“Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof… And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.” Judges 3:1-4
I like it easy. No stress. No sickness. Everything just peachy. But it’s not. Lurking around the edges of life are setbacks, trials, and disappointments, enemies that are waiting to rob me of all that God has promised me. Things like my righteousness, peace, and joy. If I’m like Israel, I’ll likely let him succeed.
Israel, too, was given promises. Promises that were anchored in the mighty power of God and His ability to perform…and the condition that they love, serve, and trust Him. That sounds a lot like God’s gifts to us: things far superior to what our human ability can achieve. But some of our promises are contingent upon how we handle the enemy. Israel didn’t do so well. They cohabitated. They compromised. They caved in. Therefore, God’s promises dangled before them, fingertips out of reach. And God left them there, waiting to see what Israel would do.
Generation after generation failed, keeping their poor habits and distancing themselves from the One who’d already proven His might and power. Consequently, they were oppressed. Only when their pain would become unbearable would they cry out to God--a cry that wasn’t for His help to change their way of life. It was a plea for temporary appeasement.
Their prayer evoked God’s help, and their desire for relief—though not complete victory--was granted.
Israel reminds me of myself. I’ve gotten into predicaments that were outside the realm of God’s will for my life by making the same missteps that Israel made. I’ve feared the enemy’s power and put up with him rather than confronting him with the knowledge that God’s power in me is much greater than his threats. I give up territory. Like Israel’s response, when he pushes closer, I have found myself aligning with him. Agreeing with his lies, believing what I shouldn’t believe, compromising, subsequently, losing more of God’s promise, little by little. And I’ve caved. I’ve given up in full surrender, changing my words or actions to accommodate him, thereby giving him control of situations that God had designed for my victory.
The decision is mine.
Whether I receive ALL that God has provided
or whether I forfeit the fullness of His promise is up to me.
God gives His Word, and He backs it up. Repeatedly, He proved to Israel He would fight for them, just like He has proven He is for us. In like manner, He permits a little resistance to come our way, and our hearts are uncovered. Are we serving Him merely for the victories, or are we serving Him because He is our choice? Our reactions to the test gives the answer. If that answer moves us away from trusting in God, then we have shifted our faith to ourselves and our ability to handle things our way. We have chosen a new master. God removes His protective barrier and what was our greatest strength becomes our weakest vulnerability.
See, Israel didn’t have chariots or horses. They didn’t need them. They had God. But when they thought they could do things without Him, they were sitting ducks, stranded on a waterless pond. They trusted themselves, but they were not equipped to handle the enemy through their own reasoning. The result was enemy pressure.
But when they cried out to God, He showed up—willing to fulfill His promise. Judges 10: 16 says, “And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the Lord: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” God YEARNED to rescue them, and His desire was to take them as far as they were willing to fight, yet no one stepped up to receive the fulfillment of all He had promised until King David ascended to the throne. David alone showed a full trust in God. It surpassed his weakness and failings, and it went beyond a desire for relief from oppression. His conquering mindset was founded on his relationship with God and a hunger to serve Him. He wanted everything God had promised…because that was what GOD wanted. So he fought. And God granted him the power to oust every enemy and claim the territory He had promised to Abraham.
When we finally realize that the enemy is not our friend, that he is not someone with whom we can negotiate, then we can tear our thoughts from their agreement with him. It dawns on us that we are not equipped for our battles, and in humility we see that the Warrior of Heaven is willing to be our defense, a wall of salvation around us. From this posture, we trust, and experience the liberty of His rescue. Then, if we let it, we employ that freedom to embrace more of God, to commit more fully to Him, and to grow more intimately aware of His heart. We welcome His transformation, allowing it to change our thought patterns and awaken our faith. Crowned royalty, we ride with Him, and experience the fullness of the victories God has promised.
Tip/Tidbit: Have you settled for relief, or are you eager to claim all that God has promised? He is faithful to His Word. Work with God to receive His best for your life. Choose one area that you have relinquished to the enemy, and stand up in God’s strength to reclaim what is rightfully yours.