Summary: See the blessing of repentance and seek His presence in prayer.
Israel is weak, politically and spiritually.
• Politically they have been suffering under the threat of the Philistines, for decades.
• They are at war with them in chapters 4-6, and now 20 years later, in chapter 7 they are still at war.
• How long do they need to fight on? Until God steps in. You will always be struggling in life WITHOUT God.
And that is the problem, Israel is weak spiritually. They’ve broken their relationship with God, and that for a long, long time.
• Even after the Ark of God was returned to them and placed in Kiriath Jearim, it meant nothing to Israel. It is just a sacred object placed in a particular place.
• Israel had failed to acknowledge God. They have rejected God in their lives.
We are fooling ourselves today, if we think that by having some spiritual things with us we are going to be blessed.
• Nothing could be further from the truth. God is not with them, because they are not with God!
• It doesn’t matter whether you owns a bible, wear a cross on your neck, or a T-shirt that says “Jesus is Lord”. God is not in our lives if we do not have a relationship with Him.
Israel needs a REVIVAL - something to WAKE them up and cause them to RETURN to God. And that BREAKTHROUGH came in chapter 7, after 20 years!
• Twenty years of _____? SUFFERING. 7:2 “It was a long time, twenty years in all…”
• They suffered under the constant oppression of the enemies. They have had enough. 7:2b “all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord.”
That’s the blessing of PAIN. It has a way of at getting to us, in ways that peace and comfort.
• C. S. Lewis: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
That’s why I pray for pain to come upon people (sometimes). I’m not suggesting you do that. There are times when I felt a WAKE UP call is necessary and pain does that.
Prov 23:14 “Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.”
Matt 18:8-9 (quickview)  “If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”
To suffer for a moment (physically) is better than for good, spiritually, eternally.
What did Israel do eventually, after 20 years of pain and wasted time? Repent.
SEE THE BLESSING OF REPENTANCE
That’s the first step in returning to God. Repent!
Repentance is not a dirty word. Repentance before God is a blessing – a blessing of immense proportion.