Summary: For the fourth time, Israel repeats their sin cycle. Why can't they just stay saved?
[Open with video of opening scene from "The Incredibles," where Mr Incredible says, "No matter how many times you save the world, it always ends up in jeopardy again]
How many of you have ever felt like Mr. Incredible from that video? “No matter how many times you save the world, it always winds up in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved. You know what I’m saying?”
If you’re a mother with small children, you know this well. Didn’t I just clean up this mess?
My mother had a little sign in her laundry room when I was a kid. It said, “Doing laundry while your kids are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing.”
“Why can’t things just stay fixed?”
When it comes to people, the stakes get even higher, and the disappointments become more painful. Have you ever had that one friend who just jumps from one bad relationship to the next? Or maybe you ARE that one friend. Or maybe you are constantly looking for a new job, or constantly losing the job you have, because, quote, “I just can’t get along with my boss.” And it hasn’t dawned on you yet that there is one common factor in every bad relationship, in every crummy job, in every poor decision. Guess what it is?
Maybe you look in the mirror, and you are wondering, How come I keep making the same mistakes? The same stupid decisions? How come I keep giving into the same sin?
Now, when we know that about ourselves, then can we stop and think about how God must feel when He looks at us?
We are in week four of our journey through Judges, and this morning, we are going to look at the life of our fourth judge. And so far, we’ve seen the same pattern repeated four times. [TRANSITION]
The people will enjoy a time of peace and STABILITY. Then they will fall back into their patterns of WICKEDNESS and rebellion. God will allow them to be OPPRESSED by their enemies. Then they REPENT, and God responds by sending them a DELIVERER. The deliverer, or Judge in the language of Judges, rescues them from their enemies, and the people enjoy another time of stability.
Now, compare what you see on the screen to what you see on the front of the bulletin this morning. What’s different? That’s right. You see the word “regret” instead of repent. Did you know there’s a difference? And when you understand the difference between regret and repentance, you may begin to understand what it takes to break this spin cycle.
And when you look at the first few verses of Judges 6, You are going to see something else different from what we’ve seen before. Let’s go ahead and begin with verse 1, and let’s see what the bonus feature is this time around:
6 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. 6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.
7 When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, 8 the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.”
Okay. Let’s stop there. What’s different about this cycle? The people cry out, and God sends… a prophet…? This seems odd. They weren’t asking for teaching; they were calling for deliverance.