Something that I hear/see a lot when people question God is, “If God exists, why did so-and-so die?” Or, “If God exists, why did he let me get fired from my job?” Questions along those lines are very common. If we don’t learn about God’s character, we can’t begin to understand the answers to these questions (although we will never completely understand the answers to all of life’s questions and all of God, like I said in my last post).
These questions suggest that we humans are owed something from God. That we deserve the best and if we don’t live in a perfect world with no trouble…well, where is God? He must not exist. This is what has been on my mind while reading the book of Judges.
“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of The Lord…he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim.” -Judges 3:7
In this book of The Bible, Israel is facing a hard time because Joshua, their latest leader, has just died. God spoke to Israel through Joshua, and they don’t have that anymore. They don’t have a strong leader to guide them. As a result, they have allowed the culture around them to influence them and drag them into sin. They forgot all that The Lord had done for them, and failed to teach their children about it. In the past when the Israelites were serving God, He constantly fought for them and delivered their enemies into their hands.
The Israelites were God’s chosen people. He loved them fiercely, and had been fighting for them for decades. He made a covenant with them and promised them “land flowing with milk and honey.” All of that, a little slipping up on Israel’s part, and God just lets their enemies take over? Really? Yes, really.
God cannot intervene where His presence is not welcome.
He is the opposite of us–completely holy and sinless. He can’t share a place with evil. He literally cannot, in spite of His crazy love for the Israelites.
“You cannot drink from the cup of The Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at The Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too.” -1 Corinthians 10:21
So if the Israelites were in sin and serving other gods, God had to sell them to their enemies because He can’t live where evil also lives.
Let’s face it: we live in a world that overall is sold out to sin and rejects God. The evil in this world is not God’s response to not loving us and it isn’t proof that God doesn’t exist. It’s because of us. It’s our choice. We have free will, so we can’t just blame a Holy and loving God for evil. God is good 100% of the time, but we are human and we are simply…not good. Because of that, we have consequences to face.
So I guess we’re all screwed. That’s the end, right? Heck no it isn’t.
Going back to Judges, after God delivered the Israelites to their enemy, the story takes a turn only 2 verses later:
“But when they cried out to The Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer.” -Judges 3:9
Isn’t it crazy how they completely disowned, disobeyed, and disrespected God, but the moment they cried out to Him, He met them where they were and picked them up again? No strings attached, no conditions, and no condemnation. He did it time and time again for the Israelites, and He will do it time and time again for us. God’s mercy never, ever ends.
He wants to do that for us, for you, now. When we cry out to God, realizing we need Him and have turned from Him, He never hesitates to answer us, regardless of where we’ve been or what we’ve done! We are sinful creatures by nature, and that separates us from our Holy God, as I said earlier. Because we can never measure up to God’s holiness, He did sometimes completely amazing to bring us into fellowship with Him since He loves us so fiercely.
He send His Son to be nailed on a cross, having His blood poured out to cover our sin and cancel our debt. Nothing we can ever do, no amount of good works, no religion, can bring us into fellowship with God and save us from hell (which is what we all deserve because of our sin). Only being covered by the blood of Jesus can. All we have to do is ask.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” -Ephesians 2:4-5
Best. Love story. Ever.
So yes, this life is hard. This life is ugly. But God loves us so much that He promises to be with us through it. He gives us hope, strength, and perseverance. When times get tough, He wants us to cling to Him, to lean on Him, and find rest in Him. He doesn’t promise us a perfect life, but He does promise us His perfect love that never, ever fails. That love is all we need and is certainly more than we deserve.
The Israelites turned from God over and over again, then they simply cried out to Him when they realized they needed Him. God never gave up on them or said, “This is too much work, I’m done.” He will never say that to us, either. He loves us too much to relent. The only thing He requires is for us to cry out to Him, too, and He will rescue us.