away from the presence and guidance of the Lord? How much can we assimilate into the culture we live in? How much can our values resemble those of the world? How much of our rebellion against God would it take for Him to turn a deaf ear to our cries of help? During the time of the judges, His children were pretty far gone. The last verse in the book of Judges says: “…everyone did whatever he wanted.” (21:25b HCSB). In the first verse of the book of Ruth it says, “During the time of the judges…” It is during this same period of repeated rebellion that the beautiful love story of redemption unfolds. The people get a glimpse of God’s ultimate plan.
God loves us too much to leave us to our own devices. Cry out to Him! He will never forsake us! What an awesome and faithful God! Let us walk continually in obedience to Him.
“The Israelites cried out to the Lord, and He raised up…” Judges 3:9, 15
By Abigail George