I mentioned in an earlier post that the book of Judges tells of Israel’s seven cycles of “sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, silence.”
Israel goes through one of those cycles in Judges 10, from silence to salvation:
- Jair leads Israel for 22 years (vs. 3). But then he dies… and
- Israel again does evil in the eyes of God and turns to worship no less than seven other gods. (vs. 6)
- In response to Israel’s adultery, God allows Israel to be enslaved by the Ammonites and the Philistines (vs. 7).
- Eventually the suffering gets to Israel (the nation was in “great distress”), and the people cry out to God, confessing “We have sinned against You, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.” At first God tells Israel to ask their “gods” for help, and they repeat their confession: “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” (vs. 10-15)
- The people of Israel don’t just confess their sin, but they show the fruit of repentance: “…they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD.” (vs. 16)
- “And [the LORD] could bear Israel’s misery no longer…”
What struck me as I read this passage is that I go through the same cycle. I’m coasting along with God and think everything is hunky dory, but below the surface idolatries are brewing. I am serving other “gods” – looking for favor and validation from anyone but God – who directed infinite love towards me when He was on the cross.
The thing is, I often don’t see that I am serving idols. The idolatrous rituals are hidden deep in unconscious patterns of my flesh.
So God allows difficulties to enter my life. As the distress deepens, somehow I am able to see junk that I never saw in my heart, lies that I have believed, ways that I have sought blessings more than God, who is Himself the greatest blessing. Sometimes I respond to the difficulties with sinful attitudes I never saw before.
Eventually, by God’s grace, my heart is broken by my treason. I confess. And by His grace, I repent.
I love it that “God could bear Israel’s misery no longer.” It’s as if God has suffered with Israel, with me. He hates that we have to endure misery before we “get it” about our sin. But when we turn in repentance, He can finally take the pressure off. His mercy brought the pain. And now His mercy relieves it.
Israel’s slavery led to “great distress.” My difficulties feel to me like great distress. But my pain is nothing (less than nothing) to what Jesus suffered on the Cross.
When God could bear our misery no longer, He took the misery on Himself.
He died to draw me close and he lets me endure great distress to draw me closer.
Today’s Readings: Judges 9:1 – 10:18, Psalm 50:1-6, Proverbs 14:25-27, Luke 16:1-31. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).