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May 6, Day #127 – Tears in a Bottle

Here in Judges 2, we already see the awful cycle of sin now beginning repeatedly to grip the Israelites. Under “Joshua and the elders,” the nation of Israel had been generally obedient and “served the LORD” (verse 7). In verses 8-15, we see a brief, mini history about the “generation who grew up and knew neither the LORD nor what He had done for Israel … they did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals” (verse 10-19). We wonder how that could be true, but it illustrates that “the human heart is desperately wicked” (cf., Jeremiah 17:9-10). For their wickedness, the LORD “handed them over to raiders … and was against them … so that they were in great distress” (verses 14-15). So now the cycle of disobedience, distress, disaster, and deliverance by a judge begins. In verses 20-23, we see that the LORD did this to punish Israel for its disobedience; to “test Israel to determine whether they will keep the way of the LORD;” and to “teach warfare to the descendants who had no previous battle experiences” (verses 2:20-3:2). However, the lesson for us here is clear – we can avoid a lot of heartache and trouble if we will only obey the Lord. The people of Israel brought all this trouble on themselves through their disobedience, corruption, and idolatry. For their failure to drive out the Canaanites, God said that the Canaanites would become “thorns in their sides and their gods a snare” (verse 3). In chapter 3, we see the first three cycles of judgment with Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar. The first two cycles are preceded by the statements, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (verses 7 and 12). We presume that conditions were no better under Shamgar, about whom little is written. Israel engaged in compromise, intermarriage with idolators, and serving idols. The story of Ehud, “a left-handed man” (verse 15), is an interesting account about killing Eglon, the king of Moab. The book points out some of the unique, personal issues that relate to each of the different judges – here, Ehud’s left-handedness. Finally, we see that after the LORD’s response to the people’s cries and each judge’s deliverance, peace is restored for a period of time.

In Psalm 56:3, David addresses the universal problem of fear. I find myself in good company with David, for I am often afraid. Like David, we all need to trust God in times of fear (and at all times). I thank God for His provision of faith that helps to mitigate my fears. In verse 8, David reminds himself that God records and preserves all “his tears on His scroll” – sometimes translated, “in a bottle.” After my wife died, a very lovely person whom I didn’t know gave me a little gift - a memorial bottle for my tears. It is a daily reminder that, one day, God will open His bottle of all our tears, and He will wipe them away (cf., Revelation 21:4). I’m so grateful that God is no Stranger to my fears or my tears - He knows all our sorrows. I’m also thankful that He has “delivered me” (verse 13). God cares about our tears, and He is aware of them. Because He knows us “inside and out,” as the Samaritan woman said earlier, He also knows why the tears come, and He draws us closer because of them. God’s gentle love for us is a complete mystery to me.

In John 4:27-42, we see the evangelistic results of the Samaritan woman’s simple testimony to her neighbors - the whole town of so-called “low class people” (i.e., in the minds of most Jews of that day) turns in faith to Christ while the nation of Israel was rejecting Him. Thank God that He accepts all who respond in faith – including us. How hopeless we would be if He hadn’t made provision for us to “come and see!” I also find John 4:40 such a wonderful verse … not only did Jesus free the Samaritan woman from her life of sin, but also upon the town's request, He remained there for two more days to witness to and encourage this despised people group – the Samaritans. Jesus reveals how all people are important to Him; He sees us for “what we are,” and He still loves us.


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