Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I feel like I'm reading about the US!

Wow!  As I read Judges 10, I really feel like I'm reading about the US and the rest of the world as well right now! Even the commentary which was written in the 90's is like they've somehow read today's news headlines. I can't post all of Judges 10, but let me post a few verses and a bit of the commentary for you which will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. It's amazing and scary and it makes a lot of sense out of what's happening around the world and in the US!  This is from Wiersbe's, Be Available commentary.  Just replace the word "Israel" with "the United States" and you'll see what I mean.
 
Judges 10:11–14 —The Lord replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, *the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? *But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. *Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!” *

A nation in decay (Jdg. 10:1–18)
There were three deficiencies in Israel that gave evidence that the nation was decaying spiritually.
 
1. Israel’s lack of gratitude to the Lord (vv. 1–5). For forty-five years, the people of Israel enjoyed peace and security, thanks to the leadership of Tola and Jair. We know little about these two judges, but the fact that they kept Israel’s enemies away for nearly half a century would suggest that they were faithful men, who served the Lord and the nation well. Tola was from the tribe of Issachar, and Jair from the Transjordan tribes, the area known as Gilead.

The people of Israel, however, didn’t take advantage of these years of peace to grow in their relationship to the Lord. After the death of Jair, the nation openly returned to idolatry and once again invited the chastening of the Lord. They enjoyed forty-five years of peace and prosperity but didn’t take time to thank the Lord for what He had done for them. The essence of idolatry is enjoying God’s gifts but not being grateful to the Giver, and Israel was guilty.


Thanksgiving glorifies God (Ps. 69:30) and is a strong defense against selfishness and idolatry.

2. Israel’s lack of submission to the Lord (vv. 6–16). If the people had only reviewed their own history and learned from it, they would never have turned from Jehovah God to worship the false gods of their neighbors. From the time of Othniel to the days of Gideon, the Jews endured over fifty painful years of oppression from the enemy. By now they should have known that God blessed them when they were obedient and chastened them when they were rebellious. (See 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1.) After all, weren’t these the terms of the covenant that God made with Israel, a covenant the nation accepted when they entered the land? (Josh. 8:30–35)

The Lord had given Israel victory over seven different nations (Jdg. 10:11–12), but now Israel was worshiping seven different varieties of pagan gods (v. 6). No wonder God’s anger “was hot against Israel” (v. 7). What foolishness to worship the gods of your defeated enemies!

For the people to abandon God was one thing, but for God to abandon His people was quite something else. The greatest judgment God can send to His people is to let them have their own way and not interfere. “Wherefore God also gave them up.… God gave them up.… God gave them over” (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28). This was too much for the Jews, so they repented, put away their false gods, and told God He could do to Israel whatever He wanted to do (Jdg. 10:15–16).

Their hope wasn’t in their repenting or their praying but in the character of God. “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel” (v. 16). “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isa. 63:9). “Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful” (Neh. 9:31, NKJV). “Yet He was merciful; He atoned for their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time He restrained His anger and did not stir up His full wrath” (Ps. 78:38, NIV).

3. Israel’s lack of adequate leadership (vv. 17–18).
The people were prepared to act, but from all the tribes of Israel, there was nobody to take the lead. Whether in a nation or a local church, the absence of qualified leaders is often a judgment of God and evidence of the low spiritual level of the people. When the Spirit is at work among believers, He will equip and call servants to accomplish His will and bless His people (Acts 13:1–4).

In his book Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote, “We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve.” What’s true of political leadership is often true of spiritual leadership: We get what we deserve. When God’s people are submitted to Him and serving Him, He sends them gifted servants to instruct and lead them; but when their appetites turn to things of the world and the flesh, He judges them by depriving them of good and godly leaders. “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart” (Isa. 57:1, NIV).

When I was a young Christian, I heard an evangelist preach a powerful sermon on the text, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14) “We know where the Lord God of Elijah is,” he said; “He’s on the throne of heaven and is just as powerful today as He was in Elijah’s day.” Then he paused. “The question is not so much ‘Where is the Lord God of Elijah?’ as ‘Where are the Elijahs?’ ”

Indeed, where are the Elijahs? Where are the spiritual leaders who can rally God’s people and confront the forces of evil?

Wiersbe, W. W. (1994). Be available. “Be” Commentary Series 
 
(originally written over two years ago) 

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