Monday, March 31, 2008

The Land Had Rest

March 31: Judges 3-5

7 And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. . . . 9 But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. . . . 11 So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.

12 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 He gathered to himself the Ammonites and the Amalekites, and went and defeated Israel. And they took possession of the city of palms. 14 And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

15 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man. . . . 30 So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.
Judges 3:7, 9, 11, 12-15 & 30

1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. 2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. 3 Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had 900 chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years.

23 So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. 24 And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.
Judges 4:1-3 & 23-24

And the land had rest for forty years.
Judges 5:31b

As we continue in the book of Judges, the "Judges Cycle" continues; as life became easier for the people of Israel, they began to mix with the nations around them through intermarriage, and then by serving the gods of the nations around them.

God then caused them to be subdued by the nations around them, and the cycle continued. The people then cried out to God for deliverance, and God would send a deliverer who often became their judge. As long as they remained obedient to God, the land had rest from war.

God used Othniel (the nephew of Caleb), Ehud, Shamgar, and Deborah and Barak to lead the fight for freedom against the nations around them. (Read through these chapters, and you will get the details of how that deliverance was won.)

Look at the time period that elapsed in these three chapters. Judges 3:11 - 40 years, 3:14 - 18 years, 3:30 - 80 years, Judges 4:3 - 20 years, and Judges 5:31 - 40 years, for a total of 180 years.

Sometimes we are pretty hard on the people of Israel because they never seemed to learn the lesson! In just three chapters, look how many different times the people of Israel left God to serve other gods, repented and cried out to God for help, and then were delivered by a servant of God. Yet, what is just three chapters to us, was really a time period of 180 years.

Now, let us look into our own lives. How prone are we to turn against God? Remember that phrase in the song, "Come Thou Fount"?

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.

How does the writer end that verse?

Here's my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for thy courts above.

That is the correct response we should have after reading Judges 3-5! We need to seriously look at these chapters and realize that we are even worse than the Israelites. It often seems that we are so quick to turn from the Lord at every crossing in the road of life. The temptations around us are so alluring and so deadly!

Pray today that God would seal your heart from the temptations all around you; seal it for God's courts above!

And the land had rest. Amen, so let it be!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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