Day 3

The Lord Tests Israel

from the Judges reading plan


Judges 3:1-31, Psalm 91:1-16

Children rarely see discipline as an act of mercy. When I was young, I disobeyed my parents enough that when they revoked certain privileges or imposed other consequences, I did not consider what other, worse disciplinary action they could have taken against me. When a parent grounds his or her child for a week and revokes phone privileges for a day, the child rarely considers the discipline merciful. Why? Because children are naturally more distraught over the presence of any consequence than they are considerate of the fact that the consequence could have been ten times worse.

In Judges 3, we see God discipline His people, Israel, but in a merciful way. Their resulting disobedience shows that they did not fully grasp the grace of God in the work of God.

After Israel disobeyed God by not killing off all of the Canaanites He’d commanded them to eliminate, God could have punished His people by wiping them off the face of the earth. He could have sent nations of Gentiles to kill and enslave them immediately. But He didn’t. Why did God handle the disobedience of Israel this way? Scripture tells us, “This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before” (Judges 3:2).

Throughout the entire chapter, we see Israel repeatedly disobey God despite His mercy toward them. They find themselves in compromising situations because of their disobedience. They cry out to God, and in His mercy God delivers His people with a judge. Upon their deliverance and freedom from threat, Israel recedes into its patterns of disobedience and sin. This cycle continues throughout the chapter and throughout the book of Judges. Throughout its existence, God made clear to Israel that it was to maintain its purity and its holiness, yet despite His discipline and His mercy, they pursued their wants over God’s wisdom.

All of us are broken in some way. Our sin separates us from God and, apart from the cross, we are enslaved by our idolatry. In Judges, we see Israel’s continued cycle of self-destruction and disobedience. It’s the same cycle we find ourselves in if we do not cling to the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes the rules and wisdom of God may seem unattractive to us. At times we may be tempted by the wooing of worldly influences and idols like Israel was. In humility, we must maintain a posture of repentance that recognizes the mercy of God present in the commands of God.

Written by Chris Martin

Post Comments (4)

4 thoughts on "The Lord Tests Israel"

  1. Justin Clark says:

    It is up to me to stop the cycle by trusting in God!

  2. Kevin says:

    Day 3: Discipline has only started making sense recently. I know the power of taking things away that are important, but often times we deserve far worse than that. My sister really struggles with this idea that discipline comes out of love and not hate. I think we are punished because we are loved so much. We are believed in too much to not put forth our best. By God and those who love us. Ehud is wild haha. ⚒

  3. John says:

    As I read Judges 3, specifically verse 1, I was under the impression that God let certain nations survive so that God could use them to test Israel in the future and teach Israel about war- not that these nations survived because of Israel’s disobedience. I don’t know why God’s design would be to expose His people to war and teach them about war.

    I also don’t know if agree that God’s punishment of Israel was merciful. I would agree that the punishment could have been worse than being delivered in to the hands of the enemy for 8 and 18 years (it could have been for a longer time or permanent) . But just because a punishment could be worse doesn’t necessarily mean it is merciful. There was likely a lot of unimaginable suffering and death and injustice during the time Israel served its enemies.

    I also think the comparison of Israel’s punishment to a teenager being grounded or loosing some other privilege doesn’t fully appreciate the type of suffering and violence experienced by both sides in these battles. No doubt it was unimaginable.

    Ultimately, I struggle with how God punished and then saved Israel by war in the OT. The battles are often discussed in a sentence or two but there must have been so much suffering, pain, loss, hunger, slow death, horror, depraved violence, disease, etc. within these battles that isn’t recorded. I struggle to reconcile these punishments and battles with the teachings of Jesus.

    I’ve always wondered if Israel had the wars and then attributed their loss or win to God- just as religious people do today.

    Does any one else struggle with this? I’m eager to grow in understanding if others, or if the author of the devotional, can help me understand.

    -John

  4. Christopher says:

    God is just waiting for us with open arms but if we make him mad he gets mad at us. I feel like the rules that He has for me aren’t attractive and I sometimes I just play dumb and act like i dont know them. I never though forget about God because he is always with me. I just need to actively be searching for him.

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