FBP STUDENTS have been going through the book of Judges on Wednesday nights in a series titled The Gospel According to Judges. In the stories of each judge, we see the same repetitious cycle: 1) The people of Israel do evil in the sight of the Lord and forget his ways; 2) God’s anger is kindled against his people, and they fall under the oppression of a foreign power; 3) After a period of time, Israel cries out to the Lord in repentance; 4) God hears their cries and raises up a deliverer to save them; 5) Peace reigns in the land.
Isn’t this cycle kind of similar to our own spiritual lives? Our annual Winter Retreat was February 16-18, and we had a truly amazing time! We worshipped and fellowshipped together. God unified us as friends and fellow Christians, and many of us experienced a deepening of our love and devotion to Christ. It would definitely be considered one of those “mountain top” experiences. But as Christians, we are not meant to live on the mountain top. As the days and weeks go by, the spiritual high begins to wane with the return to normalcy. At this point, there’s a tendency for students, and all of us if we’re honest, to draw distant from the Lord.
As we look at Judges, specifically Judges 3:7-11, I believe we find a blueprint for spiritual revival that can help us rise from our spiritual doldrums. First in verse 8, God sells Israel into the hands of the king of Mesopotamia. Why did he do this? Well, Judges 2:22 tells us – “in order to test Israel…, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” Sin may creep into our lives causing distance between us and the Lord. But as God’s children, he will lovingly discipline us to bring us back to himself. When our spiritual lives are sluggish, and idols take hold of our hearts, the Lord disciplines us to test us and awaken our faith.
Second, after eight years of slavery, Israel finally wakes up and repents of their wickedness in 3:9. It’s God’s goodness, even in the form of trials, that leads us to repentance. True repentance means we acknowledge our sin for what it truly is; we have godly sorrow over that sin, we confess it, we hate it, and turn from our sinful patterns. Having turned from sin for good, we now turn to Christ to live a life pleasing to him, in holiness and for his glory.
Third, God hears the cries of his people and raises up Othniel. Not only was he Israel’s savior but verse 10 tells us the Spirit of the Lord was upon him. Accompanied by our repentance is the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our life. Revival and spiritual awakening will not take place apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A Spirit-filled Othniel defeated the enemies of God.
When the Spirit is at work in the lives of believers, we can go to battle against our enemies – Satan, sin, and the temptations of the world – and be victorious. Hebrews 12:4 says, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” In the power of the Spirit, let us strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14), and rest in the peace that God gives those who are forgiven of their sin.