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Forgetting and Neglecting

“And the Sons of Israel did not remember Yahweh their God who had saved them from the hand of all of their enemies which surrounded them and they did not show faithfulness to the Sons of Jeruba’al (Gideon) for all of the good things which he did for Israel.”

(Judges 8:34-35)

We have spoken before about the Biblical importance of memory. When the people remember the good works of God they remain faithful. But when the people forget, they fall into sin. And we see this pattern showing up over and over to us in the scriptures and in church history.

But remembering is not just the intellectual recognition that an event took place; remembering also reflects a life that has been influenced by those events that took place in the hopes that we not repeat the same errors that brought us to the condition we were in. Yet, how often we as a church are also near-sighted and forget God’s work amongst us to deliver us from the evil that lurks in our midst.

And, too, how often people forget the faithfulness of those who served them well. Gideon was far from perfect as a leader, but he was God’s chosen tool to deliver the people from their oppressors. In the same vein, pastors and church leaders, too, are not perfect. Yet, if they are faithful to God’s calling, they are deserving of the respect of those they serve — “double-honor” to use Paul’s language in 1 Timothy 5:17-19. Yet, how often have there been times when, for a single misstep, congregations have turned on their pastors like a pack of angry dogs. Such is the way of sin.

Unlike what we have seen with the previous judges, we do not shift immediately into the next cycle of leadership. Instead, we see a cycle within Gideon’s own house, where the sons will vie for position in Israel’s leadership (remember our earlier discussion of Gideon wanting to pass down his role to his sons). And sadly, it will be Abimelech who rises to the forefront…God’s punishment on Gideon’s household for their sin and arguably even God’s punishment on Israel for their forgetting…

Driving out the Nations; Crushing the Strongholds

“He drove out peoples under us;

Nations under our feet.”

(Psalm 47:4 {verse 3 in English Translations})

 

“The God of Peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet — the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

(Romans 16:20)

 

The Biblical testimony is consistently that if you remember the things that God has done for you in the past, that ought to help you remain faithful in the present. In other words, it is coming to terms with the principle that God has always shown himself faithful, why do you think that this particular crisis will prove to be any different. Historically, when the people remember their roots, God blesses them as they seek to pursue Him; when they forget, they fall into sin and disobedience — often in extreme ways.

In this case, the psalmist is looking back to the conquest of Canaan. A time when none of the opposing nations could stand before the people of Israel as they entered. Even that event, though, was marked by the disobedience of the people and ultimately some Canaanites remained in the land. God allowed them to remain to be a thorn and a snare (Judges 2:3) and to teach them war (Judges 3:2). Even so, it is God that established them in the land; it is God who is the warrior of Israel; and it is God that will cast out the nations before them. Had they been faithful to God in that task, things would have been quite different than they ended up.

Yet need we simply see this as an ancient mandate? By all means, no! The God we worship today is the same God that led Israel through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. He is quite capable of leading us through whatever situation and trials we face in our lives today. Granted, we are not facing wild tribes of Canaanites that want to kill us and whose cities we are to commit to destruction, but we are facing the devil who wants to kill us spiritually and whose strongholds in this world (including those in our lives) we are called to tear down (2 Corinthians 10:4; Matthew 16:18). Will you be faithful is putting these sins to death and tearing down the strongholds that they have created in your life? Will you engage the strongholds of sin in your community as well, seeking to marginalize their influence over your life, your family, your church, your school, your nation? Praise be to the God who crushes those strongholds underneath our feet.