Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Tue, 08/12/2009 – 14:43
Bible Book: Judges / Rigters
Chapter: 2
Verse: 11 – 23
Text: Judges 2:11-23

In this part of Scripture two lines present themselves. Two lines that are often visible in the Bible.

On the one hand there is the line of sin that results in punishment and suffering. Israel was committing the crime of serving the Baals (verse 12), and as a result they stopped serving God (verse 13). This angered God and He handed them over to their enemies (verse 14), so that they were “in great distress” (verse 15). One would think that Israel would soon “learn their lesson” and return to the Lord, but the rest of this section and the whole book of Judges report that they went from bad to worse. The next generation followed even more corrupt ways than their fathers (verse 19).

On the other hand there is the line of God’s involvement with and compassion for Israel. Verse 16 draws this line directly across the previous one. God helped his people by sending leaders who drove the enemy away. Verse 18 explains that the Lord did this because He had compassion for his unfaithful people who, by their stubborn ways, had brought so much suffering upon themselves.

Upon reading this section and the rest of the book of Judges, it may seem as if the line of sin and judgement weighs more than the line of God’s compassion. Upon looking around you and listening to how Christians talk, it sounds as if it is generally accepted that the line of sin and judgement has the final say. When people suffer, others seek the cause for it in sin. This often crops up in conversations about AIDS. “AIDS is God’s punishment for people who live immoral lives”, people say.

But the Bible doesn’t end with Judges. Paul cries out in Rom 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus himself warns the people in Luke 13:1-5 that they shouldn’t draw the line of a disaster back to those who are “worse sinners”.

Of course it remains true that the “wages of sin is death”. It is also true that the Bible repeatedly warns us that our unfaithfulness and stubbornness can bring great suffering to our lives.

The question is: is this truth a “stick to beat others” or a “staff to guide us”?

An exegete quite rightly states that the book of Judges helps us to understand our own sinful heart. He or she who knows his/her own sinful heart, will never be able to beat others with “you are only punished for your sins”, but will have compassion for those who suffer (comp Judges 2:18) – whatever the apparent reasons behind the suffering.

For in Christ God’s line of compassion has crossed the line of sin!

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English

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