…The children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods. So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel… Judges 3:5-8
A Picture of Disobedience
Israel was at peace in the Promised Land when the Lord allowed a remnant of their enemies to flood back into the territory. God permitted such a thing to occur not to punish Israel, but to test them. Specifically, the Lord wanted to see if they would keep the His commandments. As fate would have it, Israel failed miserably.
At this juncture some might protest this wasn’t very fair of God, especially since being omniscient, He knew Israel would be unsuccessful in this test. The fact of the matter is that Israel brought this ordeal upon themselves when they failed to entirely destroy these enemies when previously directed to do so. Essentially, they were now reaping what was earlier sown—God is not mocked.
But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 20:16-18
An additional reason our Father allowed this scenario to play out is for our example. It is an absolute truth that experience is the best teacher, but God persistently tells His children, “But it doesn’t have to be YOUR experience.” Frankly, when we dwell amongst the enemy, give our sons and daughters away to them, and ultimately adopt their evil traditions, we have no excuse—the Christian knows beforehand where these things lead. For Israel, their insubordination (in this case) led to eight years of captivity. Likewise, when we disobey, we too walk ourselves into the identical predicament.
Salvation is Not Lost
When the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. Judges 3:9
If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, your salvation is not in jeopardy if you opt for this path of disobedience. As far as the Lord is concerned, all our transgressions are forgiven, even the ones we have yet to commit. To employ the Lord’s mercy all the sinner need do is repent—turn away from the perversity and turn towards the Healer. When this occurs, our Lord is faithful to deliver us—we are assured that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)
So the land had rest for forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died. And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. Judges 3:11-12
There is a critically important application being taught here. Why after forty years did Israel slip back into their evil ways? I submit to you that this saved generation did not pass along the lesson to the next generation. It reminds me of the modern Christian who is quite comfortable in his saved-state but refuses to share the Good News with anyone else. He’s found the cure, but selfishly hoards the remedy. Sure, his salvation is intact, but look at the casualties he leaves behind. Likely the cruelest thing a Christian can do is keeping Jesus Christ all to himself.
At this point I cannot help but ponder the situation in Haiti, a nation where the majority practices voodoo to some degree. Folks, we have found death’s cure in Christ Jesus and we have an obligation to share it. If we don’t, the Christian still goes to Heaven, but how, on that glorious day, can we look Jesus in the face and not be ashamed for our silence. Personally, I don’t want to be in that number.