Summary: God always responds. God always delivers. God always wins.
Last week we looked at a judge called Shamgar, whom the Lord used to save Israel. He was the 3rd of the twelve judges (some says 13) mentioned in this book.
• Author Samuel recounted the acts of these judges, from Judges 3 to 16.
• They are not written entirely chronologically, because the judges are from different places.
• Samuel wanted to highlight what really happened in those times.
We see this sad PATTERN repeating itself (which Bro Michael highlighted last week) – the pattern goes like this:
• The people did evil in the sight of the LORD
• The LORD gave them into the hands of their enemies
• The Israelites cry out to the LORD in their distress
• The LORD raises up a deliverer
• And gives the enemies into the hands of the deliverer
• The land has rest for X number of years
We see this typical cycle in the account of 1st judge OTHNIEL (org nail) - Judges 3:7-11.
As expected, we see this comment repeated throughout this book: “The Israelites did evil in the sight of the LORD” (3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1).
• God’s hand of protection and blessing was lifted. His discipline came and Israel was oppressed by their enemies.
• In their misery, they cried out to God and God came to their rescue.
• The sad thing was this - Samuel summarised it in Judges 2:19
“But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.”
It was not just the cycles, they were spiralling downwards spiritually with each cycle. But despite this, God still respond to their cries for help.
GOD ALWAYS RESPONDS
God responds because He is gracious. God responds by grace, not by merit.
• Twelve times it happened in Judges, twelve times God showed up. Which means, every time. Every time Israel cries out, God responds.
• Jud 2:18b “…for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them.”
• David writes in the psalms (couple of times): “the LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (cf. Ps 103:8)
God never fails to respond. Jesus wasn’t joking when He says:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt 7:7-8)
If we FEEL that God is NOT responding, it helps to understand this: (1) it is a feeling, and (2) we are probably reading Him wrongly.
• God answers our prayers. The classic line we know is that God answers with YES, NO, or WAIT. And because NO and WAIT usually comes with silence, we misinterpret that as a non-response.
• Trust me. When God is not doing anything, that itself is a decision. He has chosen NOT to do anything, and that’s His response. If He needs to do something, He would have done it.
NO and WAIT has two possibilities: (1) circumstances are not right; and (2) I am not ready – not prepared for it, not mature enough for it, not ready for it.
• God wants to do something TO you and not FOR you - build your patience, stretch your faith, correct your motives.
• Paul prayed for the “thorn in his flesh” to be removed 3 times but God did not. Paul says that is to “keep me from being conceited” (2 Cor 12:7)
God shows up each time Israel cries out to Him, despite their increasing corruption.
• God always respond. He responds by grace.
• No situation is beyond God’s rescue, and no one is beyond redemption.
• If man is condemned in his sin, it is God condemning him. Man has chosen it upon himself.
• Samuel says 2:19 “They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.”
A leopard can change his spot!
Ray Ortlund, in his book YOU DON'T HAVE TO QUIT, tells this story:
A teacher asked her class, “Can a leopard change his spots?” All the children shook their heads no, except one little girl who nodded yes.
The teacher asked that again, they shook their heads no, and again, except the same little girl who nodded yes.
The teacher asked why she said yes. The child said, “I don't understand. If the leopard doesn't like that spot, why can’t she just move to another spot?”
Salvation for Israel is possible because God responds by grace.
• Salvation is always possible with God. We are saved by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. Choose to repent. If you refuse, you will stay put where you are.