“Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods. So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs. Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years. When the children of Israel cried out to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them: Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the LORD delivered Cushan-Rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim. So the land had rest for forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died” (Judges 3:5-11).
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). This is always true for God’s children. Be good neighbors, help them out, surprise them with a pie! To those with whom you daily interact, be a source of many blessings. Make friends. Create a context in which they will, one day, ask you a reason for the hope that is in you.
As you are doing this, however, do not compromise the principles God has given you in His Word! Beware of acclimating so far into the culture that no one can tell that you follow the true God and cherish His Word. The temptation is for the culture to become more real to us than our walk with God.
At the beginning of Judges 3, we find God’s people becoming so comfortable with their worldly neighbors that their connection with God became invisible. They knew the Word of the Lord, but they did not live as if it were real to them—a common occurrence among God’s people over the centuries. Thus, there is an ongoing need for revivals. By revival we mean reminders, repentance, and renewal.
In his second epistle, Peter admonished those who lived as if they had forgotten they were cleansed from their sins; and he went on to say that he would not neglect to remind them always of those things (2 Peter 1:9,12). Christians often need revival, so that Christ and His Word become real in their lives again.
Revival was God’s purpose when He sent His people a trial in the person of Cushan-Rishathaim. They felt his oppression and realized how enslaved they had become to worldly concerns.
Repentance is sometimes slow in coming, but what a blessing it is when it comes! After eight years, their desire for the Lord’s presence and blessing became acute; and when they cried out to the Lord, “the Lord raised up a deliverer. . . .” The Spirit of the Lord enabled Othniel to lead Israel to repentance and restoration.
This revival lasted for forty years; but when Othniel died, the people again wandered. History reveals that revivals are temporary, often ending when a good leader dies and his influence fades.
God’s people need a leader whose influence does not diminish, over whom the grave has no power—and look! There He is!
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Revelation 1:18).
After three days He revived from the dead, and forever Jesus is the revival of all who trust in Him. God forbid that they amalgamate into the culture! Yes, rather, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Delwyn Maas is pastor of Gift of God Lutheran Church in Mapleton, North Dakota.