Love and mercy can seem like foolish things can’t they? I have an 11 year old dog named Kasanova. Let me tell you some annoying things about Kas. You take him on a walk and its just embarrassing he barks at anything that moves. Worst of all though is that as he ages I have to do all sorts of stuff for him. Can’t get in the bed…we lift him…can’t get up the stairs we help. Money for special food because his regular food gives him ear infections. Why do I care for something that constantly causes a disruption to my daily life…because he’s my dog that’s love.
If you’re a Michigan sports fan every Sunday after church you go home and put on that lions jersey…why? When all they do is cause stress and agony with defeat after defeat? Because that’s your team. You love them and sometimes you admit that your love for them is foolish.
Foolishness is really a word that we could use to describe how kindly our God treats us – and yet God’s mercy is always there.
As we look through the book of judges I want you to imagine Israel as a bit of a teenager. God’s always been faithful to them but now in the book of judges their rebellious teenage side is really starting to show. God gives them what they need they rebel they say sorry God saves them – and the cycle starts over again.
In Judges 10 the rebellion of Israel has reached a fevered pitch. They aren’t even worshipping the Lord at all anymore.
You notice that God mentions seven different God’s of these different nations – not an accident seven the number of completeness in the Bible. The Israelites had completely abandoned their God and God disciplines them.
They are taken over by the Philistines for 18 years. And the conversation between God and his people really does sound like a parent with his children. The Israelites cry out God we didn’t mean to do it – God I’m sorry. They aren’t really sorry they’re just sorry they got in trouble so God replies well why don’t you go cry out to those false Gods you worshipped. Go talk to them and see if they can help you oh wait they wont.
But then the apology becomes real. They change. They throw out their false God’s they purge their hearts of their idolatry and they start to serve the Lord.
If you have ever had a child you know what it is like to watch them suffer. They’re sick and coughing all night – What do you want to do? You want to step in you want to help. You hate seeing them in misery!
God hears the cries of Israel and the literal translation says that he cut his soul short. He couldn’t stand to see his children hurt so he steps in and saves them. Would they always stay faithful? No. Did God know that about them? Absolutely. And that’s why his mercy is such foolishness to the world – why would God love people that continue to go down this cycle of sin and return. Because mercy and love is who he is as a perfect father. He could bare the suffering of his kids no longer.
That cycle is the pivot point for everything we do. Our relationship with God at times so strong then suddenly we drift and we fall off. We pivot between turning our back on him and then seeing him as the loving father he is.
Friends that cycle is something that needs to be confessed and changed. You can’t continue to play games with your God.
God I love you but I really love these idols. I know for you its not a golden calf but it is a golden credit card – its not baals and ashtoreths but it is success and greed. It is time used for our purposes and not his.
You know if you ask a child after they have been grounded what they felt like while they were stuck in their room – if they are honest they’ll say yeah that wasn’t any fun being a slave stuck in my room. Israel was stuck in slavery to their false Gods. How does your slavery feel? Borrower is slave to the lender? You like the debt that your idols cause? Do you like that your children don’t listen to you…because you let them have every idol in the world with no restraint on what they could buy. Do you like that your relationships are ruined because you worshipped your lust?
If those questions are shocking friends its because Im trying to recreate the feeling Israel had when God said don’t ask me for help – go back and ask your idols for help. It hurts – we messed up and we know it.
So turn away from that and as you do see this.
God did not want to leave you in that misery. God does not want you to hurt – he doesn’t want you to be slave to anything – he doesn’t want you stuck in sin. And so he provides Jesus.
He provides the perfect Son of God who went through terrible misery on the cross that God did not want you to have. Because of him you get to look forward to days in heaven where there is no more crying weeping or pain. God’s mercy – his seemingly foolish love for people who mess up is the key that unlocks your eternity. God saw you dying in sin – he saw you busted in broken and sent his son to bind up the broken hearted to recover sight for the blind to give you the perfect love that he took away from his only son.
And you know those things. But as a sinful human being you still go through the cycle. Even after you hear his word today you’re still going to sin – still going to be tempted.
So lets take one last look at this beautiful impactful phrase. “God could bear Israel’s misery no longer”.
Friends since that verse is true – do you see what God wants you to have. If he can’t bear your misery than certainly he wants the opposite for your life.
Yes that means that he gave you an eternity free of misery in heaven but that beautiful eternity splashes over into this existence.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that all your pain and struggling is going to go away. But I am saying that because you have a God who took your misery away you certainly can change how you look at those things.
Now life’s miseries are temporary – now they are background noise. Now they are things that draw you closer to him. Now when you are in pain grief sadness and sin its an opportunity to look to God not an opportunity to break and complain.
Friends think about this – the almighty creator of the universe the God who died for you who suffered for you does not want you to be in misery. So don’t let misery in this life crowd out his love. Don’t let the pains of sin in this life keep you from seeing his hand.
The next time you feel misery, pain, sadness, or guilt remember those words – God does not want you to be there. And because of his seemingly foolish love and mercy for you…misery is objectively where you aren’t. AMEN