"These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): 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 Hammath. 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." Judges 3:1-4
I began reading the book of Judges, and I must say that the Israelites sure were a "wishy-washy" group of people. After all, God had called them out at His chosen people. He promised them a land that flowed with milk and honey. He rescued them from captivity, protected them from their enemies, and blessed them with many descendants. Yet, the Israelites continue to forget God's goodness and turn from Him over and over again. In Judges 3, God tested the Israelites with other nations that would prove to be a thorn in their side. But God's test had a purpose: to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands that had been handed down from Moses. In Judges 3:7, we find out that the Israelites failed miserably by serving false gods. They cried out to God, and He heard their cries. God raised up a deliverer, Othniel. Judges 3:10 says, "The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel's judge and went to war." Othniel experienced success because God blessed him with His presence. Not only did he experience success in the wars that God used to test the Israelites but he also experienced peace. Judges 3:11 says that he and Israel experience peace for forty years!
God's way = peace. Man's way = disaster. As I read this story of Israel's struggles in the book of Judges, I can't help but think about our world today. In my opinion, we seem to be failing the tests more than we are passing them. We've got a lot of smart leaders trying to make decisions based on human understanding and man-made laws that completely go against the laws of the Creator. Haven't we seen from history that man's ways don't work? Why do we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, much like Israel in the book of Judges? God continues to be with us. He has kept His promise: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." But I believe that God continues to test us. He continues to test us to see if we will obey the Lord's commands. Not only do we face tests as nations but we also face tests as individuals. Before we are quick to judge this country or that country, we may want to take a look in the mirror. We may want to look back on our own lives. God has tested me time and time again, and I have to admit that I have failed many tests. I failed, not because God didn't love me or give me a chance. I failed because of my reckless disobedience to Him. I failed because of my own selfishness. I cannot change my past. It is gone. Yes, I can learn from it, but I don't won't to dwell on it. Today is a new day, and as I continue to study God's Word, I believe I will face new tests. I am praying that God's Spirit will be with me and give me the strength I need to pass the tests that come my way. I am praying for success and peace in my life, and I know that true success and true peace only comes from God. I cling to His promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me.