Perhaps, like me, you get this frustrated feeling as you read through the first half of the book of Judges? Perhaps you see the repeated promises of obedience on the part of the Israelites as hollow and thin. Perhaps you start to question their truthfulness when they repent in times of trouble – only to fall right back into the same evil choices which led them into the trouble in the first place.

If you are feeling that way as you read – it is clear that God is beginning to feel that way as well. For once again we see the Israelites in need of a rescue. Fresh off the heals of the failure of Abimelech – we see new leadership under Tola and Jair. While under this leadership, we have no record of Israel straying… yet how quickly they resort back to their old ways once the current judge has died? (Judges 10:6). This time it is the Philistines to the south and the Ammorites to the east who come and bring oppression to God’s people.

But – did you notice how God reacted when the Israelites cried out to Him? In Judges 10:10 we see the people react as they had many times before.

And the Isrealites cried out to the Lord…”

Many times this same plot had played out – with Israel turning away from the Lord – they are oppressed by the enemy – they cry out to God – He hears and has compassion on them – He raises up a judge to rescue them. Over and over and over again this scene plays… until now… This time God does not seem to receive their empty words so easily as before. After reminding them of the numerous times He has come to their rescue – he astonishes them by making the stunning statement, “I will deliver you no more” (10:13).

The Israelites quickly figure out what we have the ease of seeing in hindsight. God is interested in REAL repentance from His people… not mere lip-service. Thus far His people have shown an ill-regard for Him and His Covenant. They have broken it more times then can be counted – and have grown accustomed to simply saying ‘We are sorry’ – then sitting back while God rescues them from their enemies.

But this time God seems to have had enough with that game… and is requiring something more.

As the gravity of their situation falls upon the Israelites (after God shocks them with His refusal) – they take 5 important steps which proves their genuine repentance. These five steps can be a lesson for us today as well.

  1. They own up to their sin (vs 15). By admitting “we have sinned”, the people make a confession and acknowledge their sin… thus one of the first steps to true repentance.
  2. They surrender to God (vs 15). The people give themselves over to the Lord; “do what you will with us”. Like David would do in the future – it has become abundantly clear that being in the hands of the Lord is much better then being in the hands of evil men.
  3. They ask for deliverance now (vs 15). This is a sure sign of desperation – which reveals their hearts are primed for the change they so desperately need.
  4. They remove the sin (vs 16). By “putting away the strange gods from among them”, God’s people take another step towards true repentance. It is one thing to mouth words… but another to take action to correct the injustice done.
  5. They served the Lord (vs 16). The final act of true repentance… making a concisive decision to return to the Lord and serve Him alone.

Whjen confronted with disaster, God’s people were being taught a valuable lesson. True repentance is not simply apologizing – but taking the necessary steps to correct the discretion and moving back into the right direction. In fact – the word ‘repentance’ means to “turn and move in the opposite way”.

The real question is… was this lesson learned?

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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