Saturday, September 29, 2012

At the End of God's Rope

At the End of God’s Rope


Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more.” – Judges 10:13
Have you ever gotten to the “end of your rope”?  It’s an old southern idiom that comes from having a horse tied by a rope to a post.  The horse can graze around the post, but only as far as the rope will reach.  When the horse has eaten all around the post, and stretched as far as it will go to graze, then the horse is at the end of its rope.  There are no resources available to the horse when it gets to the end of the rope.  There’s nothing left for the horse.

I know I’ve gotten to the end of my rope several times over the years, and there was a time when I’m sure I got to the end of God’s rope as well.  There’s only so much He’s willing to take without sending punishment to us, or leaving us to our own resources.  The people of Israel reached the end of His rope in Judges 10.
Gideon has fought and won against their oppressors, the Midianites.  But immediately the Israelites went back to serving idols.  They worshipped the ephod that Gideon had made from the plundered gold of the Midianites.  And when Gideon died, sixty-nine of his seventy sons were killed by Abimelech, his son by his maidservant.  Abimelech set up temples to Baal and other gods, and the entire nation of Israel was once again seeped in idolatry. 

They forgot what God had done for them, and turned their backs on Him.  The one son that remained, Joash, shouted a curse upon Abimelech and the evil men of Sechem that joined him.  It’s a poetic curse regarding trees and briars found in Judges 9, but he sought justice for the death of his sixty-nine brothers.  God heard the curse and granted it by allowing them all, including Abimelech, to be killed. 
They still did not turn back to God.  But sixty-three years later, after God had turned them over again to the oppression of the Philistines, they finally cried out to God from the end of their ropes.  In Judges 10:10 they said “We have sinned against You, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals!”  But what they found was that God was at the end of His rope too.  God is both merciful and just.  But God had gotten tired of Israel’s repeated sin.

God answered them saying in verses 11-14:
Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites and from the people of Ammon and from the Philistines? Also the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maonites oppressed you; and you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hand. Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods. Therefore I will deliver you no more. “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in your time of distress.”

It must have put a knot of fear in their throats to hear Almighty God say “I will deliver you no more.”  He was at the end of His rope.  Time and time again He had come to their rescue just to see them squander His grace on sin once again. 
God reaches the end of His rope several times in the Bible.  In the days of Noah, God destroyed the entire earth, except for Noah, and his family.  The town of Nineveh received a warning from God delivered by Jonah that Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their wickedness.  But even in current day we see God get to the end of His rope.  Our own New Orleans has been destroyed twice during the week they host the gay festival known as Southern Decadence.  Haiti, a nation filled with Voodoo and idols, was destroyed by an earthquake at the hand of God in 2010. 

Oh, now I know some of you don’t want to believe that Katrina or Haiti were the result of God.  But if not God, then who?  Do you really believe that in the days of Jesus even the wind and the waves obeyed Him (Luke 8:25) but in our day they don’t?  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  We are the people who Simon Peter spoke of in 2 Peter 3:5-7 when he says, For this they WILLFULLY FORGET: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed PERISHED, BEING FLOODED WITH WATER. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are RESERVED FOR FIRE until the day of judgment and PERDITION OF UNGODLY MEN.

We live in a nation filled with sin.  We’ve allowed our unborn to be killed, we teach our children murder through role playing video games, we put the gangsters of the street on stages, and allow them to make millions selling records.  We idolize the sins of Hollywood, turn our backs on the gay and lesbian sins of our own towns, and simply turn the channel when we have it pushed on us by the very television we are paying to watch.  Rock stars, actors and actresses, government officials, leaders in our own communities go about worshipping other gods through Scientology, Astrology, Buddhism, Hinduism, and beliefs so numerous you can’t name them all.  And yet, they gain fame and fortune at our own hands.  We turn our backs as our own children turn to sex and drugs, and dismiss it as “sewing their wild oats” or “working on their testimony”.  Surely God will reach the end of His rope with America before we do!  Where are God’s people hiding?  Christians have become a silent force in this nation, much like the believers of Israel during its various seasons of idolatry.
But God is not without mercy even when at the end of His rope.  Even in the day of Judges 10 when He proclaimed “I will deliver you no more”, they found mercy in His heart when they repented.  They cried out to God and said “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You, only deliver us this day, we pray.” They turned from their idols and worshipped Him.  And then the most beautiful statement about God is found in Judges 10:16, when it says “His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel. His soul, His very soul, couldn’t be angry anymore!  He could not stand to see His children suffer.  Oh, the love of God is so deep!

We can still find the love of God today as deep as it was then.  Simon Peter goes on to say in 2 Peter 3:8-9, But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He is longsuffering, or we would live in a land that had already been overcome by the nations that are more powerful.  He is longsuffering on an individual basis, or many of us would have already met death.  And all He seeks in us when He is at the end of His rope is our repentance, a true turning of our hearts over to Him.    

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