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 “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.
• 1 John 1:8 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” The person who knows where he stands before God is wise.
• Psalm 24:3-6 “3Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. 5He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Saviour. 6Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.”
Pastor Michael Brown shared this testimony in his book Hyper-Grace. When he was young he was into drugs and stealing money from his father very often. “Not only had I stolen money, I cut through the screen door in the back of the house to make it look as if someone had broken in.” (p.2)
Some weeks after he became a Christian, he was sitting in the kitchen one night, talking with his father and he asked, “Did you steal that money from me a few months back?” Michael said no. He lied.
“After I told him I hadn’t stolen the money, I went upstairs to my bedroom and fell to my knees, feeling miserable. Immediately – and I mean immediately – I was stricken with the Spirit’s conviction, and I knew I couldn’t lie to my father. So I told the Lord I was sorry for lying and that I would tell my dad the truth.”
“I went back downstairs where my father was still sitting, and I told him what I had done. And, as remarkable as this sounds, this is how my father responded (he was not a believer at that time) – “Michael, when I saw the money missing I knew immediately you had stolen it, and I forgave you on the spot. But what hurt me was that you had a need and didn’t come to me for help.” That was my earthly father!