By: Susan Bea Good
“And He (Jesus) told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9/ESV)
I wrote a short letter of resignation to my church last night. Too much faithlessness has pressed me out the door. There may not be another congregation any more faithful, but I believe I should try to find one.
For over twenty years I have taught the children in this church. Today was my last 4th grade Sunday School lesson. As I studied my Grace to You curriculum I was amazed at the Lord’s timing. I had a hard time delivering it without weeping. Here it is:
“Israel Disobeys God” (Judges 1-3)
Aim: Obey God and fear the devastating consequences of compromise.
Review: While Joshua lived the people were obedient to drive out the idolators in the land. After his death the tribes began to disobey. They failed to remove the pagan influences and instead learned to live with them and even become enriched by their presence.
Verse: “And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger.” (Judges 2:12/ESV)
Approach: How might the bad influence of others lead us into joining them in sin?
- Israel’s Faithlessness (Judges 1)- The tribes of Israel failed to obey God’s command. Manasseh, Ephriam, Zebulun, Asher, and Naphtali chose to do things their own way. (Proverbs 3:5-6) They decided that trusting in God was not their best option. Instead they applied their own creative alternatives and called that “obedience”…resulting in the provocation of the anger of God.
- God Rebukes and Warns Israel (Judges 2:1-5)- They do not repent. The Angel of the Lord (pre-incarnate Jesus) informs them of the impending punishment. “The same evil that you did not remove, but instead used for your own enrichment and even embraced, will now rule over you. The pagans you adored will become thorns in your sides, and their ways a snare to your children. You will weep with brokenness, but it’s too late!” (my paraphrase)
- Israel’s Apostasy (Judges 2:6-3:6)-
* Faithlessness was the heart-problem of Israel (2:6-10)
* Apostasy was the result of their faithlessness (2:11-13)
* Punishment would come from the hands of their enemies (2:14-15)
* God has pity and offers some deliverance (2:16-17)
* Israel refuses to repent (2:18-19)
* God’s punishment continues (Judges 2:21-3:6)
Summary: God’s people had a choice…it was a “binary” choice. They could faithfully follow His commands or unfaithfully vote another way. When we refuse to trust God we set ourselves (and our children) up for a lifetime of hardship. Only true repentance will turn God’s wrath back, and there is a point when His anger will not be stopped!
Application: Do you personally trust God to accomplish good with your circumstances? If not you may repent and turn back to Him.
Challenge: Ask for a renewal of faith so that you may regain fellowship with God and receive every blessing He has for you.
Before heading to church this morning I heard Pastor Charles Stanley deliver this message about faith: https://www.intouch.org/listen/featured/a-time-for-courage-part-1
As I left church today with a heavy heart I turned on my local Christian radio WCSG to hear these three songs, which took me all the way home. God is so good!
“Lift My Hands” by Chris Tomlin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c24En0r-lXg)
“Higher” By Unspoken (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H9SXqzs0oI)
“Eye of the Storm” Ray Stevenson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sx8wTnnfSc)
“This blogger’s hope is to be an encouragement to faithful Christ-followers as they recognize God’s Big Picture and purpose to participate in it. Adonai Eloheinu!”