Troubled Hearts: Forgetfulness leads to a troubled heart (Judges 3:7-11)
Forgetfulness leads to a troubled heart (Judges 3:7-11)
The Evil of Forgetfulness (3:7) We are not yet three complete chapters into the book of Judges until we experience God’s covenant community falling into rebellion and iniquity. Tangentially, one reason you can trust that the Holy Scriptures are inspired by God and not man is that Bible never ignores or excuses Israel’s sin. Man would never let you know about his most profound failures. Israel did evil.
The Judeo-Christian worldview gives us a framework for calling evil, evil. Evil is anything against the nature, will, or way of a Sovereign God [in the Lord’s sight]. However, when your worldview does not begin with an absolute sovereign Creator, it will lead to a place where you can’t call evil by name.
Some have tried to explain evil apart from an absolute Good God:
Evil skeptics propose describing morally despicable actions, characters, and events using more pedestrian moral concepts such as badness and wrongdoing. The most celebrated evil-skeptic, nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, argued that the idea of evil should be abandoned because it is dangerous. It should come as no surprise that Nietzsche, describing the Enlightenment, retorted, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. “
Without Yahweh, you have no framework to label evil. Result: you will live a life that tries to diminish evil (or magnify others) with the hopes that your personal sin will be ignored.
In Christ, evil becomes dangerous, but without Jesus, evil sees God as hazardous. May we see the world as God sees.
So what is this great evil? The people forgot and worshipped. Forgetfulness is a radically benign way to describe evil and sin, don’t you think? Yet, the Bible is full of reminders never to forget God’s faithfulness.
Moses, speaking to the Exodus generation who witnessed the ten plagues, walked through the Red Sea, read the 10 Commands said: Deut 4:9 “Only be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves, so that you don’t forget the things your eyes have seen and so that they don’t slip from your mind as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”
King David, the psalmist, penned, “My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits.”
What if forgetting the promises of Christ is the greatest threat to your abundant life and spiritual vitality? Never forget!
The Consequence of Forgetfulness (3:8) As a result of covenant forgetfulness and evil, the people of God experienced the consequence of their sin. Amid their bold apostasy, the anger of Yahweh burned. Sin always has effects. Romans says that the wages of sin is death!
Not all consequences are equal:
There is a consequence of God’s wrath for those who remain outside His covenant. All die because of sin, but some will experience judgment unmitigated by grace outside his covenant. This judgment is retribution—punishment without grace- for those who reject His lovingkindness. The final permanent expression of Yahweh’s retributive justice is Hell. But, the gift of God is eternal life.
The consequences of sinful forgetfulness received by Israel were within a covenant relationship. This judgment is discipline—corrective rather than retributive—and always tempered by grace. God will let His children receive the consequences of their sin so that they may run back to His presence. God’s discipline in your life is always corrective.
The punishment for sin can be immediate or delayed, but it is sure. For those who sold out to the gods of Baal and Asherah, the Lord sold them to King Cushan-rishathaim. His name means dark and doubly wicked or evil times two. For eight years, God’s community was slaves to their sin. The punishment for sin can be immediate or delayed, but it is sure.
The Cry of Remembrance [Anti-forgetfulness] (3:9). After eight years, someone remembered Yahweh. And they began to cry out! Don’t get this confused with a shout of repentance. Fundamentally, this is a roar of anguish in a desperate situation and pain.
Even to this superficial plea, the Lord is moved to pity and immediately responds. If you have ever felt like God won’t hear your prayer because of your sin or situation, Judges teaches us to cry out! He will listen to and be moved to compassion. Before you even were aware of your sin, God made way for you to know him through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). A wrong call to Christ is better than no call to Him.
Even if you are living in the consequences of your sin, God can redeem you. You don’t have to stay as a slave to your sin. To see the heart of the Father is to be forever quick to repentance.
The Salvation of Remembrance (3:9-10) So is a word of redemption. Because of His mercy, the Lord raised a deliverer, a man named Othniel (God is my strength/protection), from the tribe of Judah (the tribe entrusted to go first). Othniel is an exemplary man of God. When all others intermarried with the Canaanites, Othniel married the daughter of Caleb, the mighty faithful spy.
Othniel is the first judge that the Lord raises to rescue His people. The judges (shophetim) were local charismatic leaders and military heroes more than supreme court legislators. However, although Othniel was the first and model judge, the Scriptures call him a deliver and not a judge.
Through one man, the covenant community would experience salvation and deliverance until Othniel dies.
Many years later, through one God-Man, an entire faith community would be saved. Salvation comes through remembering the sacrifice: 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Gathered worship is a way to remember. When we gather, we recite memories of the Lord’s tender mercies in our lives. It is not we who save ourselves; salvation comes from above, from God, who is our strength and protection.
The Peace of Remembrance (3:11) When the cry of help reaches the ears of the Father, he raises Othniel and brings peace to the land as long as Othniel lives. This peace not only rests upon the people but the entire land. There is no peace like the peace of Jesus!
The peace of Yahweh is a gift. Why did Israel receive peace? They cried – an unusual way to earn peace. Peace was the gracious gift of Yahweh, who raised Othniel, put his spirit upon him, and destroyed the king Cushan-rishathaim. You don’t earn Christ’s peace; you receive it.
The peace of Yahweh is the enjoyment of covenant faithfulness. Judges is a stark reminder that you can’t earn peace, but you can surely forfeit it. True peace is only enjoyed in covenant relationship to Yahweh through faith in His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Enjoy!
The peace of Yahweh is absolute and comprehensive. We often speak about the peace of the Lord as if it is some inner peace without tangential qualities like it’s some beauty pageant world-peace wish. Peace is not the absence of trouble but the presence of shalom—total well-being. It’s the complete peace of knowing that because of Jesus, whatever my lot, it is well, it is well with my soul. The peace of Christ in your life is real, comprehensive, and eternal.
However, the peace through Othniel was only temporary; it lasted forty years. This is the problem with earthly peace; it only lasts as long as the leader is alive.
In Judges, the community experiences salvation only as long as the judge is alive. After the judges would come the kings of Israel. After the kings would come the Messiah, Jesus Christ. God does not desire temporary salvation for your life. That is why He sent his only Son as the eternal deliver.
So What? Forgetfulness leads to troubled hearts
What if forgetting is one of our greatest sins? Gathering together is one of the Father’s antidotes for our spiritual forgetfulness
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Will you ask the Father to flood your soul with remembrance of His atoning sacrifice? Will you ask the Father once again never to let you forget or get over your salvation?
If you hope that the Lord will forget your iniquities one day, this day will never happen. You can’t outlive God’s memory.
But there can be a day where God will choose not to remember your sin. For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin (Jeremiah 31:34)
In Christ, you find forgiveness for your sins, evil, and forgetfulness. Will you cry out to Him today and receive abundant life by faith in the resurrection?
In Christ, you never have to experience God’s judgment outside of a covenant relationship. In Christ, you have a Father who chooses not to remember your sins again!
If spiritual forgetfulness is the root of a troubled heart, never forget!