It’s Time To Come Back
“10 And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!” 11 So the Lord said to the children of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? 12 Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. 13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. 14 “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.” 15 And the children of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.” 16 So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. And His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”
The Israelites had several judges. The last one prior to this scripture was Jair who judged for twenty-two years. We know that when we have judges, they will listen to and decide cases in a court of law. This brings a sense of order to our society. Yet we see after Jair died, the Israelites once again turned their backs on God and went back to serving other gods. This angered God greatly because after all He had done for the Israelites, they continued to betray Him and turn to other gods that can do nothing for them.
In reality, don’t we do the same thing as the Israelites, following the same pattern? We fall into sin, become oppressed, cry out to God, He rescues us, we follow Him, and in time, fall back into the same sin again (another god) and repeat the pattern all over again. We allow ourselves to continuously become oppressed with our sin. Yet, there are times, as we see in verses 7-9, that God allows some oppression to come upon us due to our sinful ways:
“So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. 8 From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years—all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead. 9 Moreover the people of Ammon crossed over the Jordan to fight against Judah also, against Benjamin, and against the house of Ephraim, so that Israel was severely distressed.”
So now the question is…If God is such a loving God, then why would He willingly sell the Israelites into the hands of another people to become oppressed and harassed? Because as we see in previous scriptures, the Israelites are stiff-necked and stubborn people. They repeat the same patterns over and over. As many times as God has had to rescue them from oppression they brought on themselves, they still continue to follow their flesh, turn away and walk in the wrong direction. They continue not to listen to what God tells them to do and the minute there is no one around to keep them in line or accountable, their hearts change and they fall back into their old ways. As hard as it is, there are times we have to show tough love to others. There are some people that no matter how many times you help them, they will repeatedly fall back into the same sin that continues to oppress them be it drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sexual immorality, food, etc. They become dependent on these things to help them to overcome their emotions and problems they don’t want to deal with, only to get deeper into their bondage. Why? Because it’s easier to numb the pain and forget about the issue than to face it, walk through it and overcome it. For some, it’s easier to stay on a computer or their cellphones and occupy their minds rather than have to think about their situation or problem and face it. We may not stand in front of statues and worship them as in biblical times, but we sit in front of tv’s, computers, cellphones, alcohol, drugs, food, other people, and turn our lives over to them. We allow these things to control us and we freely give ourselves over to them, becoming deeper and deeper in bondage. There comes a time, when we see the pattern continuing, where we must pull back and allow the person to feel the pain, yet always keeping on eye on them (as God does with us). This doesn’t mean we stop loving them or helping them in ways, but it does mean we stop enabling them and their habits. It’s our fear and lack of trust in God that allows us to continue enabling them and bailing them out. And yes, it’s our love for them as well. But we have to realize that as humans, there is only so much we can do to help someone. We can’t fix them, though we like to think we can. Bailing a person out of every situation isn’t fixing them. It’s hindering them and making them weaker. What we can do is walk through it with them, pray for them, encourage them and be there to listen but they must be the ones to do the work in the healing process. The only way they will become stronger is by battling each temptation and problem head on and they will receive the strength and endurance to do this through Jesus Christ.
God is the only one who can truly break us free from our addictions and issues completely. When we turn to God and follow what His Word says, working on it daily, only then can we switch our label from “recovering addict” to “healed”. This doesn’t mean we will never be tempted by the things that once held us in bondage, but what it does mean is that we will have the strength to turn away from it and keep moving. When God heals, He doesn’t partially heal. He heals completely. Our job is to follow what He tells us to do and then continue maintaining that healing through prayer, reading and applying the Bible in our lives and surrendering to Him as it states in James 4:7:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
We don’t truly understand the healing power of the scriptures nor the power of God for that matter. It’s not until we begin having that personal relationship with Christ and applying the scriptures to our situations on a daily basis that we will begin to see just how powerful a God we have on our side. The problem is that we don’t believe it will work which means we lack faith. Or if we do give God and His Word a chance and see no improvement within a week or two, we begin to doubt and lose faith. No serious illness or wound is healed in a day or two. The more serious illnesses and wounds can take months to recover from and the same goes for our addictions and emotional wounds. It takes time and we will have our ups and downs but when we continue walking through it and applying the medication…which the Word of God…we will get better. We will overcome because as Christ is victorious, so are we.
As we continue reading the main scripture, we see just how profound God’s love is for His people. Yes, God was angry and He pulled away and allowed them to be oppressed for a time in hopes they would come to their senses and realize how good they had it when He was with them. But when He saw they realized and admitted their sin and began changing their ways, getting rid of all their gods and worshiping Him, He couldn’t stand Israel’s misery any longer. He relented and delivered them from their oppression once again. We can definitely identify with how God feels in the main scripture. How many times have we given our love to someone only to have them betray us and find someone they consider to be better. How many times have we been there for someone day and night, helping them through their problems only to have them either go back to the problem or turn to someone else, leaving us behind. How many times have we pulled away from someone due to their patterns only to relent and accept them back again only to have them return to the same old patterns after a while. Through this, we can only get a glimpse of the pain and the frustration God must feel in dealing with us. Yet, because we now get that glimpse, we must be careful not to do the same to God. We must realize how good we have it when God is with us and not take Him for granted. We must give Him the same love and attention that we want from Him. We must be obedient to His Word because it will keep us safe and healthy. This doesn’t mean we won’t encounter problems or feel pain, but it does mean we will overcome the obstacles and problems through Christ.
What will it take for us to stop turning our backs on God and realizing how good we have it when He’s in our lives? We can see through scripture that when we fall into sin and God pulls back, we will become oppressed, miserable and defeated. But when we turn to God, become obedient to His Word and only give Him the same love and attention that we seek, we will have much fuller and prosperous lives. Yet, as we see on the news, read in the newspapers and even see in person on a daily basis, many are turning away from God more and turning to other “gods”. We can see from biblical history that when the people turned away from God, eventually God pulled back and oppression from other nations came. We must learn from history and from others who’ve been through it. We must look at our own lives and determine the changes that need to be made before it’s too late. This could be the final warning call.
All God is waiting for is for us to admit our guilt, repent and begin turning away from our sin. What is holding you back from doing this? Is your sin too great? Maybe for you but not for God. Is your addiction too powerful? Maybe for you but not for God! Is your wound and pain beyond repair? Maybe for you but not for God!
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Don’t let another day go by separated from God. True, nothing can separate us from God’s love, but we can separate ourselves from God. God loves you and is calling you back to Him. Go to Him now, ask for forgiveness and healing and for Him to come into your life. Then remain committed to your relationship with Him as you would with anyone else. You won’t regret it!
Lord, I repent of my sins and for turning to other “gods” when I should be worshiping You. Forgive me for not being as committed to you as I should. Forgive me for not giving you the time you want from me just to have a relationship with me. Forgive me, Lord, for turning away from you. Lord, give me the strength to turn away from those things that want to steal my time from you. Help me to recognize them and turn away from them. I want you in every part of my life because I know you will love me unconditionally, provide for me, heal me and always be there for me. Hear my prayers on this day, Oh Lord, and help me to change my ways. I ask this in Jesus name…Amen