Our OT18 readings for today are Judges 10:1-11:11 and Jeremiah 23.
This devotional is about Judges 10:16b: “And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.”
The book of Judges recorded God’s relationship with Israel in the Promised Land before the era of the kings began. Israel was settled in the promised land but they still struggled to trust God and live according to his word. The result of their struggle was a cycle that repeated continuously throughout the book of Judges including here in our reading for today:
- Phase 1: Disobedience (10:6) to God’s word which led to:
- Phase 2: Defeat & oppression by their enemies as an act of God’s judgment (10:7-9).
- Phase 3: Repentance in which God’s people turned to him for relief from their enemies (10:10-16).
- Phase 4: Deliverance in which God sent a judge to give them victory over their enemies (11:1ff).
- Phase 5: Obedience (for a while) until they lapsed back into phase 1.
As the shampoo bottle says, “Rinse and repeat.”
Throughout all phases this cycle–and, in fact, at every stage in Israel’s history–God’s love for his people remained. He stayed committed to the covenant he had made with them even despite their disobedience and failure. Here in 10:11-14, God pushed back a bit on their repentance. He reminded them of all the times he had saved them after their repentance (v. 11) then told them to forget about it this time (v. 12) like a young girlfriend or boyfriend who says, “We’re never getting back together again.”
God’s compassion remained, despite his frustration and their suffering under the Ammonites got under God’s skin, too. As verse 16b put it, “And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.” Sin brings misery and suffering and, although God loves justice, he does not enjoy the suffering that his people endure for their sins. This is why he forgives us again and again and again when we repent. It is the infinite merits of Christ who lived as our righteousness and died as our sacrifice that keeps us in God’s good graces but it is also the incredible compassion of God that keeps him faithful to us as well.
Our sin struggles–meaning, our repeated failures despite good intentions–may cause us to wonder at times if God will ever stop forgiving us. That, in turn, may cause us to wonder if we should even bother repenting. This verse and many others in scripture teach us that God’s compassion and mercy is much greater than we can imagine. If you are in Christ, keep striving for holiness and don’t ever quit because you fear God’s displeasure. In Jesus we are accepted; his blood allows the ocean of God’s compassion to keep restoring us when we look to him.
So keep looking to him….