In Judges 2 it was revealed that losing the knowledge of God and forgetting the deeds of God leads to spiritual atrophy. Those who atrophy spiritually abandon God and when one abandon’s God one behaves wickedly. God does not miss the wickedness of man for those deeds rise like smoke before him. Even if the smoke is not seen it is smelled. Another and encouraging thing is seen in these verses. God hears the cries of those who suffer.
“6 And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. 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 bondage. 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.” (Judges 6:6-10–ESV)
The rebellious may come to the breaking point
The suffering drew Israel down so far that they eventually called out to the only source they recognized as having hope for them.
It is a sad thing that so much normal has to be removed before people (me, we, you, etc.) will fall back on the hope we know God offers.
We can see in the history of Israel & Midian the lesson Jesus taught in the parable of the prodigal son. In that story the younger son requested his inheritance before the dad died. Remarkably the father gives it and the son leaves. He wastes all of the good things given to him and his life atrophies to a terrible point. If you remember that story what did the son say when he came to himself? He said, “even my father’s servants live better than this. I will go home.”
The point to see here is that somewhere in the back of Israel’s mind or under the dirt of their lives they knew God was waiting. When things got bad enough for Israel they decided to go back to him. Is there not a great pathos in seeing this? Why, why, must Israel (and we) be brought so low before they would submit to God?
While it is so sad that Israel had to get to this point it remained a blessing that they were able to call upon God.
God did not ignore their pleas-Part 1
So God heard, didn’t he. This is in verse 7. God responded by sending a prophet. There was a reason that Israel had the dwindles.
God recounted the history of Israel. Joshua did this before he died and it is recorded in Joshua 24. Moses did this and it is recorded rather exhaustively in the book of Deuteronomy. God pointed out the great salvation given in the escape from Egypt. He pointed out the gift of the land of Canaan. The message of this prophet concluded by recounting a command given and the command disobeyed.
The first step in restoration is always dealing with the disease that caused it. If your window sills are rotting the source of the moisture must be eliminated. When sins were Israel’s problem God directed them to the root cause. There was a reason why they had dwindled. They needed to understand this and so the prophet was sent to remind them.
That God sent a prophet meant that God was not off on vacation someplace. He was present. He was ready to hear the cry of his people. He was ready to respond and respond he did. It is a great thing that God is not like Israel (or us). Israel did not listen to God, but God listened to Israel. Now that God answered the cry of his oppressed people the people needed to respond. They needed to be ready. They needed to put off the sins and wicked styles that marked their lives.
Key points from this passage:
- It is a blessing to be able to call upon the Lord.
- Remember the Lord in the days of blessing
- Remember the Lord in the days of suffering (even if you have been rebellious)
- God still hears the call of those who have been willfully rebellious
- God listened even though the people didn’t (See verse 10)
- God still expects obedience
- Calling upon the Lord does not resolve the issue any more than calling the doctor resolves the cancer.