One by one

Judges 3:1-4 “Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan . . . They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.”

One of the things that is true about saving faith is that it is not for bandwagon jumpers. We don’t believe because everyone else around us believes. No, true faith is a personal work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of each individual.  Faith is not a matter of going along with the crowd, for if that describes us, we will likely be those who follow the crowd wherever the crowd leads.  We are not to follow the sheep – rather, we are to follow the Shepherd, regardless of what the other sheep do.  And the Shepherd has ways of revealing our hearts to us, by working personally in each and every life. You see, God doesn’t look on the outward appearance like men do, for “the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).” 

And so, we have the example from the book of Judges, above, which speaks of one of the ways God tested Israel to reveal the truth about what was in their hearts.  Judges follows right after the book of Joshua, a book about the conquests of Israel in the Promised Land. Joshua is a book about warfare, a type of the warfare of each believer as he or she wrestles “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  It is these dark spiritual forces that influence the world in which we live in the ways of ungodliness.  As we live in this world in which most are on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14), we face many tests of our faith.  Will we, as Israel so often did throughout the period of the Judges, follow the ways of the enemies of God, or will we stand apart and “obey the commandments of the Lord” which He has given us in His Word, regardless of the ways of the majority?

Sadly, Israel failed over and over again. The generation that followed immediately after the generation that demonstrated obedience and great victory in Joshua’s time quickly turned away from God to follow the sinful ways of the Canaanites.  Similarly, in Noah’s day, only eight people in all the world had the faith and obedience that led to life while the rest of the world, every one of them, perished.

So, what about our day?  Do we face such tests?  Well, as Jesus told us “as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:37-39). You see, when the Lord returns, most people, like those in the days of Noah, will not have faith. They will live as if God doesn’t exist and as if Jesus will never return.  But for the few who have faith, it won’t matter what the majority do. They will have stood the test of the bandwagon jumpers by walking in the narrow way. 

May God help us who call ourselves believers to stand against the ways of this world, to walk in the way of God’s Word, regardless of what the majority does.  And may He continually help us to know our own hearts, measured not against the ways, trends, and mindset of this world, but against the Truth that God has given us in His Word.

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