Last week I wrote about the vexation of our sanctified soul and spirit over the flagrant wicked deeds of the ungodly. Our hearts cry out for justice, yet we see nothing happen. We cry out for a righteous leader, though there are few who rise to the occasion.
In the times of the Judges (after Joshua died), there were good times and bad because there was no king in Israel to rule. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). It was a dark period in Israel’s history, approximately 400 years.
The bad times came about because Israel became attracted to the gods of their neighbors. When they abandoned their covenant with God, he used the people of those gods to bring judgment and oppression. Israel’s national and spiritual unfaithfulness led to the deterioration of family, moral values, and ultimately their economy. They became defenseless against invading foreigners and were enslaved by them.
In their despair, Israel appealed to God and his faithfulness to his covenant. So he raised up judges like Deborah, Gideon, and Samson to deliver them. When they returned to the Lord the bad times became good times again−times of peace, freedom and economic prosperity.
Sadly and eventually, however, they forgot the past mistakes of their nation and repeated the cycle.
The next generation emerged to embrace the pattern of their predecessors: i.e., attraction to the gods of their neighbors, departure from God’s covenant, spiritual compromise, idol worship, national corruption, economic downturn, and servitude to foreigners. This cycle happened “seven” times through the book of Judges, and each time God brought judgment through oppressive foreigners before they would come to their senses and repent. They had to experience the contrast between the gods of the foreigners they were enslaved by, and the only true God of their nation. Before their eyes could be opened to the insanity of their choices and wicked deeds, they had to be brought to despair and ruin. Like the prodigal son−who found himself eating the very slop he fed to the pigs−Israel came to her senses first, then she cried out to God for help.
Biblical and historic revivals were preceded and motivated by national corruption, despair and ruin. Why? Because people can’t come to their senses without realizing or experiencing their loss. Until then−and only then−can a man, a woman, or a nation experience the type of genuine conviction that leads to true repentance and reconciliation to God. Judgment upon a nation and its people has a way of creating a genuine environment for repentance and revival. When we understand that, then we’ll understand that judgment upon a nation−through oppressive leaders, foreigners, or economic downturns−can be an act of God’s mercy to awaken the complacent and complicit to what brought them there.
Blessed are the [humble, the paupers, the destitute, the poor] in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. –Matthew 5:3