Why does God allow us to struggle in life? Why does God allow the enemy to attack us? As we continue our study through the book of Judges, we move to chapter 3, where we find an answer in the first four verses. God allows these things as opportunities to test us, to teach us, to train us, and to build our trust. Here are a few things to remember when facing life’s greatest battles.
In verse 7, we read that the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Choices have consequences. Their compromise and sin brought eight painful years. Then, they did what some of you have done, are doing, or are ready to do; they cried out to God, saying we are tired of being conquered by this world. God, in His mercy, raised up a deliverer named Othniel, who would be faithful like Caleb. Verse 10 says, “The Spirit of the Lord came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge….”
The secret to breaking the cycle of sin and strongholds of the enemy is the Spirit of the Living God.
You self-destruct when you disobey God and disregard His word. The secret to breaking the cycle of sin and strongholds of the enemy is the Spirit of the Living God. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”
In verse 12, we see the cycle of sin again. “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord….” The consequence this time was being subject for 18 years to Eglon, King of Moab. Verse 15 says, “Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud….” How do you break the cycle of sin? You have to want help. You have to cry out to the Lord.
Ehud was left-handed. The Hebrew seems to indicate he could not use his right hand. God can use even our physical disabilities! Weakness is the stage on which God displays His strength! When we are weak He is Strong. Give God your left hand. Give God your weakness.
God is writing your story. God sees your pain. God knows your suffering is real. His salvation is real too. Our salvation does not come through our strength, but God’s. Weeping endures for the night, but joy is coming. While the Israelites were subject for 8 and 18 years, the Lord gave them peace for 40 and 80 years (v. 11, 30). God wants to give you long lasting victory over sin.
Verse 31 says, “After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.” This is all we know about Shamgar, but this is all we need to know. His name is not an Israelite name, and an oxgoad is a farming tool used to spur oxen. We do not know if he struck down the Philistines all in one battle, or over time. Mark Batterson writes in his book All In, “He could have said I don’t have the right weapon. I can’t do this by myself. These are not even my people. If we look for an excuse, we will always find one.”
Stop saying, “I can’t,” and start saying, “I can win the battle of today through Christ who strengthens me.” Stop focusing on what you can’t control. Stop saying, “What if I had not done that?” and “What if this happens?” There are two days you don’t have to worry about – yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. Live life one day at a time. Focus on what you can do today and God will give you success one step at a time, one battle at a time, one day at a time.
How can you break the cycle of sin? If you really want to change, and want help, you will find a way to win! By God’s Spirit and in God’s Strength, you will experience God’s Success!