“And the nose of Yahweh burned against Israel and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Sons of Amon. They subjugated and oppressed the Sons of Israel in that year — even for eighteen years all of the Sons of Israel who are beyond the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, which is Gilead. And the Sons of Amon crossed the Jordan to also wage war in Judah and in Benjamin and in the house of Ephriam. And Israel was enveloped.”
Just as the idolatry of the people during this cycle was excessive, so is the punishment of the people. God brings down the Philistines from the north, the Amorites from the north-east, and the Amonites from the east to subjugate and oppress Israel, this time for 18 years. And so, for nearly as many years as Jair had brought peace to the land, now there is oppression and misery. And why? God’s people had turned from serving their God to serve the gods of the pagan nations. And, if there is one thing that makes God angry, this, my friends, is it.
While the anger of God toward sin is always justified, the patience of God toward our sin never is — but is given entirely as a matter of God’s grace. He suffers long with his people so that when we do fall into sin for which discipline is necessary, we are left without excuse. And indeed that can be said of the people of Israel.
What is sad is that as I look over the landscape of the church in the west, I find myself wondering whether we are not in exactly the same situation and whether we are overdue for judgment and even wrath. Many times people like to apply this in the context of nations, and I agree that there is a place for that, but it is in the life of Christ’s church that God has deemed proper to work. Yet, when the church imports pagan ideas, tolerates practices that are contrary to the Bible, and condones human invention rather than divine decree, what else should we expect but the hand of God to bring discipline?
How often the church remains silent when it comes to matters of truth. It does not matter the reasons why. It might be done in the name of ecumenicity, tolerance, courtesy, tolerance, liberty, or plurality, but all of these things are the idols of the nations. If we genuinely believe our Bibles that God is the God of the heavens, that he created all things, and that he alone is God, then why put up with such nonsense? And if we really believe that it is under the name of Christ alone that we can be saved from eternal judgment, why would we not tell others and proclaim it from the mountaintops no matter the costs? We too (as the church) are worthy of the judgment of God and the oppression of the pagan nations, and I think that this is what it is that we are seeing as people from our congregations are fleeing to the Synagogues of Satan in our midst where their ears can be tickled and their lusts for entertainment can be slaked. What is the solution? Truth and truth without compromise. Will we champion that? Can we do anything other?