Summary: Israel’s diving into idolatry and God’s provision of deliverance through the judges are an example to you and I of His power to deliver.
The Pathway of Deliverance
By Pastor Jim May
Time and again Israel took a ride on the spiritual roller coaster. One moment they were on the mountaintop when God would bring them great deliverance, but it was only a short fall to the bottom where they would find themselves in terrible bondage once more.
Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? I did when I was younger but now God has given me a little more wisdom, and lot weaker stomach, so I don’t ride anymore. But if there was one thing I can remember is that when you were moving fast and you reached the top of the hill, you’d better be strapped in and holding on, or you would feel like you are coming out of the car. On the other hand, when you are screaming down the hill and hit the bottom, it seemed like you would weigh 5 times your normal weight and you couldn’t get up if you had to.
That sounds a lot like life in general doesn’t it; especially in the spiritual aspects of life. When I am set free from depression, from sickness, from pain, from anything that weighs me down, I feel like I could fly. It’s a time of joy and euphoria as you bask in the sweet feeling of freedom. Much like the freedom and joy we felt at the moment that Jesus washed our sins away. Life was much brighter, the world was more beautiful and we felt as though the weight of the whole world was lifted and if Jesus didn’t have us bound to the earth with the force of gravity, we might just have floated on into Heaven right then and there.
But the feeling of euphoria doesn’t last long for most of us. In just a few minutes we can find ourselves sliding down that slippery slope into the bondage of sin and the temptations of the world once more.
There are a lot of people in the church who I know are riding that spiritual roller coaster right now. We can never know what to expect. One Sunday they walk in praising the Lord and the next Sunday, if they even show up, they walk in dragging their baggage of sin that they have been weighed down with all week.
Today I want to bring you two instances from the history of Israel and show you how God can use some pretty strange circumstances and some unlikely sources to deliver you from that roller coaster ride.
The important thing to note is that there was always one major factor that led Israel to go back down the slope into sin each time it happened. I want you to see that we have that same problem today. The main thing that allows people to get caught up in sin after they have been delivered is that they often have too much time to waste and they relax and let their guard down. I’m all for those wonderful times of peace and rest, but we must take heed lest we allow Satan to use our “idle mind” as his own workshop to bring us down.
During one period of their history, Israel was led and sometimes delivered by people who God called to the forefront but they were not prophets or teachers. These folks were just godly people who had a desire to serve the Lord and see Israel set from the bonds of slavery. Some of the things they did to deliver Israel aren’t what we might expect.
When you read about Moses, that great prophet, being used by God to deliver Israel, it’s an awe inspiring story. When you read how God used Elijah to set Israel free from idolatry on Mount Carmel when the fire came down and consumed everything in sight, we are reminded of God’s judgments and his intolerance of sin in the camp.
But today I want to show you how God used a few of his judges in Israel. Their stories are quite different and it may even shock you to see how God uses them to set His people free.
First, let’s begin in Judges Chapter 3.
Judges 3:1-7, "Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves."