"...I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars; but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?'"
Judges 2: 1,2
King James Version
"How will you find good? It is not a thing of choices; it is a river that flows from the foot of the invisible throne, and flows by the path of obedience."
Is there some behavior or action in my life that God is saying to me, "Why are you doing this?"
"Obedience to God is the most infallible evidence of sincere and supreme love to Him."
"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land."
Isaiah 1: 19
King James Version
Here in the United States, once a year, the President goes before the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the citizens of America and gives what is called The State of the Union address. This speech is designed to be an honest assessment of how things are going in the country both good and bad.
I liken the first few chapters in the book of Judges to a State of the Children of Israel address.
Before we study about the next woman mentioned in Scripture, Deborah, it would do us well to take a look at what the situation was like for God's children when Deborah was elevated by God to the position of a Judge in Israel.
In Judges Chapter 2, the people were reminded by God that He was their leader. He had guided them out of Egypt and "brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers" (Judges 2: 1, K.J.V.). God's hand of bounty had fed and led His children.
Because these were God's children, just like any loving and caring parent would do, God had some specific requests of His "kids." I understand this type of parental structure for growing up, my mom and dad, had "rules of the house" which my sister and I were informed we were to follow. Obeying these rules was not optional. It was required!
As an example, let me give you a few of the rules:
1. No single dating before 16 years of age.
2. No riding in a car without an adult until I was a senior in high school.
3. Curfew was 11 p.m. unless we were with our parents.
4. One-half of everything we made at our after school jobs had to be put in the bank
and saved for college tuition.
These rules may sound rather arbitrary and demanding. Yet, as I look back on them I find great wisdom demonstrated by my parents. I even hear myself repeating some of these rules to my nieces. As I told Bethanie, my 24-year-old niece who now volunteers and helps me here at Transformation Garden, "Honey, get home before midnight. Nothing good happens on the road after 12 a.m." I had to look in the mirror and make certain it wasn't my mother talking.
God came to His family circle, His precious children and said, "I have a few things I want you to do."
Here are some of His requests:
1. Don't intermarry with the people of Canaan.
2. Make no league (a compact or a deal) with the inhabitants of the land.
3. Throw down all the altars to other gods.
4. Drive out the inhabitants from the land I have given you.
What do we find happening? Judges 3 is a pitiful example of how God's requirements were ignored and disobeyed.
Instead of "driving" out the heathen, as God instructed them to do, the people of Israel, "dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites" (Judges 3: 5, K.J.V.). And when you're living together like one big happy family, the next thing we read in Judges 3: 6 is that, "They took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons." Everybody loved everybody else. Because now they were all related!
But then the worst happened. Instead of serving the God of Israel, in order to keep harmony in the big, mixed-up mess they had created, God's children, we are told, "served the heathen gods."
They tossed aside their Deliverer and Strength. They disobeyed their Father and ignored His words of instruction. They refused His protective hand, thinking they could take care of themselves. And before you knew it, the people they were to drive out of the land, had driven them into the ground. Judges 4: 2, 3 tells us that Jabin, the King of Canaan, sent the captain of his army, Sisera after God's children. With his 900 chariots of iron, Sisera was a formidable foe. ,The Bible says he, "oppressed the children of Israel for 20 years (Judges 4: 3). In the Hebrew the use of the word "oppressed or persecuted" in this context, means that the tyrannical subjugation of God's children was prolonged. It went on and on.
What a tragic state of affairs, for God's children were to be dwellers in a land flowing with milk and honey. They were to ride on the high places of the earth. They were to be the inheritors of the Promised Land and yet just a few years after crossing into their longed for home, they were ground into a pile of weeping and wailing, humiliated people by the very folk they were to have driven "out of the land."
So I ask our question for today: "How did they get into this mess?"
In Isaiah 1: 19, God told His children, and this includes you and me, too, that "eating of the good of the land was dependent on two specific "behaviors:"
In the Hebrew, the word "willing," as used in Isaiah 1: 19 means, "to breathe, to rest content." The word, "obedient" means to "intelligently and discerningly give ear to what is said."
Let's look at Isaiah 1: 19 again. "If you will take every breath in contentment with Me and My guiding and if you will discern with your ears what I am saying, you will (eat) or have plenty to devour in the widest possible places of goodness and joy, where all is well with you."
Isn't this beautiful? This is the grandeur God has planned for us when we are willingly obedient. Yet how often, like the children of Israel, we view God's requests and commandments as arbitrary and legalistic. How short-sighted! If you don't believe me, look where it got the children of Israel when they disobeyed; did their own thing; and followed the path that led to oppression by the very people God told them to drive out of their promised home.
Today may our prayer be that of Miles Cloverdale:
"O Lord our God,
give us by Your Holy spirit,
a willing heart and a ready hand
to use all Your gifts to Your praise
"O Lord, Thou greatest and most true Light, whence the light of the day doth spring! O Light, which dost lighten every (woman) that cometh into the world! O Thou Wisdom of the eternal Father, lighten my mind, that I may see only those things that please Thee, and may be blinded to all other things. Grant that I may walk in Thy ways, and that nothing else may be light and pleasant."