Midianites, caves, locusts, and you

SCHISTOCERCA GREGARIA

Occasionally I read a section of scripture that jumps off the page at me. I was recently reading Judges 6 and I can’t get it out of my mind. Let’s take a look at the first six verses.

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.

I’ve always been confused by verse 1 (and others like it in the Old Testament). What does it mean that the Lord “gave them into the hands of the Midianites?” Frankly, I was worried that it meant that God abandoned them. This scared me because I know that I also do “evil in the eyes of the Lord.” Here’s what I now believe, though. I think it means that God simply gave them over to the consequences of their sin.

It’s a simple equation. I sin = I accept the consequences. Is this fair?

Let’s now take a look at verses 2-6. This represents a microcosm of the experience awaiting us if we yield to sin. Here’s what happened to the Israelites.

  1. They chose sin (did evil).
  2. God gave them over to the results of that sin (the Midianites).
  3. The sin (Midian) was so strong that they had to hide in the dark where they did not belong (caves).
  4. When they attempted to pursue their hopes and dreams (plant their crops) from this dark place, sin (Midianites and others) ruined it all (did not spare a living thing).
  5. The sin multiplied and became absolutely pervasive in their lives (like swarms of locusts).
  6. The sin became so bad that they finally turned back to the Lord (cried out for help).

Why does God give us over to our sin? Is he too harsh, unloving, or unfair? Nope. We are told in this tiny section of scripture, just six verses. God exposes us to the consequences of our sin because, eventually, it turns us back toward him. He is truly a loving father. Thank you God for your ways. I don’t deserve you.

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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