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GET RID OF THE THORN IN YOUR SIDE

From The Heart

Publish date: 08/17/2003

After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, Who shall go up first for us against the Canaanites to fight against them? 2 And the Lord said, Judah shall go up; behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

3 And Judah [the tribe] said to [the tribe of] Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my allotted territory, so that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with you into your territory. So Simeon went with him. Judges 1:1-3 NIV

Judges 1:4-36 tells us what each tribe did with their enemies. Judah and Simeon drove out or killed all their enemies except for those inhabiting the difficult valley basin, because they had chariots of iron. The Lord was also with the house of Joseph, who went up against Bethel. However, the tribes of Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan, did not do as they were told. All these tribes of Israel lived alongside these heathen nations and used them for forced labor instead of driving them out or destroying them together with their altars to idols and demon gods. Therefore the Israelites picked up their evil customs and their bad habits.

The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be [thorns] in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you."  Judges 2:1-3 NIV

The Israelites were in covenant with Almighty God, a covenant He swore never to break. For them to make covenants with the ungodly was completely unacceptable. Because of their disobedience, these nations became thorns in their sides and their gods became a snare to them. If you won’t deal with the root of sin, disobedience and bad habits in your life, and get rid of them by the power of the Holy Spirit, they will harass you all the days of your life. And there is nothing God can do for you until you make the decision to completely obey God in your life.

Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.  Judges 2:8-15 NIV

Because Joshua’s generation did not completely obey God, they did not set a good example for their children. Because they lived amongst the enemy, their children were influenced by the culture and beliefs of their enemies. When that generation died, the new generation - who did not know the Lord or the great things that He had done for their fathers - began to serve the gods of the ungodly, the Baals and the Ashtoreths. Because of their rebellion, God sold them into the hands of their enemies and never again empowered them to defeat their enemies. Instead they were doomed to live in great distress.

The sad thing is that they had all the wonderful promises they needed from God. Because they would not listen to Him, because they would not believe Him or obey Him, He could do nothing to help them or bless them, but He had to leave them to their own devices. Even today there are many Christians who do not believe God’s Word or obey Him, and yet they see Him as either the source of their problems or at the least as a God Who does not see or hear or care, when all along, they are the problem and the source of their own troubles. God is no respecter of persons - He gives us all the opportunity to serve and obey Him and be blessed or to go our own way and be cursed. It’s your choice – if you are smart, you will make the choice to serve God all the days of your life.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NIV

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