“And the LORD said to the people of Israel, ‘Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? … Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more.’” (Judges 10:11, 13)
After Joshua died, the people of Israel were ruled by judges. So long as the judge was alive, the people would follow God, and their land would have peace. But after the judge died, the people would once again turn to false gods. They would see what their neighbors were doing and would copy them, doing exactly what God had warned them not to do. Every time they did this, God would allow a foreign nation to conquer them. For years, they would serve that nation as slaves until they finally realized their sin and repented. Then God would raise up another judge, who would deliver them once again. So long as he lived, the people would follow God. But when he died, the cycle would begin again. Decade upon decade, generation upon generation, the Israelites continuously rebelled and repented, rebelled and repented. No matter how many times they promised to follow God forever, they consistently broke that vow and disobeyed.
If I were in charge, I think I would have completely decimated the Israelites about the third time they rebelled. Just reading the list of nations God had already delivered them from makes me so frustrated with them. He had saved them from
- The Egyptians
- The Amorites
- The Ammonites
- The Philistines
- The Sidonians
- The Amalekites
- The Maonites
…that’s not even a complete list! God just gave the highlights! And now, here the people were again, begging for deliverance after having once again rebelled. God’s answer served them right—“I will save you no more.”
But… God is God. Even when He’s angry with us, He still loves us. The Israelites were truly sorry for what they had done, and they proved it by putting away their foreign gods and worshipping God with a whole heart. When He saw that they really had repented, He immediately moved to rescue them. Once again, He raised up a judge to lead the people out of slavery.
It’s incredible to see how patient God truly is. When we read the Old Testament, it’s startling to realize that the people of Israel are actually still alive. But that’s God for you. When He chose Abraham’s people to be His own, He made a covenant with them—and He’s not about to break it. Whenever the Israelites rebelled, God was waiting for them to return. No matter how many times they went through that cycle of sin, slavery, supplication, salvation, and safety, God was there, ready to act.
He’s still the same way today. How many times are we like the Israelites, doing things our own way and not caring about what God thinks until we suddenly find ourselves in a terrible position and realize we need Him? And how many times has He delivered us out of those situations? It’s humbling to think about. How blessed we are to have a patient God!