From Judges 6-7
Israel is oppressed by the Midianites as part of another cycle of sin and disobedience. This time the LORD sends a prophet who reminds them of what the LORD has done for them and condemns their disobedience. We are starting to see through Judges the repeated pattern described in the initial chapters. Repeated an ongoing sin, even if it is forgiven is not a good sign of things to come. Jesus can win victories over repeated sin.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Deborah and Jael have just won a decisive victory for Israel over Sisera and the Canaanites (Jdg 5.1-31). One might think Israel would have listened to the LORD’s prophets and realised the reason why they were oppressed in the first place by the Canaanites was because they were being unfaithful to the LORD. Today we see this same pattern happen again.
6 The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.
2 And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. 3 For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in.
6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. (Jdg 6.1-6)
Israel was brought low because they did evil in the sight of the LORD.
This time it wasn’t the Philistines or the Canaanites. It was by the Midianites.
Note: ‘Midianites were desert dwellers from northwest Arabia, related to the Israelites through Abraham (Gn. 25:1–5).’ (Carson, D.A. et al. eds., 1994. New Bible commentary: 21st century edition 4th ed., Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)
They hurt Israel by coming in and taking their crops. Their food. The suffered under their oppression for seven years. A long time.
The situation got so bad for Israel, they started to build dens, caves and strongholds in the mountains so they could grow and store their food without it being taken away by the Midianites.
6b And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD. 7 When the people of Israel cried out to the LORD on account of the Midianites, 8 the LORD sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them,
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. 9 And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10 And I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.” (Jdg 6.6-10)
Israel was in distress so they called out to the LORD for help.
The LORD hears their cries even though their sin put them in distress.
At this point the LORD does not send a judge. He sends a prophet. The prophet reminds them of what the LORD has done for them and rebukes them for their disobedience.
He explained to them the reason why they were being oppressed by the Midianites. I suspect if they were in trouble they would do anything to get away from it. The problem arises when the the LORD has given peace. Will they remain faithful to him?
Do you think Israel was better or worse for the LORD sending the Midianites to oppress them when they sinned?
The same pattern repeats itself several throughout Judges. Israel’s disobedience, foreign oppression, Israel cries for help, the LORD raises a judge, and the land is at peace for some years. Then the cycle happens all over again.
What we see through these cycles is a gradual descent into greater and greater amounts of sin and disobedience. The LORD’s intervention was merciful and gave them opportunities to repent. But the repeated lapses into sin proved to be a sign all was not well for Israel.
In the gospel Jesus laments this same pattern through their past. Israel turned violent on the ones God sent to turn them to a healthy relationship with God and life.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ” (Mt 23.29-39)
The LORD does not want the wicked to perish. He sends numerous warnings to turn people away from sin that they may repent and receive forgiveness.
At the end, Jesus says, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. Jesus is the one who can save us from repeated sin in our lives. If you struggle with sin that keeps on coming back in your live. Turn to him in prayer and seek his help to cut it out of your life.
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