“26 ‘But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies. 27 So you delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.28 ‘But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.” NIV
Where is your Bible? As you are reading these notes I assume it is not ‘behind your back’ (26). It certainly is of little use to you there. It needs to be where you can see it on a regular basis, and no-one has eyes in the back of his/her head. This passage speaks, of course, not merely about the ignoring of God’s truth, but wilful rebellion against it.
I remember Sid with great appreciation and fondness. He was a very ordinary working man who led the men’s Bible study at Wigan ‘Elim’ church when I was there in my teens. Only a handful attended this pre-morning service gathering, held in a small side room. Sid was not really a Bible teacher, but I do remember something he did and something he said.
Someone said ‘kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.’ Well, Sid was kind. He passed on to me his own copy of the ‘New Bible Commentary’. That action was a powerful sermon. It left a deep mark on my soul. It probably touched me more than anything he said. He could have spoken about kindness, and maybe he did, but how powerful is the memory of an act of kindness.
But I also remember him observing how Old Testament history is repetitive; it is cyclical in nature. The Israelites kept falling at the same fences. These verses demonstrate the point. They may refer mainly to the period of the ‘Judges’.
Here are a few timeless lessons from them:
- God answers prayer. Note especially how He answers the heartfelt cries of the truly repentant. No matter how many times we have messed up, we can return to God if we genuinely want to. Mercy there is great, and grace is free. Never forget it;
- God is full of compassion. He is the Father who is always scanning the horizon for the return of the prodigals;
- Human nature is weak. We also know what it is to repeatedly turn away from the God who is so generous towards us. F.B. Meyer writes helpfully: ‘What a picture this is of our own lives, and how often have all these experiences been repeated in us! Fortunately for us we are represented now, not by our promises and prayers, but by Jesus Christ, in whom we stand and are accepted and kept.’ Devotional Commentary, p.207.
‘’Who can tell the pleasure,
Who recount the treasure
By thy Word imparted
To the simple-hearted?’’ (From ‘Lord thy Word abideth).