Realizing and Revealing that “The LORD is with You!”
Judges 2, John 1:1014
† In His Name †
As you realize that the Lord is with you, may you realize what that means, that you can trust His promises, that you have received His gift of mercy, that you dwell in His loving presence… and may you life reveal that to all you encounter!
As we enter lent, as we like Isaiah mourn that we are people of unclean lips and lives, living among a world that is equally marred by sin; it is not difficult to realize our times are not so different than those described in the book of judges.
The stories this week, from the 12 year old giving birth in Mexico, to the story of the war veteran/former police officer who snapped and turned on those he once protected. As we hear all the hatred that has been spewed out at the church as a whole, to broken families; there is a sense of despair building, not unlike the times where Israel would finally mourn and weep. It’s enough for a man of God to want to retire…and find some nice peaceful place to spend his days.
It is the reason why our foreheads and hands are marked with ashes this day, it causes us to face our sin, even as they did, and hopefully, like they did in the time of the judges, we will learn to cry out to God, finding our hope.
As we travel through Lent this year – our journey will be alongside Israel as they see over and over God’s faithfulness, even as God is not exactly happy with their sin. As we see Him leave them to the consequences for a time, but then the moment they remember His presence, the moment they call out for help – He raises up His judge, the one who leads and shepherds Israel, returning them to their place as the children of God.
It’s a journey that we have an advantage they didn’t have.
An incredible advantage.
A Complex Problem a Simple Solution
Hear again the description of the situation
18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge over Israel, he was with that judge and rescued the people from their enemies throughout the judge’s lifetime. For the LORD took pity on his people, who were burdened by oppression and suffering. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to their corrupt ways, behaving worse than those who had lived before them. They went after other gods, serving and worshiping them. And they refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
Let’s think about this – Israel was slow, so unable to stop sinning on their own, that the only when they had a strong judge, someone who could lead them to God, would they live as God’s people would. They were so weak, that left on their own, they would simply revert to the sinful nature they had, before they knew of God’s love, of God’s desire to be present among them.
When the leader died, they fell apart.
I was once told that the larger and more complex the problem is, the simpler the solution would be.
It’s pretty simple this time – they need a judge who will not die. One who would live with them – reminding them of God’s glory, of realizing His love.
Pretty simply – get a judge who will not die – the people who aren’t strong enough – will still be led to God.
Pretty simple – find Someone who will live in the midst of the people of God… and be there for them….
And that is where we have an advantage – if we, only took the time to realize it.
That’s what this time is… the time to realize that the judge is with us… or as more commonly said around here.
“The LORD is with you!”
Our gospel said it this way:
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Even as we struggle in this world, even as we spend these 40 days (except Sunday) looking at our need for Good Friday, our need for Easter, our need for Pentecost we know it is coming. Nothing can stop God’s work in rescuing His people, in delivering them from the dark times.
For He has raised up His judge, and nailed Him to the cross.
Because we needed it.
Because our world needs it. They need to know this very thing we realize, the thing that the judges knew – the thing that enabled them to minister to the people of God.
They need to have it revealed to them as well. This very special truth, that it is realized, when it is revealed, brings God’s mercy and peace and love to the forefront of our lives.
Hear it again….
The Lord is with you!