November 8th

Entreating God’s Heart

8From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years--all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead. 9Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed. 10And the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, "We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!" 11So the LORD said to the children of Israel, "Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? 12Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. 13Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. 14Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress." 15And the children of Israel said to the LORD, "We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray." 16So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.  Judges 10:8-16

Adversity often brings people to the point of realization that they are unable to run their lives without God.  The children of Israel endured 18 years of living without God.  They served the Baals and Ashtoreths, the gods of the native peoples of the land.  They did evil in God’s sight.  God had delivered the Israelites many times since bringing them into the Promised Land, and he was at the end of his patience with them.  He refused to deliver them this time. 

Instead of giving up, the Israelites continued to pursue God.  They confessed their sin, submitted themselves to God’s will and asked for deliverance. They proved their repentance was genuine by destroying the idols they had been worshipping and serving the Lord instead.  This final turn toward obedience and service entreated God’s heart and he decided to help the people.  

There are several applications we draw from this story for our lives.  Together, they build a picture of true repentance. 

·        Oppression and adversity can signal a need for confession and repentance: Israel endured oppression for 18 years, while they continued to live in rebellion against God.  At any point, they could have turned back to God, but they chose to continue in their self-indulgence.  Their bad choices exposed them to the attacks of the enemy.

·        Confession should be followed with re-submission to God:  Even when it looked like God would not help them, the Israelites again confessed and submitted to God.  Confessing our surrender to God verbally and backing it up with obedience proves the integrity of our desire to follow God. 

·        Submission to God is demonstrated through our actions:  Israel finally put away their idols and served the Lord.  This is an important combination, as if the people just put away their idols, they would likely have fallen back into rebellion.  Through serving the Lord, they filled the spiritual void that the removal of the idols created. 

·        True repentance touches God’s merciful heart and can even change his mind: God has a soft spot in his heart for those who are determined to pursue him.  When we put off our sinful habits, submit to God’s will and serve him we will find favor with him…no matter how badly we have previously behaved.  

God’s compassion for us was ultimately proven at the cross.  He allowed his Son, Jesus to be brutally executed for our sin. Through faith in Jesus, we receive supernatural power to live a new life, free from the bondage of sin.  When we make Jesus “Lord” over our lives, we must turn from our sinful habits, put away any idols we’ve been serving and obey God.  If we have backslidden, we must seek him even more earnestly, and prove our repentance by our actions.  If our repentance is sincere, God will meet us in our distress and deliver us.  

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for proving your great love and mercy for me by sending Jesus to die for my sins.  I thank you that you are God and that you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you.  I confess that I have half-heartedly followed you in the past; that I have tolerated the repeated sins of ____________(list).  I turn from those sins and any idols associated with them and commit to following you.  Holy Spirit, please convict me of the things associated with this past sin that I need to get rid of.  Please reveal the path of righteousness to me, so that I may walk in purity.  Thank you, Father!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”