Today's devotion from Judges 3 & 4.
In Judges 3 and 4 we are introduced to an irritating cycle in the history of Israel. The people would do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, they would fall into the hands of their enemies, God would raise up a judge to save them, they would be freed for a time, they would slowly drift away, they would do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the cycle would continue.
Somewhere in pretty much each of these accounts, we see the words, "...the people of Israel cried out to the LORD." Just in these two chapters, we see this cycle repeated multiple times. As I read, I wondered to myself why the people were never cried out? Why didn't they get tired of this cycle? Why did they perpetually find themselves falling away from God?
Then, I remembered Judges 3:1, "These are the nations the Lord left in order to test all those in Israel who had experienced none of the wars in Canaan." These nations were kept in order to test the faithfulness of the Israelites and to teach them war, struggle, and strife. Like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden, God allowed a temptation to exist in their midst, but why?
Many people ask why God would allow these temptations and sources of trials to exist. If He loves us, why wouldn't He protect us from ourselves. Well, that's actually the very point to these situations. There is another situation like this that reveals the heart of God, and what it reveals is that God would rather have us reliant upon Him than our own ability to withstand temptation.
This is not about us stumbling as much as it is about teaching us to cling to God in dependence. Notice that Israel's downward spiral followed a time of neglecting their relationship with God. When we walk closely with Him, desperately dependent on His strength to compensate for our weakness, this is when we truly experience His glory.