So, following up on our reflections about living with enemies/challenges. Why is it that God sometimes allows us to live with enemies/challenges? The book of Judges gives us some insight. Here are three possible reasons we see there.
1. Because of our own disobedience (Judges 2:1-3)
“The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”
Israel chose to make covenants with those God instructed they should not. Note that we cannot be delivered from that which we choose to embrace.
2. To teach us how to engage in warfare (Judges 3:1-3)
“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath.”
The only way for us to learn to fight is to engage in battle. We do not learn warfare in times of peace but rather in times of war. Someone wrote recently in the newspaper “We only learn to manage a crisis in the crisis.”
3. To test our obedience (Judges 3:4)
“They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord’s commands, which he had given their ancestors through Moses.”
The quality of our walk with God and the depth of our commitment to Him is not most evident in the good times, but in the times of challenge and struggle.
Isn’t it true, as we reflect on our lives, that we often discover that our periods of greatest challenge were often our periods of our greatest growth. Perhaps this is one way we can look at our current circumstances. While only God alone can confirm this is his judgment on an evil world, we cannot help but reflect on the current moral state of the world in which we live, and consider the grief it has brought to the heart of God. Whether that is so or not however, it provides us with an opportunity to learn to plant our feet in God and to struggle against this, and the other enemies that confront us. Likewise, we can make a choice of faithfulness to God no what we face. It is easy to be faithful when all is well, but a challenge to be faithful in the midst of a crisis.