Repetitive Concern

Judges 6:1-6

1The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

Callous

In the Philippine countryside, farmers normally use sandals. If a farmer uses a pair of sandals everyday, it can only last a few months. An older farmer wears his sandals when walking in the neighbourhood but he carries them when walking in the field. He walks barefoot in the field. His feet have grown thick callous.

The Scripture teaches in Psalm 73:7, 7From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits.

Just as callous in the farmer’s feet are not pleasant sight, callous heart is unpleasant in God’s sight. Sometime after they defeated the Canaanites, the Israelites have grown callous heart. Their deeds were considered evil by the Lord.

1. Deed

1The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.

God has chosen Israel to be His Holy nation but it did not exempt them from wickedness. Perhaps, wickedness was normal lifestyle among them but not acceptable before God. If the Israelites are prone to commit evil before God, believers with Gentile back ground have no guarantee of exemption from evil deeds.

The Scripture teaches that everyone is controlled by sin.

It says in Romans 3:9,  9Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin.

In Romans 3:23, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

In Romans 11:32, 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Our response to the above verses helps us distinguish if we trust God’s word. Non-believers may ask: “If God bound everyone to disobey so that He may have mercy on them all, why would God punish anyone who sins?” Non-believers are not prepared to trust and obey the Scripture. They try to justify their evil deeds.

In contrast, believers would not dare to justify themselves before God. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit gives believers wisdom and understanding that whatever God commands is meant for the betterment of anyone who obeys Him. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:17, 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

In Proverbs 9:10, 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Unconsciously, adults want to prove that they already have acquired wisdom. How can we to determine if we have wisdom? We use human standards to measure it.

Wisdom measured by human standard is not a wisdom that comes from God. Wisdom from God is measured by the readiness to obey His instruction.

Q-Tips

One thing that many of us use improperly is Q-Tips or cotton swabs. On its box, a caution is written how to use Q-Tips. It says, “Do not insert into ear canal. Inserting into ear canal can cause injury. Use on the outside of ear only.” This warning is often ignored.

Many people have not read this warning yet, because they presume that they know how to use cotton swabs. They store up earwax inside their ear canal by improper use of Q-Tips. When cotton swab is inserted into the ear canal, it pushes the ear wax inside. Thick earwax may clog the ear canal and causes unclear or obscure hearing.

Similarly, many believers assume that they knew how to live their lives a Christians. They don’t bother to read God’s warnings in the Scripture. Spiritual earwax may have clogged their spiritual ears that they just can’t hear when God speaks to them.

What Isaiah has prophesied, Christ has declared in Matthew 13:14-15, 14 “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

Disobedience to God’s instruction has consequences. It makes the heart callous. One may claim, “I have not heard the voice of the Lord.” Not able to hear God’s voice is one proof of grown callous heart. When we frequently disobey the Lord, it won’t take long before we grow callous heart and can’t hear God’s word. We’ve got to repent.

God is waiting to forgive us. He did not punish the Israelite right away when they sinned. They intentionally ignored Him. Their lifestyle was wicked before God. But He warns of impending punishment. It says in Jeremiah 11:7, 7From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.”

The Lord is slow to anger. He has already set a time for punishment of sin on the Judgment Day. In the meantime, He warns us to return to Him and obey His commands. Do you believe that God’s command is designed for our betterment? By we ignore God.

Why? The Israelites kept on ignoring God. So He sent a devastating punishment.

2. Devastation

Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

Previously, when the Israelites fought the Canaanites, Amalekites who were living in Ephraim who tried to help the Canaanites but were defeated. Amalekite survivors may have escaped to their relatives who lived in the east of the Jordan River. Then, they allied themselves with the Midianites, and attacked the Israelites. This time, they won.

God also put fear in the heart of the Israelites that they hid from invaders.

If God is love, why did He allow the wicked Israelites to be devastated?

The wisest king teaches in Ecclesiastes 7:14, 14When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.

Have you ever been faithful to the Lord, and then suddenly, God allowed you to go through terrible difficulties in life? Have you ever ask, “Why me Lord?” Should we deserve better because we do things we assume as God’s will?

Paul

Paul wrote it twice that he work harder than the other apostles. He served God faithfully. He said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

And in 2 Corinthians 11:23, 13Are they servants of Christ? I am out of my mind to talk like this. I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.

Paul testified about the many difficulties he had gone through. Why did the Lord allow Paul to suffer? Did God not honor the hard work or faithful service of Paul?

Friendship with Burglar

A story was featured about a woman who befriended a burglar who stole things from her home. She came home and the back door was open. Her belongings were scattered. Few minutes later, a young person wearing her jacket, sweater and watch came. It’s the burglar. The burglar forgot her phone and keys inside the victim’s home.

The burglar said, “Sorry!” The victim gave the burglar some food. When police arrived and asked, the victim did not press charges. The victim shared her story to demonstrate that sometimes showing compassion to strangers can lead to surprisingly positive outcomes.

Can we love people who victimize us? Problems are also opportunities to prove God’s grace at work in our life. When people make our life difficult, God might have presented us opportunity to witness of His grace. Difficulties are designed to strengthen or shake faith in Him. Faith dictates that God knows and does what is best for us.

In Romans 11:33-36, 33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

<‘))).< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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