Contrite Heart

Judges 10:11-18

11 The Lord replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonitesoppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

15 But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.

17 When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever will take the lead in attacking the Ammonites will be head over all who live in Gilead.”

Introduction

Did someone hurt your feeling, lately? What if that person approaches you as if nothing happened, and offers handshake how do you respond? Would you extend your hand and shake the person’s hand or just ignore it?

Have you ever encountered people who say sorry and demand that their apology should be accepted? “I have said, “Sorry! Are you happy now? Huh!”

Others may even try to make you feel guilty if you ignore their apology. Saying the word “Sorry” does not make one apologetic. Imagine if we come to God proudly and say, “Lord, I already said sorry, why don’t You answer me?”

We are commanded to forgive others just as our Heavenly Father forgave us. True! God also knows that we often commit sin. And, if we ask God for help as if we did nothing to displease Him, would God readily welcome us?

It says in Isaiah 59:2, Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

God ignores us when there’s no sincerity in seeking His forgiveness. He forgives only those who repent sincerely. Is it enough to say “sorry” before God?

As believers, the Spirit of Christ lives in us. With discernment that comes from the Lord, we can easily sense the sincerity of apology and pretension.

King David wrote in Psalm 51:17, My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

The Israelites learned it the hard way that God does not readily forgive anyone who comes to Him and ask for forgiveness. God has been good to them and reminded them of how He rescued them from their enemies.

1. Remind

11 The Lord replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? 13 But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!”

The Israelites had taken for granted the Lord’s forgiveness. In the past, when invaders attacked and oppressed them, they cry out to Him, and the Lord rescued them. Yet, again and again, they repeated disgusting things before Him.  After the death of their leaders, they kept serving other gods, gods of other nations.

This time, God said that He will no longer rescue them. He wanted them to learn the hard way. He wanted them to prove for themselves that the gods of other nations that they served can really save them from oppression of enemies.

Of course, the gods of foreign nations cannot do anything because they have no life. But they didn’t  know it. It takes faith in God to know that reality.

It says in Psalm 115:3-9, 3Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. 4But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.
5They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. 6They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. 7They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.

9 All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—he is their help and shield.

Spies

The Israelites experienced God’s amazing intervention when He kept safe the 2 spies Joshua sent to Jericho. He said in Joshua 2:1-4, 1“Go, look over the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there. 2The king of Jericho was told, “Look, some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” 4But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. She said, “Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they had come from.

Why did Rahab help the Israelite spies? She knew that they were about to be invaded, right? Rahab was a prostitute, and she must have been despised and rejected by her society as implied by the house where she lived. Her house was part of the city wall, and she let the Israelite spies climbed down the window.

The people of Jericho heard about the miracles surrounding the Israelites. They were so scared. Rahab may have hoped that the Israelites would be kind to her. Did God inspire her to lie to the messengers who inquired about the spies?

This is one biblical proof that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. Jesus declared in John 14:23-24, Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

Obedience and love for God are inseparable. Jesus didn’t require us to tell Him, “I love You, Lord!” He would rather see us obey Him than saying or singing, “I love You, Lord!” Christ teaches that to prove our love for Him, we obey Him. Saying “I love You, Lord!” verbalizes love, but not a proof that Jesus requires.

Loving God is fruit of the Holy Spirit, and obeying Him is the work of the Holy Spirit that practically proves the kind of love acceptable to God. Obedience and love that originated from human initiatives are sinful in nature. We can obey and love God by faith. By faith, we ask Him to help us to love and obey Him.

When the Israelites sought the help of God, He ignored them at first, why?

But, when the Israelites decided to do what’s pleasing to God, he rescued them.

2. Rescue

15 But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.

The very reason God abandoned the Israelites was because they served the gods of other nations. When the Israelites said that God would do whatever He thought best, it implied that they trusted God. When they got rid of the foreign gods and started serving the Lord, it practically proved their sincere love for God.

Many serve the Lord when elected as church leaders. Anybody can also serve God even if not elected. When empowered by Christ’s Spirit, we serve Him inside or outside church setting. It practically proves our trust and love for God.

17 When the Ammonites were called to arms and camped in Gilead, the Israelites assembled and camped at Mizpah. 18 The leaders of the people of Gilead said to each other, “Whoever will take the lead in attacking the Ammonites will be head over all who live in Gilead.”

When the Israelites assembled to go to battle and willingly accepted the person who would lead them, it was a practical proof of their unity. Their unified effort and desire to face their oppressors was a manifestation that the Lord was about to rescue them from the enemies. God saw their sincerity when they got rid of foreign idols and decisive in their service to the Lord.

Sincerity to serve the Lord isn’t proven by one time occasion. Faithfulness and consistency of service shows that the Spirit of Christ is at work in us. It is easy to impress and deceive others, but God knows if we are sincere or not.

It says in 2 Timothy 2:4-7, 4No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

Military or sports training are learning stages to follow rules. Disobedience is punished with series of exercises. Actually, such punishment is designed to help trainees grow tougher but there’s resistance, why? When it’s done on one’s own volition or choice, it’s pleasant but when others dictate it, it’s unpleasant.

Human sinful nature desires its own choice, and readily resists instruction from God. Believers who willingly serve the Lord like a hardworking farmer will be first to receive a share of the crops. Keep serving and prove your love for God!

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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