Judges 4:1-3 1 After Ehud died, the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD. 2 So the LORD sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. 3 Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the LORD for help.
I have the feeling verse 1 of this chapter is going to be a recurring theme in this book. C’mon people, really? I would understand if it said, “Israel made some mistakes, they blew it every now and then.” But evil? Geesh! Now when it says that the Lord sold them into the hands of a king, essentially He sold them over to their sin. A better way to put is they sold themselves over to their sin. It is what happens when we sell out, we choose sin over God’s ways and we step out of His covering. We know, of course, that God is loving and faithful and takes His people back again and again. So I am not surprised by the first few verses of this chapter.
I am, however, a bit disappointed in the motivation and timing of verse 3. It says that the Israelites cried to the Lord for help for the following reasons: nine hundred enemy chariots and twenty years of oppression. Don’t you think they waited kind of a long time to ask God for some help? Is there a reason they didn’t ask for help at 300 chariots and 5 years? Twenty years, people. That’s a long time! Think of the life they could have lived if they would have just asked for help sooner. Imagine the potential if they would have turned from their evil ways and returned to God. This is the human syndrome, though. We wait until things are so unbearable and we are in a place of desperation.
We should be crying out to the Lord for help regularly, not waiting until it all falls apart. I guess we could blame sin, though. That sin is a tricky little sucker. It moves in on you slowly, a little at a time. Then all of a sudden you realize you are a million miles from God and it feels like you will never make it back. And I wonder if the Israelites knew ten years into it that they were messed up. I wonder if they recognized it but felt it was too late to ask God for help. Twenty years… that’s a long time to wait. That’s a long time to be without God’s help. I don’t know about you, but for me twenty minutes is a stretch without God.
Let’s learn from the Israelites today. When our lives get derailed, let’s turn back to God in that very moment. He is ready to fight for us again. He is ready to love us and deliver us. He is waiting for us to ask.