It is said that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
What a truth that is for the Israelites when we find their plight in the first pages of the Book of Judges. They have been given a promised land by God and told to claim all of the land He has promised them. In Genesis 15:18 God said, “To your descendants I give this land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates. God’s people were poised and positioned to receive a great inheritance from the Lord.
Unfortunately the Israelites settled only in portions of the promised land and they did not drive out their enemies as instructed. Perhaps the Israelites were tired of fighting, perhaps they saw the “iron chariots” the enemy had as unbeatable weapons, perhaps they doubted their mighty God to save them. Whatever the reasons, they chose to be disobedient to God’s spoken word and promises. As a result of not defeating and driving out the enemy, Israelites mixed with the Midianites and were subjected to the following:
- Skirmishes and outbreaks of war with the Midianites over territories
- Fought battles to keep their crops that the Midianites routinely stole
- Steeped in the idolatrous culture around them, worshipping false gods and goddesses.
Israel was making decisions based on their limited supplies instead of on the boundless resources of their God. If God had commanded their enemy's destruction, He had also taken into account their iron chariots and had planned to equip His people for victory, regardless. No weapon could stand against the almighty power of Yahweh. If only Israel had believed that and lived according to God's promises and plan.
Partial obedience is disobedience. How often do we today compromise our ability to fully enjoy the promises of God and remain under His canopy of protection and provision? What allegiances do we have with today’s world? What choices have we made that look like we too have settled in and are willing to let ourselves be swayed by the culture around us?
God desires a restored relationship with you and me. The choices we make often take us to places where we become vulnerable and easy prey for the enemy. There is a cycle that God’s people have been in throughout history. What cycle are we in right now? Are we standing strong against the enemy? Are we walking with God and allowing Him to be our framework for the path we walk each day? Is He the foundation we chose to base our lives on?
The story of God’s people from the very beginning has been a cycle of following God, falling away or rejecting God for their own way, decline of God’s people, consequences allowed by God’s hand, and finally a restored relationship to God’s presence.
As Priscilla Shirer writes in the opening pages of her Gideon study, “The bottom line is that empowerment by God’s Spirit is a necessity for success. Supernatural acts require supernatural equipping.” It is a supernatural act of God for me to see who I am in His eyes. It is a supernatural act for me to love others in a way I normally would not love them or be drawn to them. It is a supernatural act for me to daily set aside my will and chose to follow God’s will. When I begin to follow the logic and rationale of “self,” I quickly reap the effects of disobedience. It looks something like this…”What do I want to do today? How can I fix this problem? How can I make someone understand my side of things? What should I do?
There were an awful lot of “I’s in that and not a bit of God anywhere. I’m guilty of trying to do it my own way and not seeking out what God’s best is for me. But my story and your story is not finished. We are a work in progress and have been given the gift of forgiveness and a way to be restored to our sovereign creator—through our Lord Jesus. He is the greatest Deliverer of all time! It is only through the divine presence of Christ in our lives that we can “circle back” and be restored to Him. Your legacy of faith is being written today and it will be written tomorrow and the next day. What will it look like to those around you?
If you were to expand upon Joshua 24:15 which says, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” will your legacy of faith reveal that “you will serve him most of the time, you will serve him when it is convenient and easy, or you will serve him despite the cost and whatever it takes to draw yourself and those around you to a closer relationship to Him?
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are a loving compassionate Father who has provided a way out of bondage from the enemy. Help me to see that Your plan is the best plan for my life! Help to free me from those things that pull me away from You. Replace in me a desire to follow You wholeheartedly and to know that even in my weaknesses and struggles, You can do great and mighty things in my life if I just trust you! -Amen