Israel failed to drive all the Canaanites out of the land, and many of their enemies remained among them, albeit in the roles of slaves and servants. Yet, they remained, and along with them their ways and their gods. And the people would follow the false gods, and the Lord would discipline them, and they would pray to the Lord for deliverance, and the Lord would raise up a deliverer, a judge. But when that judge died, there they would go again, right back to the false gods. Amazing. But how typical of us, when we go back time and again to our own besetting sins.
Thinking about Israel, though, these years will be dark, the writer concluding, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). Questions come to mind. Will Israel ever learn the folly of disobeying God? Will she ever turn away from idolatry and the ways of the nations? Will she ever truly love the God who has done so much for her and rest peaceably in his care? Will God’s promises endure through the constant unfaithfulness of his people? Will the time ever come for the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15? At times, it seems as if the answers to these questions are always, “No.” But we know better and, as Peter reminds us, “Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness” (2 Peter 3:8-9). God’s promises are sure! We can live our lives with that confidence.
O magnify the Lord with me,
exalt his holy name;
when in distress to him I called,
he to my rescue came.
The hosts of God encamp around
the dwellings of the just;
deliv’rance he affords to all
who in his promise trust. –Anonymous (1754)