What Happened?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, March 29, 2016 0 comments

by Bill Seng

"The Lord was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the hill country, but were unable to drive the people from the plains, because they had iron chariots." ~Judges 1:19

Let's be honest, this is a difficult Scripture to deal with. God was with Judah, but they could not take all of the land because the people of the plains had iron chariots? Since when did the weapons used by men hinder the Lord Most High? Very bizarre and troublesome. How is it that the Lord can be with us and yet we fail to accomplish our goal?

Let's first rule out that some sort of sin prevented them from taking the plain. No sin is mentioned up to this point. In fact, it is possible that their faith may have began to waver after this failure. It is seen that the Israelites started enslaving some of the land's inhabitants instead of driving them out. Could it be that the Israelites started to question the power of their God? Was God not powerful enough to overcome a vehicle as basic as a chariot?

Something had changed. What changed? I honestly haven't a clue. I'm sure there are plenty of theories, but I can't recall any text that tells us why the assault on the plains failed. Without spoiling too much, I believe it could have been a lack of effort or fear that prevented Judah from taking the plain. Chariots, in those days, were formidable. An iron chariot would have been almost the equivalent of a tank. It would be very difficult to challenge a chariot on level ground. But God would later use this failure for his glory.

Notice that Judah is not even rebuked for falling short in this endeavor. The story continues by detailing what land the other tribes of Israel were conquering. Judah fell short, but it appears that God's grace was enough to sustain them in their weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Even if we don't want to admit it, we frequently fall short of God's perfect standard. Years back, I went on a retreat with a Bible fellowship in Cleveland.  It was the first one that I had been on, and students were given the opportunity to present a devotion one time in the course of the weekend retreat. I volunteered to do so. I was excited, I had a lot to say, and I had the presence of God with me. IT WAS A DISASTER! The message was unorganized, poorly planned, and lacked any sort of connection to the weekend's theme. I had zeal and God was with me, but He had other purposes for that mess.

When things don't go our way, we need to:
1) Learn from our failure. If Judah’s fear hindered their success, they had to learn that their fear was without merit. (Proverbs 15:22)
2) Humble ourselves. When we experience success, as Israel had done all the way up to that point, it is easy to become puffed up with pride. (Matthew 23:12)
3) Trust in God's promises. God told the Israelites what he would do for them and apparently it was not the right time. God answers every prayer, but not always with a “yes.” In relation to his promises, God will not say “no” to those who are faithful, but he might say “wait longer.” As you will later see in Judges, that is precisely God's answer in this instance. Cling to God's promises and remain faithful. (Hebrews 10:36)

Whoever said that the way God does things needs to make sense to us? His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Our failure is never his failure. We need to always keep in mind that what may appear as a disaster to us could be part of the masterpiece of God's plan.

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