As Israel continues to struggle with denying God and choosing sin instead of obedience, God is forced to bring punishment to them, as per the terms of the covenant He made with them. Read Judges 10:10-14 again and hear the Lord’s response to them:
Judges 10:10-14 And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.” And the Lord said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites, from the Ammonites and from the Philistines? The Sidonians also, and the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to me, and I saved you out of their hand. Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will save you no more. Go and cry out to the gods whom you have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress.”
Wow. What a sobering thing to hear God say. While God is completely justified to hold a sinful and rebellious people accountable for their treason and disobedience, we all too often read God’s judgment as being too hard. Why is it that we want to make God soft when it comes to his judgment of sin and lawlessness? I think it is our flesh and its proneness to make little of God’s holiness and righteous justice and to make too little of our guilt and deserved wrath.
To clarify, God is completely within the terms of the covenant He made with Israel. Let’s take a moment to review the Old Covenant God made with physical Israel.
The word covenant can commonly be used in social, marriage, and theological contexts.
A divine covenant is initiated by God. In this, we need to see that God is the sovereign One. God has decreed what covenants He would initiate and enter into. This happens by His eternal will. When God enters a covenant, it was not a good idea of someone else. Rather, it was His decree to do so, and the terms are set by Him. So for the covenants that God has made with man, it was God who initiated them, for wise and excellent purposes, and He sets the terms.
A divine covenant may include obligations, rewards, and/or punishments from God.
Some covenants require specific obligations be met by another party in order for the covenant rewards to be experienced. Some covenants include rewards for one party or another based solely on grace to them. And some covenants include various punishments for the breaking the terms of the covenant.
That is what we see here. God tells Israel they will be held accountable for not keeping their part of the covenant.
The sobering part of this is that it can’t help but feel like our lives at times. Even as Christians, we still fight the temptation to sin and often give into the sin for which our flesh longs. The good news is that we have a better covenant in Christ--a new divine covenant between God and His elect, called the church. This New Covenant has replaced the terms of the Old Covenant that God had made with Israel. While many Jews who were under the Old Covenant have been given saving faith in Jesus and thereby entered into the New Covenant in Christ, many Jews have not. This is a sad reality when we see Jews reject the Messiah and therefore stand condemned. This is an important clarity that many modern-day Christians get wrong. Jesus was clear saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
We must rightly understand that God has not provided another way for people to be saved outside of Christ. This includes the Jews. Any Jew who denies Christ as Lord and Savior is not saved according to Christ and the fullness of God’s word. We must understand that the Old Covenant pointed the true believers of God to the New Covenant and ultimately to the Christ. Any of God’s people who were under the Old Covenant who would be ultimately saved from their sin to reign with God forever put their faith in the future-coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father unless through Christ.
Now, this all leads to good news for those of us who truly have placed our faith and lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Not only are we saved by His blood from our sin, but we are secure in this salvation and cannot be separated from God once saved. Paul says it most famously in Romans 8:37-40: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The Scriptures tell us again and again that the blood of Jesus is enough to cover all our sin. This means that nothing we can do can separate us from God’s saving us in Christ. The Scriptures are clear that those whom the Father has chosen, He will have; and all those He has saved, He will not lose.
Jesus speaks again of our security in His protection and power. For example, we see this in John 10:
John 10:27-29. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
Our security is in God's infallible commitment to fulfill the conditions of our eternal standing with Him.
By grace, He caused us to be born again by creating our faith; and, by grace, He protects us on the way to heaven by preserving our faith.
Jesus has and will guard His chosen and redeemed ones to the end.
This is the good news I want us all to understand in light of reading Judges 10 this week. Yes, the conditions of the Old Covenant were that if the people did not obey, God would punish them.
But the conditions of the New Covenant are that all that God truly saves through the perfect blood of Jesus are eternally secure in the power and promise of God and cannot be snatched, lost, or removed from His perfect choice and atonement in Christ on their behalf.
Surely, you are thinking about those who seemed to be saved and then walked away from God. What about them? Well quickly, the Scriptures are clear time and time again that there are many who will look to be of Christ and even give much of their lives for the name of Christ but so prove to not be of Christ, in that they do not endure but walk away; thereby, they prove they were never truly saved.
A few quick examples:
1. Judas who looked like he was among the brethren but was not. In proving not to be truly for God and saved by God, he did not persevere to the end.
John 6:70-71 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
Jesus ordained from eternity past that 11 would be saved and endure, and one would be reject and betray Him.
Judas proved to be a false disciple—really, the most famous false disciple.
John 17:12 “… I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”
Jesus is speaking here of Judas, whom God foreordained to walk with Christ but to never be of Christ; he would prove to be an enemy of Christ.
2. John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
This describes the many disciples who, for a while followed Jesus, but eventually walked away. They proved not to truly have given their lives to Jesus; they were only interested in what He offered them, and in the end, they proved their god was their belly or something else in creation that they longed for more.
Understand that this is not special or unusual; it happens all the time. People come and go from the church all the time. They try religion, they try Christianity, and in the end prove to not believe. They prove they are false followers of Jesus. They don’t endure. You must see that this is normal. It is sad but true. In the end, they only had superficial faith.
Understand this: proximity to the gospel doesn’t mean you are saved by the gospel.
It is true and lasting fruit that proves true salvation. Will the saved sin and fall? Yes, but they will repent and return. They will grow and mature. These are the signs of the truly saved.
I pray that you are full of joy today if you have truly given your life to Jesus as Lord, because this means you are secure in Christ in the terms of the New Covenant that He has secured for you in His blood. The eternal commitment and power of God will ensure you remain His forever.
This is the beautiful doctrine known as Perseverance of the Saints.
God will not change His mind and reject them later. We did nothing to gain His love or acceptance. We can do nothing to lose it. We are forever His--forever secure in His power!
When the storms rage in your life, do you stand in this assurance?
Jesus said in John 6:39, “… I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
We cannot be lost. Every one of His sheep is precious in His sight.
Not only are we precious, but we will stand with Him in victory. He will raise us up on the last day.
John 6:40 “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Eternal life… Not eternal death and destruction.
This is truly good news. Now go and walk in these assurances and spread this gospel to all whom God puts in your path. And if you are guilty of sin, repent and honor God with your life, and know that He has you forever!