Judges 3:12-14, “12 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. 14 The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.”
In verse 12 we see the “sons of Israel turning from the Lord.” In Judges 2 a new generation grew up that didn’t know the great works of the Lord, and in Judges 3 the pattern continues.
In verse 13 there is the reference to “city of palm trees” which is a reference to Jericho, which was the first city taken in the book of Joshua as the walls come tumbling down. But, in verse 13 we see Jericho has been lost.
Then, in verse 14 we see Israel has been living under the oppression of King Eglon for 18 years. 18 years! King Eglon is an enemy king of Israel. He brings oppression upon the people of Israel for 18 years. Imagine your life under oppression for 18-years? Imagine wondering where you are going to find food for 18-years? Imagine wondering if your family is going to be hurt for 18-years? It must have been horrible.
But, the key verse to see in verse 12 is the phrase, “The Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel.” Do you see that at the end verse 12?
Yes, the city of Jericho has been lost, and yes the people of Israel have been living under oppression, and yes it is at the hand of an enemy king, but all of these events are taking place because, “The Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel.”
I am sure there are some of us are thinking, “But, I thought the Lord is loving, compassionate and kind?” I thought if you buy those words at Hobby Lobby it meant the Lord has to bring goodness into your life no matter what?
But, you need to understand in Judges 3 Israel is consistently, willfully, and habitually turning away from the Lord. This isn’t the one time Israel turns from the Lord and the Lord’s response is, “Eglon King of Moab!”
This is the sons of Israel turning from the Lord over and over and over and over and over, so that when the sons of Israel are turning from the Lord the most loving response He could bring is to “strengthen Eglon king of Moab against Israel.”
Please know, this isn’t because God is being mean. This isn’t because the God of Scripture in the Old Testament is full of wrath. In fact, it is just the opposite.
If the God of Scripture was just full of wrath then the God of Scripture could have easily walked away from Israel, but the most loving response is to bring consequences for their sin.
It is as if the God of Scripture is jumping up and down saying, “Wake up, you are turning toward death. You are heading for a cliff. Look over here!”
Often times in life we assume that because we don’t see the consequences for our sin immediately then it must not matter to the God of Scripture, but the Apostle Peter writes, “Do not mistake His patience for indifference.” (2 Peter 3)
The fact that we don’t see the immediate harvest of “turning from the Lord” doesn’t mean the God of Scripture doesn’t care. It means He is being patient. It means the Spirit is working in our lives to lead us to repentance.
Pastorally I can tell you one of the scariest things for me is when I sit down with someone, and through our conversations they clearly see their sin, agree it is sin, and agree it is happening over and over and over, and then they say these words, “I don’t care. I am going to do it or say it or think it anyway.”
It is in those moments it takes everything in me not to look around and start to back up because they are living out what we are reading in Judges 3, and at some point, because the God of Scripture is loving, consequences are going to come.