Judges 3 and Phil 3:12-4:1
Yesterday’s reading recorded the disappointing end to Joshua’s campaign and Israel’s failure to keep their agreement with God. Israel wept aloud as they realized their failure meant they would not be able to drive out their remaining enemies, not fully occupy the Promised Land!
Judges 3 sets the scene for the book of Judges; the pattern that is repeated throughout the book, reaching a climax with Samson. God is rightly angry with Israel who have broken their relationship with Him. They forget their Lord and continue to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. God uses testing situations, allows difficulties, to see if they would walk in His way. Would they respond with love and obedience?
The sad answer, over and over, is ‘No’. They would not. They did evil in the eyes of the Lord. They were subject to oppressors, for 9 then 18 years. However, when they did cry to the Lord for deliverance, He responded. In His compassion, sent a deliverer, a Judge, a Savior (v9,v15). Then the land had peace while the Judge lived. And so the pattern goes.
And there are some strange ways the deliverer saves them. The story of Ehud has comic details about obesity and toilets, and Ehud shows cleverness and individual bravery in his rouse, then leadership in totally wiping out the ‘vigorous and strong’ Moabites from Israel. Shamgar, (short on detail) is also a bit surprising and unusual – saving Israel with an oxgoad! Not your go-to weapon of choice. Clearly it is the Lord (v28) who is giving them victory.
This repetition throughout Judges serves to show how ingrained is Israel’s disobedience, and how unable we are, like the people of Israel, to be right with God by our own efforts.We too need a deliverer, and He sent us one, who fought the battle for us, using a surprising and unusual weapon – the cross and the sacrifice of Himself.
In Philippians 3, Paul talks of the righteousness that comes from Christ for those who put their faith in Him. Christ has taken hold of you (v12). It is His plan, His work and His achievement.
We still need to fight our spiritual enemies, that in a sense – like Israel- test our trust and obedience to Him. Our enemies are close – our own satisfaction (v19), and concerns with earthly things tend to make us forget the Lord, like so many before us have…
But we have a wonderful Savior. We eagerly await His appearing. Everything will be finally put right, and there will be transformation! Hard for us to picture what that means. Hard for us to be wanting that if our mind is on earthly things.
Enjoy today, the knowledge that you are a citizen of heaven. The highest privilege, saved to belong to Christ, is yours. Enjoy the certainty that rests in His ability as Deliverer, not in ours. In the vast operations of the spiritual world, we belong to Christ, to heaven, to the eternal life that flows from God. May our hearts respond with thanks, awe and love. In this way, turn again to the source of all your blessings this morning.