Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.Judges 6:1
A tragic beginning to a triumphant tale. In time this season in the history of Israel would prove to be another testimony to the faithfulness of God. But unfortunately, it began with a painful reminder of the lack of faithfulness on the part of His people. Before diving into the story of Gideon we first need to reflect on the backdrop to this divine drama. We need to consider the circumstances that preempted the need for yet another deliverer. We need to focus in on the failures that gave birth to this time of crisis. We need to look at the real problem and the root causes that formed the foundation for this story. That’s where God started the story and that’s where we should begin as well.
The tribes of Israel had been experiencing a period of prolonged peace and rest. Judges 5 says it like this, “…the land was undisturbed for forty years.” But then tragedy set in. The cycle that so characterizes the book of Judges would be renewed as the people once more turned their backs on God and embraced idolatry. They returned to the gods of the Amorites as Baal and Asherah worship again became their religious practice. The Lord God had become an afterthought as the people placed their fear and trust in the false gods of the nations that surrounded them. The Bible sums it all up by simply declaring that “…the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord;” Definitely not their finest hour.
Now granted, none of us have probably ever worshipped Baal or Asherah. But there are still a couple of very important teaching points for us to consider here in this first verse:
1. They “…did what was evil…” No matter what our amoral world tries to tell us there is still such a thing as right and wrong, good and bad, righteous and evil. Bottom line? The Israelites’ actions were evil. Our actions do not exist in a moral vacuum. God judges what we do. And according to the standards that He has set forth in his Word our actions are either good or evil. Too many in the church today have bought the lie that what we do somehow doesn’t matter. Yes, we are forgiven in Christ. But grace was never meant to be a license for sin and evil.
2. They “…did what was evil in the sight of the Lord;…” How quickly we forget that God sees. Nothing that we do is hidden from His sight. God is not some school teacher who is oblivious to the pandemonium that takes place once their back is turned. He sees all. He knows all. Not a single one of our actions are obscured from His view. The Israelites paraded their evil actions without remorse or shame. If they were aware of God, they acted as if they could care less. Never forget. Be it good or be it bad, God sees everything we do. We live our lives in His sight.
3. The result? “…and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years.” My choices have consequences. What I do matters. If I am upset with the fruit in my life, then maybe I need to take a look at the root. The problems that plagued Israel were the fruit of their own choices. They abandoned God and God subsequently gave them over to the Midianites. The NT declares that we reap what we sow. Sow to the flesh and you will reap destruction. That is as much a promise from God as any other verse that we have highlighted in our Bibles. When my life is in chaos I need to be honest. How much of my pain is the fruit of my own ungodly choices? It’s a hard truth but sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. It’s easy to blame God. But the mark of maturity is when we begin to recognize our own sinful complicities, confess our failings, and ask for forgiveness.
Tired of some of the fruit in your life? Maybe it’s time you took a closer look at the roots. The story of Gideon is full of many wonderful lessons. But it all begins with a powerful reminder. God takes sin seriously. It’s not a game to Him. It shouldn’t be a game for me. My choices have consequences. My decisions influence my destiny. What I do matters.