March 19, 2021
Daily Reading: Judges 3-5
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
So it begins. Israel's continuous cycle of downfall, repentance, deliverance, faithfulness, then downfall again. In today's reading there are three instances of this cycle highlighted. The first was the nation's bondage to Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: this lasted eight years. The second was Eglon, King of Moab, this time of bondage lasted eighteen years. The third was Jaban King of Canaan, and Sisera, Jaban's captain, they served Canaan for twenty years.
Do you see how each time Israel rebelled the term of servitude was longer. Eight years, then eighteen years, then twenty years. Each time there was a deliverance, but then each time the time of chastisement from the Lord was more severe.
In the New Testament we are warned about chastisement that comes into the life of every believer. Hebrews 12:6 tells us this clearly For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Chastisement is never easy, never fun, never welcome, but it comes to each of us at one time or another. The way the Lord chastens His children is probably as varied as His children are varied. As a father of three I know that each child responded differently to being corrected, what worked for one did not necessarily work for the others. God's children are no different. Sometimes it is the still small voice of the Holy Spirit that corrects us, sometimes it is the lack of prayers being answered, sometimes it is health issues, sometimes it is trouble in our lives. The mode of chastisement is different, but one thing remains the same. The chastisement seems to intensify until the lesson is learned.
I for one am glad for the chastening hand of the Lord. Why? Because it helps me to be right, act right, live right, speak right, and do right. Without the Lord letting me know that my behavior is inappropriate how would I ever change and be right? After all, who really wants to be wrong all the time? I had a lifetime of being wrong when I was young, my parents had to point out my wrongness from time to time and I'm glad they did. Not because I enjoyed the groundings or the taking away of privileges, but because I learned not to behave wrongly. I think of my boyhood shenanigans every time I read Hebrews 12:11: Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Israel's ongoing slippage into bondage is a warning to all that the chastening hand of God sometimes intensifies until we learn our lesson well. The next time you sense His correction, thank Him for it, asking Him to quickly let you learn the lesson so you do not have to take the test over and over again. Boy, I've been there too!
Until tomorrow, live for Christ today.