“Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.” (Judges 2:11-12) Then –
” . . . the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.” (Judges 2:14)
Sound familiar? Is history repeating itself in our own country today? What happened at this point in Israel’s story was a – BUT GOD intervention for sure.
“Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. . . . Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, He was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. . . . But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:16-19)
BUT GOD – had compassion on His people. He raised up judges for them. God saved them out of the hands of their enemies. The Israelites response? When the judge died, they returned to “their evil practices and stubborn ways.” We read –
“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.” At this point they were sold into slavery for eight years to the king of Aram Naharaim. We read what happened next –
“But when they cried out to the Lord, He raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, . . . The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. . . . So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.” (Judges 3:9-11)
What happened after Othniel’s death? You guessed it. “Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, . . . The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years. Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and He gave them a deliverer – Ehud, . . . That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.” (Judges 3:12-15 & 30)
By now I’m guessing you’re seeing the cycle of the nation of Old Testament Israel – rebellion against God and His ways, repentance, return to God, crying out to Him, a rescue from God for their nation, followed by peace and prosperity until they again stop following God’s ways and laws and again began doing their own thing. In fact, the book of Judges ends with these words –
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)
Other translations say, “each person did whatever seemed right in his own opinion.” (ISV) or “Everyone did whatever they pleased.” (Good News Translation) or “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (ESV) Sounds like a recipe for chaos and disaster, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what it was for Israel and what it still is today for any society that is without the benefit of laws and leadership, leaving everyone to decide for themselves what is right and to make their own rules.
Our country seems to be suffering daily from chaos and lawlessness. We see criminals go free while the victims of their crimes are the ones vilified. As a nation we have cast God out of our public life, we no longer acknowledge Him from whom all blessings flow, as our founders freely did. And this is to our detriment. We, like Israel, are in need of a “BUT GOD” intervention for our country. I find much hope in these words from 2 Chronicles 7:14-15,
“if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
I can feel much despair as I look around at the events that are causing so much suffering today. Despair paralyzes. But hope galvanizes. Hope believes that there is a “BUT GOD” coming. Hope compels me to humble myself, to pray, to seek God’s face, to turn from my ways (which are wicked) to God’s ways (which are always good) knowing that then I will hear from heaven – knowing that if we do this individually and corporately, God has said He will forgive our sin and heal our land.
The story of our country is not over yet, just as Joseph’s or Noah’s or Jonah’s stories were not over even when they appeared to be at an end. “BUT GOD” always has the final say because He is sovereign, it is His story and He has control of the script. That is a great comfort and source of hope to me and may it be for you also, dear readers. Hang on – there is a “BUT GOD” on the way.
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. . . . You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” (Psalm 33:11-12)
sincerely, Grace Day