Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel… All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!” (19:1, 30).
I searched and searched, but I couldn’t see Him. Where was He in the midst of this horrific, sickening display of the depths to which His people had fallen?
Although He is the Self-Existent One, the people rejected Him as King, refused to heed His Word and His Rule, and relentlessly and rebelliously pursued what was right in their own eyes. In every thought and decision they had so ignored Him; so as in a very real sense, had asked Him to leave them to themselves.
Consider Him Removed
- When we forsake Him to serve our own gods… He is Removed.
- The Lord said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? 12 Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. 13 Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. 14 Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress,” (Judges 10:11).
- When in our stubborn ways we join ourselves to our own gods… He is Removed.
- Since Israel is stubborn
Like a stubborn heifer,
Can the Lord now pasture them
Like a lamb in a large field?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
Let him alone, (Hosea 4:16-17).
- Since Israel is stubborn
- When a society chooses to suppress His truth and immerse itself in the self-gratifying consumption of unrighteous desires… He is Removed.
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen, (Romans 1:18, 24-25).
The following is an excerpt from Ben Stein’s commentary, “I hope we can find God before it’s too late” recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary. (You can read Mr. Stein’s entire commentary through the link below.)
“Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ [regarding Hurricane Katrina]… Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response.. [sic] She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’”
He is Removed, because in a very real sense we have been telling Him to get out; and so He gives us over to our incessant appeals.
And when He is Removed, we are at the mercy of our own devices; and in another very real sense, within that kind of society, evil has no boundaries.
Does this sound familiar? Do we see any correlation to our modern history with this graphically explicit narrative recorded in Judges 19? We ask His blessing and yet we have asked Him to Remove Himself from His rightful place.
How do we respond to Him Removed?
Let us heed the admonition found in the close of today’s chapter:
Consider it, take counsel and speak up! (19:30).
I am neither a theologian nor a preacher, but today as I searched for Him in this chapter of Judges, I came away with the sinking feeling He was Removed; and I fear He may be Removed from this chapter of the United States as well.
Daniel, the prophet, lived in a time when the consequences of Him Removed brought tremendous discipline through exile and captivity by a pagan nation. In truth, should we expect any less?
Daniel responded in the only possible way; he responded in repentance. God is faithful to His children, as He promised He would leave a remnant. A remnant to speak truth and intercede for the nation.
Let us learn from Daniel, part of God’s remnant, a man of God and prayer. As we study his prayer in Daniel 9, let us pray, as Daniel did; let us acknowledge our sins and invite Him, beg Him in His mercy and grace, to return to His rightful place.
Let us “consider it, take counsel and speak up” in confession and repentance:
So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, 5 we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. 6 Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land.
7 “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You.8 Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10 nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11 Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12 Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.
15 “And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked.16 O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. 17 So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. 18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. 19 O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name,” (Daniel 9:3-19).
Repentance, in a very real sense, is asking Him Removed to Return to His Rightful Place.
Oh Lord, please take Your Rightful Place in our lives, our families, our churches, our communities, our country; not because we deserve it, but that You alone would be glorified.
Let us “consider it, take counsel and speak up” in truth:
These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates, (Zechariah 8:16).
speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, (Ephesians 4:15).
Forgive us Lord, for allowing truth to be compromised. Strengthen us we pray, to speak and live Your truth. We ask for Your forgiveness; please grant Your mercy upon our nation.
O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name, (Daniel 9:19).