Israel’s conquest of Canaan backfired after the first generation or two. The conquerors became the conquered. Israel’s adulterous idolatry led to weakness and being oppressed as a nation. We see it reflected in the judges who save them. Othniel and other judges had the Spirit of the Lord, but they were also a mixed bag of foolish vows (Jephthah), cowardice in going to battle (Barak and Gideon), cruel ambition (Abimelech), and selfish lust (Samson). God usually gives a people leaders who are like them.

This shows God’s grace to us. Even though we deserve conquest and annihilation as a nation and as individuals, God preserves us. It is not wrong to fight for preservation. But we too often strive for a greatness we’ve grown accustomed to, and act like we should be great again, no matter how much innocent blood we’ve shed.

This teaches us humility. God took Israel through a low time of being occupied, plundered and otherwise oppressed. But the key word is “through.” God will not abandon His people, but He may teach them humility when their ambition outstrips their obedience.

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