Our Standard Achievement Test.
“I did this to test Israel – to see whether or not they would follow the ways of the Lord as their ancestors did.” – Judges 2:22 NASB
Have you ever wondered why God left you here? I mean, if heaven is so great (and I think it is!), then it seems like it would have made more sense for Jesus to take us to be with Him when He saved us. But for some reason He chose to leave us here. So we spend out lives living in a place that really isn’t conducive to Christ-likeness and where the inhabitants really don’t like us very much. Jesus Himself warned us that the world would hate us (John 15:19). And yet, we have to live and somehow survive here. He even expects us to thrive here. Why? Could it be that He wants to do the same thing for us that He was doing for the Israelites? God put them in a place where they were surrounded by enemies. The land He had given them as a possession was not void of conflict, but seemingly full of it. The Philistines, the Canaanites, the Sidonians, the Hivites… were all in the land. So what was God up to? He was testing them. Yes, He was punishing Israel for her infidelity, but there was more to it than that. He would use the presence of these nations to continue to test Israel’s allegiance. Each of these nations had their own gods and Israel would be constantly tempted to make those gods their own. Not only that, there would be a constant temptation to interact with and even intermarry with these nations – even though God had forbidden it.
So how did they do on the test? Well, not too well. Not only did the Israelites live among them, they intermarried with them and ended up worshiping their gods (Judges 3:5-6). But there was another test. God was allowing the enemy to remain in the land not only to punish Israel and tempt them, but to prepare them for battle. They were going to learn to fight. This generation was not battle-hardened or ready for war. So they would have to learn to fight. They still had land that needed to be conquered and to do so would require going to battle. That meant they would have to become warriors. You don’t really learn to be a soldier in boot camp or in peace time, but on the battlefield. And we learn to fight the spiritual battles in our lives not by learning the concepts of war, but by getting in the trenches and doing battle with the enemy. God left us here to test us, try us, and train us. He is using the trials of this life to teach us to trust Him, rely on Him, turn to Him, and to serve Him alone. God wants to reveal our weaknesses and display His power.
As we read through the history of the various judges of Israel, we see how the people of Israel did with the tests of life. And we see how God intervened and rescued them time and time again. He is always faithful. What an incredible reminder to us that God is with us in our daily battles with sin and temptation. He is testing us, but He is also fighting alongside us – showing us that He can be trusted for the victory we need in whatever conflict we find ourselves.
Father, thank You for allowing me to experiences the tests of life. Forgive me for the many times I fail, but continue to show me what You have to teach me. And continue to reveal Your power in the midst of my weakness and failure. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men