And so it begins. Judges started out with a little transitional section between Joshua and Judges, and then we get into the tales of what each of them did.
Chapter three, though, begins with a few verses that I find really interesting.
These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience). ~ Judges 3:1-2
So why’s that interesting?
I don’t think anyone would deny that we endure trials and tests throughout our lives. It’s just part of going through it, but the thing that stuck out to me here was verse two – that there was a purpose behind the test.
I’d imagine that almost all of us have uttered the words, “Why me?” At some stage in our lives when dealing with a struggle that just didn’t seem to be fair. I can absolutely assure you that I’ve wondered that more times than I care to count.
I can’t help feeling, though, that one thing we can take from these two verses alone, is that there’s always something to learn. The Israelites had other nations and other kings to deal with for a reason, so that they’d learn and remember the requirements for warfare.
The thing is that they always had God on their side, but they still needed to be able to go into battle. God doesn’t baby us, he doesn’t sit there and wrap us in cotton wool so that we can never scratch ourselves. He doesn’t do everything for us. He won’t make us face something we can’t handle without his strength, definitely, but he will let us take a wander into a challenge that might look a bit daunting to us from the outside, because he knows that we can do it.
Why? Because how else do we grow? How else do we live? How else do we have a genuine relationship with him?
God is our father; our dad. He’s there to have a relationship with us. He wants to watch us grow up, he wants to watch us learn, experience, grow and develop.
Have you ever thought of God that way? We use the statements of God being a father all the time, but have you ever really stopped and thought about him as your dad?
Picture yourself as a child riding a bike without training wheels for the first time. You might fall and scratch yourself – God’s there as your dad, picking you up, kissing the wounded knee or elbow better, and then encouraging you to try again. Then when you actually succeed, he’s the one standing there, smiling proudly at you. He’s got his arms open as you get off the bike and run to him, proudly declaring, “I did it, Dad! I did it!”
But before then, you might fall off that bike a dozen times. And each time, he’s there, picking you up, helping you out, and encouraging you to try again.
The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their Gods. ~ Judges 3:5-6
The Israelites fell off the bike – and more than once. In the rest of Chapter 3, we get told the stories of Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar – three judges who God chose to rescue the Israelites after they fell into sin. God didn’t abandon them, he didn’t turn his back when they fell and scraped their knee, he gave them someone to help them get back on the bike, and encouraged them, “It’s okay. Try again.”