Marauders Test Mettle
(Judges 2:7, 10-23; 3:1-31)
Shamgar, Son of Anath
by James Tissot
As we enter the book of Judges, our Bible reading for today is briefer, but action-packed.
Joshua and the patriarchal generation were dead, and the people left the legacy of faith they had received, along with the blessing of the Lord’s power and protection.
“The Lord had brought their ancestors out of Egypt,
and they had worshiped Him.
But now the Israelites stopped worshiping the Lord
and worshiped the idols of Baal and Astarte,
as well as the idols of other gods from nearby nations.
“The Lord was so angry at the Israelites
that He let other nations raid Israel
and steal their crops and other possessions.
Enemies were everywhere,
and the Lord always let them defeat Israel in battle.
The Lord had warned Israel He would do this,
and now the Israelites were miserable.”
Why did the Lord remove His hand of victory from His people?
This is a test.
God told the people that He allowed enemies to assail them as a means of testing their faith and obedience.
“Then the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel;
and He said,
‘Because this nation has transgressed My covenant
which I commanded their fathers,
and has not heeded My voice,
I also will no longer drive out before them
any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,
so that through them I may test Israel,
whether they will keep the ways of the Lord,
to walk in them as their fathers kept them,
(Judges 2:20-22, NKVJ, emphasis added)
What can we learn from the experience of the people of Israel? Without blaming others who may be enduring trials, testing and other troubles, can we identify any struggles in our own lives that may actually be God’s way of testing our faith and obedience?
This is training for battle.
The Word of the Lord also indicates that He allowed Israel’s enemies to remain among them as a means of preparing and practicing them for battle.
“He did this to teach warfare
to generations of Israelites
who had no experience in battle.”
Although this generation’s ancestors had learned military tactics and strengths by firsthand experience, their children had not. The Lord knew His people would need to be ready to fight foreign threats in their land, so He permitted circumstances for them to practice their martial arts.
What experiences might God be placing in our own lives that, though trying, may prepare us for tougher times to come? What testimonies from the past might we share, in which the Lord allowed difficult people or events to build us for tribulations we later faced?
Deliverance did come.
Eventually, the people of Israel called upon the Name of the Lord once more, and He sent Spirit-filled heroes to lead them to victory. Othniel spearheaded the defeat of Aram’s king. The southpaw Ehud slew Moab’s King Eglon with his double-edged sword, and strongman Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad.
Surely, God can do mighty works through a single person who is fully faithful to Him.
How might the Lord like to use us today? Are we willing to allow Him to fill us with His mighty power?
Will you pray with me?
The only ever-true God,
We struggle with trials and tribulation.
Reveal to us
How You may be testing us
Or preparing us
To join Your purposes
In our lands.
Call our hearts to You.
Find us faithful,
And fill us with Your power
To participate in Your work
We are humbled
To be called Your people.
Make us worthy of Your calling,
As only You can do.