Significant themes run as threads through the entirety of Scripture (God’s Sovereignty and holiness, mankind’s sin, redemption, grace, forgiveness, and numerous others). One important biblical theme is judgment. Judgment is necessary because of human sin. Had sin not entered the world, neither would judgment. And the reality is that we all deserve judgment because we are sinners who have rejected God’s right to rule over us. But have you ever considered God’s judgment as an act of grace?
God does not judge to be mean. God does not judge to destroy. God judges and chastises to reveal his holiness, our sinfulness, and drive us to repentance. In the book of Judges, the people of Israel were supposed to conquer and inherit the land of Canaan. Yet the people of Israel did not conquer all the land. Many nations and their Idolatry remained. Israel became tainted in their worship because they adopted the gods of the land. They broke the first two of the ten commandments by not worshiping Yahweh alone and worshiping idols instead.
So, in response to Israel’s idolatry and sin, God left the nations in the land. Scripture records that God left the nations in Canaan for two reasons. First, God left them to test Israel’s faithfulness (2:22-23). Second, God left them to teach the people of Israel how to war and engage in battle (3:1-2). God allowed the nations to stay in Canaan because his chosen people did not obey him in conquering the land. In other words, God let Israel face the consequences of her own sinful choices. Part of God’s judgment on Israel during the period of the Judges was to let her experience the difficulty of her own sinful choices. Yet, and this is striking, God sovereignly purposed two important reasons for allowing the idolatrous nations to stay in Canaan. God was actively working within and in spite of Israel’s sins. He offered gracious purposes in the midst of his judgments.
The cycle prevalent throughout the book of Judges also reveals God’s grace as a part of his judgement. Israel’s cycle was:
While God allowed Israel to sin and face judgment, he responded graciously when they cried out in repentance. He sent a judge to rescue them. God is no different today. In his sovereignty, he is not intimidated by our free will and our choices to sin. In his holiness, he will chastise and judge our sin. In his grace, he will hear us when we cry out in repentance. And he will and ultimately has provided us deliverance from our sin. In the person of his Son Jesus Christ, God both judged our sin and rescued us. Even his judgments are gracious. And that my fellow believers should inspire love and worship for our great and gracious God.