Reading through the book of Judges is harrowing by any account. One wonders how Israel could get so confused and disordered so fast. Indeed, the various records show such violence, debauchery, twisted thinking and abandonment of the principles contained in the Mosaic covenant under which they lived – as to boggle the mind. By the time you get to chapter 18 you read: “And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up Micah’s carved image that he made, as long as the house of God was at Shiloh.” Moses’ grandson is carrying out the priesthood accommodating carved images. Imagine.
The reason behind this is not hard to dig out however. It’s spelled out in the closing verses of Joshua: “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel.” When people have no personal experience with God, no matter how clear and wise the laws which are supposed to govern them may be, they inevitably fall into the condition the author of Judges notes: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” We become a law unto ourselves – according to our own wants, desires, opinions and fallen wisdom.
So all that you read in Judges goes on in one tragic story after another. And you come away wondering – even given all of God’s chastening efforts – why didn’t He just wipe them out? Why not bring justice with its full force upon them long before the following centuries of continued disobedience and sinfulness?
The answer to that isn’t hard to dig out either: It is “the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience” with the aim that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
Oh the unimaginable patience of God in the way He deals with His people and their sins. With you and me. If it were not so, who of us would last a moment? And how that patience has continued for millennia as the Gospel is given continued, undeserved room to gather in more and more souls – even as the Spirit is given more and more room to continually fit Believers better for Heaven.
What a patient, kind, and gracious God He is. How He delays His justice. Not a justice which will at all in the end be denied. But a justice painted upon the blindingly glorious backdrop of grace.
Failing, weary Believer – rejoice in it.
Hesitating, rebellious sinner – rejoice that even as you read this, such patience has kept you alive one more day to hear and obey the Gospel and come to Christ. But do not doubt it, though His justice is delayed, it will not be denied. Now is the day of grace.
I beg you, don’t let it pass you by.