Rescued From Our Inconsistency
A daily devotion to help you navigate lockdown
"Heavenly father, thank you for 'Sufficient Grace' - not only for the needs of my soul but for the needs of my day as well. Uphold me this day i pray that i may walk safely and wisely and usefully with you - In Jesus' Name. Amen'
"The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals...so that He sold them into the hands of the king of Aram to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. But when they cried out to the Lord He raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel.... The Spirit of the Lord came upon him so that he became Israel's judge and went to war...the Lord gave the king of Aram into Othniel's hands...so the land had peace for forty years until Othniel died" (Judges 3:7-11).
Each morning (like so many Christians) I take some strong tea to my desk to read and pray. I've just begun reading the book of Judges in the Old Testament. If you know this book you know the pattern where God's people sin...get captured...cry for help...receive a deliverer (judge)....get rescued....enjoy peace and then the cycle starts again and again and again.
It's easy to be shocked by the cycle ("why are they so stupid?" and "why is God so patient?") until you look in the mirror. The people of God were - and are - tragically inconsistent. The only servant who was perfectly consistent is Jesus Christ - and He is the Saviour of all who did - and do - believe.
Here are some things I learned this morning from the verses above:
1. There are two sides to sin - "forgetting the Lord" and "serving something else". To 'forget' the Lord doesn't mean having no memory of Him but having no appreciation for Him. To 'serve' something else doesn't mean to have something else you happily enjoy but to have something else you sinfully follow.
2. When God sold His people into slavery it was to bring them to grief so He could then bring them home. In other words it is the kindness of God to first frustrate our drift from Him, because He is planning our return to Him. [If things go wrong, it may be God's love at work].
3. Though the people cried to God there is no evidence that they were sorry for their sin - they were just sorry for themselves. It is a mark of God's amazing grace that He will respond to a bad prayer for a good outcome.
4. When the Spirit came on Othniel then he became a useful judge (or deliverer). Did you notice "the Spirit came ...SO he became Israel's judge"? He didn't just decide to be God's servant but God decided to make him one. Then he didn't succeed because he was great but because God made him effective.
5. The text says that "the Lord GAVE" the king into Othniel's hands and that Othniel "overpowered" the king. Both are true. Our service for Christ would fail without Him [ "without me you can do nothing" said Jesus in John 15:5] but it wouldn't happen without us as His instruments. There is a beautiful balance between our labour and His. (See Colossians 1:29).
6. Do you see how long the slavery lasted? Eight years. Do you see how long the peace [Shalom] lasted? Forty years. The wonder of these 'deliverers' is that they brought a taste of peace. The tragedy of these deliverers is that they were temporary. None of them could stick around forever.
7. We see in these verses that the God of the Old and New Testament is full of wisdom, love and power - as well as mercy and patience. The answer to inconsistency does not lie inside ourselves but outside - in the Saviour, Deliverer, Judge and King who is Jesus Christ. He is the One who sees our drifting, uses circumstances to bring us to our senses, hears our cry for help, brings His own rescue to us and rules forever - never to be dethroned. That is an eternal Shalom.
"Thank you our gracious God that wrapped up in your own heart is all the love and power that sinners need to come back to you and go forward for you. Take and use us this day we pray, for little or great things as you decide - in Jesus' Name. Amen."
God keep blessing you.